There’s no reason to listen to commercial radio in a town like Atlanta, which has plenty of noncommercial options down at the left end of the dial. Not just the college stations, but public radio and community radio, too.
My ideal Saturday starts, if it’s an early morning, with 89.3 WRFG’s oldies show. Then on to WABE for some laid back weekend NPR, then “Car”Talk” (which Tom absolutely loves) and the oddly hilarious “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” After that, I have to punch the button in a hurry so no one has to listen to opera, and head for WRAS Album 88.5. “Music for the Prepubescent” seems to have a new, later time so I don’t have to choose between WABE’s lineup and wacky nostalgic kid tunes. At noon today I heard a medly of TV themes that included George of the Jungle, Transformers, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, the A Team and Huckleberry Hound. Also on Saturday morning is Martinis Con Queso, enough cheesy lounge music to last the week. In the afternoon, you can catch the Quintessential College Show and rockabilly on WRAS.
But without a doubt, the best radio of the week starts Saturday at 9 pm on WABE, when H. Johnson boogies into “Glory Glory/Battle Hymn” to start the evening of Jazz Classics, which doesn’t wrap until 2 a.m. I don’t know nuthin bout no jazz (at least nothin H. didn’t teach me), but I can’t imagine there’s a better radio show anywhere on the planet.
It seems like this show has always been part of my life. I remember my parents listening on Saturday nights when I was in high school. H.’s commentary and interjections irritated the hell out of my dad, but it feels right to me. My mom’s worried that Jazz Classics will be lost to posterity and wants me to start taping it. I suppose we should, but I’m relying on WABE to have a huge library of shows so they can just play them every Saturday night into forever if and when H. retires.
H. and his tunes are, after all, timeless.
WABE 90.1 (Atlanta public radio)
WRAS 88.5 (Georgia State University)
WRFG 89.3 (community radio)