Earwaves Rides Again

Once upon a time, I wrote a rock & roll music column for the Fond du Lac Reporter and the West Bend Daily News, a couple of papers in Wisconsin. It was a nice little weekly piece of descriptive opinion about new releases and the musicians I assumed I would never meet. Every once in awhile, though, I did get to talk with someone who had created the music I was reviewing.

Click Interviews, above, to read my discussions with B.B. King, John Hiatt, Jan Hammer and others.

Also in the tabs are new takes on some beloved (and not so beloved) songs in our musical memory banks.


Earwaves started out under suspicious circumstances. I was not a writer, but a news photographer for the paper. Bored between assignments to immortalize government meetings, charity check presentations ("grip and grins"), and club officers ("Line 'em up and shoot 'em"), I remembered a prank in Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book. 

Hoffman claimed a person could get free records by pretending to be an underground newspaper columnist. Just have some fake letterhead stationery printed up and start mailing LP requests to the record companies. Hmm. I had access to the real stationery of a real newspaper, so . . . 

One day, my boss, the managing editor, told me he was getting complaints from the loading dock about "all these square cartons piling up," addressed to me. I mumbled something about exploring the possibility of starting a music column for our younger readers. "Well, you'd better get writing then, or ship them all back -- yourself." Coming up with music reviews seemed easier, and cheaper.

In March of 1979, the first Earwaves column appeared in the Fond du Lac Reporter. With rare breaks, it was published weekly for the next 14 years. 

Questions or comments? Click away.

Composing room mock-up for inaugural March 1979 column. Big headphones, big hair.

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