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So when is *your* radio station going to perform Erik Satie’s Vexations?

I’m enjoying the very Hollow Earth Radioesque interview that Garrett Kelly, co-founder of Hollow Earth Radio in Seattle gave to The Stranger, Seattle’s arts/culture scene newspaper. Hollow Earth just got a Low Power FM construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission.

“We’ll be on the air in no time, though we can’t give you the exact timeline,” Kelly noted. “Definitely within the 18 months that have been granted by the FCC, and probably much sooner than that.”

The Stranger wants to know if there will be changes. “Yes,” Kelly says. “There will be some things that will have to change with what we are doing—our current DJs are used to broadcasting online (with few rules) and will now have to abide by FCC regulations. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do 19 hours of Erik Satie’s Vexations, or burp symphonies, or hosting live hip-hop cyphers to make clam chowder and invite strangers from off the street to jump on the mic.”

It should be noted that Hollow Earth actually did Vexations four years ago. This was no small accomplishment. As The New Yorker noted last year, the piece has only a half sheet of notation, but Satie recommended that it be played, yes way, eight hundred and forty times. That meant that it did not receive a debut until 1963. And guess who did the premiere? You got it: John Cage:

“No one knew what exactly would occur, which is part of what enticed Cage, who had a lust for unknown outcomes. The performance commenced at 6 P.M. that Monday and continued to the following day’s lunch hour. Cage played in twenty-minute shifts with a group of eleven pianists he dubbed “The Pocket Theatre Piano Relay Team.” They included the dancer Viola Farber; John Cale, soon to be a co-founder of the Velvet Underground; and the experimental composers David Tudor, Christian Wolff, and David Del Tredici. To complete the full eight hundred and forty repetitions of “Vexations” took eighteen hours and forty minutes. The New York Times sent its own relay team of critics to cover the event in its entirety, while the Guinness Book of World Records dispatched an official to certify this as “The Longest Piano Piece in History.” In the aftermath, some onlookers were bemused; others were agitated. Cage was elated. “I had changed and the world had changed,” he later said.”

There is a YouTube rendition of the epic. I cannot vouch for it. But here it is:

In other community radio news, Sonicbid has an interesting piece on getting your music on community radio stations, and it lists the top ten community radio stations in the United States as follows:

KCSB 91.9 FM Santa Barbara, CA
KMUD 91.1 FM Redway/Garberville, CA
KBOO 90.7FM Portland, OR
KBCS 91.3 FM Seattle, WA
WORT 89.9 FM Madison, WI
KKFI 90.1 FM Kansas City, MO
WRFU 104.5 FM Urbana-Champaign, IL (Hosts of this year’s Grassroots Radio Conference, an annual gathering of community radio stations)
WFMU 91.1 FM Jersey City, NJ
KGNU 88.5 FM Denver, CO
KAOS 89.3 FM Olympia, WA

I am not arguing with this list, but it would be interesting to know how it was compiled.


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