This time around, our Volunteer Spotlight shines on Sarah Tezak, host of “Scratchy Vinyl.” You can catch Sarah on the air every Saturday from 10-noon.
The Blogapus: Why did you join WDBX?
Sarah Tezak: I first became a member of WDBX about 8 years ago. I found the station while scouring the bottom of the dial, searching for the jazz and non-commercial news I had grown accustomed to in the Chicago area. Over time I became introduced to all kinds of new music, and found myself looking forward especially to Monday evening house cleaning with “Grandma’s Jazz” and Wednesday afternoon getting “Into the Groove” as I finished up at work. I appreciated the joy of music DJs shared with listeners, and how unpredictable and unpretentious any day may be. I was proud the first time I called in a pledge!
Like many who migrate to Carbondale, I have ventured away and returned (a couple of times…). Over the years I listened to WDBX online from here or there, a nice way to feel home away from home. I was pleased to return to town to hear some of my old favorites (and new!) on WDBX. This time around, finding myself to have incidentally put together a wonderfully desultory collection of records over the years, and very much wanting to share them, I decided it was time for me to put foolish fears of electronics aside! So much wonderful music exists, and in a world increasingly monopolized by digital and fast paced button pushing, I enjoy the tactile nature of the LP. I love the look and feel of a worn jacket cover, and relish cover art before computers got involved. I figured that since I have serendipitously acquired such a variety of music, the only option was to have a radio show on which to share it (and accepting that I had wanted a show of my own since I met my first WDBX DJ). That, and really, who wouldn’t want an opportunity to connect to so many people all at once?
TB: How do you know when you’ve had a great episode of “Scratchy Vinyl?”
ST: A great episode… Certainly one where all the buttons and slides behave appropriately! And all the turntables are working properly! Beyond the technical side, if I am dancing and singing between slinging vinyl, its a good day! One of the beautiful things about having a radio show at WDBX is the ability to explore familiar and unfamiliar music. Since many of my albums were acquired based on aesthetics or vague recognition, I will often come across an unknown gem in an unsuspecting package.
Another sign of a great show is when a set makes itself on the fly, a random connection made as a song is playing that takes the show into a direction not intended (of course with the last minute change magically cued up just in time!) Of course, when I get phone calls from someone loving the music, especially when they have some personal connection to share, is a good way to tell I am doing my job!
TB: You find yourself inside an unfamiliar used-record store in Bizarro City. The shelves are stocked with albums that never existed in our universe, and they’re having a sale– Jimi Hendrix’s covers of 80s pop classics, Suge Knight & The Pips, the CSNY/ELP supergroup boxset, etc… What five albums are coming home with you?
ST: Bill and Ted’s Highlights Through Time. Recordings and discussions gathered during a time jaunt with Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo de Vinci, Angela Landsbury, and Nostradamus (Comes complete with a Bablefish to ease language disparities), …. Highlights: Plato and Socrates on an afternoon stroll, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, ambient sounds in the geographic location we now know as Utah during the Jurassic period, Schubert working on a composition, sounds sights and interviews with the builders of the pyramids of the world, A guided tour through the library at Alexandria, A round table discussion with Buddha, Confucius, Christ, Mohammad, Lao Tsu, Thomas Aquinas and Alan Watts.
Tom Waits, Doris Day, Louis Armstrong and Nina Simone performing the Greatest Hits of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. The Best Busking of the Centuries; compiled by Alan Lomax, from roadside to market to subway tunnel, and everything in between. The Universal Instrument orchestra; led by David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Stanley Jordan, and Bobby McFerrin. From kora to lute, bagpipes and flute, all the indigenous instruments of peoples of the universe, as well as some more modern additions such as theremin, and that clarinet with a keyboard. Of course, orchestral favorites will be included as well, with a cello chorus.
Spike Jones and his City Slickers do hits of the 1960’s through today (box set by decade, with separate bonus album of Beatles hits, including Honey Pie, Fool on the Hill, Octopus’s Garden, Two of Us, Rocky Raccoon, Help, and more…) Including The End by the Doors, Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror, Baby One More Time, Like a Prayer, Stayin’ Alive, Elderly Woman Behind A Counter In A Small Town, Everyday People, Feelin’ Groovy, Sympathy For The Devil, Landslide… and many many more. Obviously, I would also be buying the album with the most interesting artwork (I can’t resist moths), and likely would impulsively allow myself the album that struck me with the most interesting name (song or album or artist, its always up to the moment and inspiration). This is the most fun I have had in a long time with a random hypothetical. Honestly, there are so many ideas roaming in my head that would make for interesting combinations and concepts. I recommend everyone try this game.
TB: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever played on your show?
ST: It seems ultimately, this is a pretty subjective question! I have this amazing album of a man called Wyman telling stories about growing up in Makanda (the album itself is from the 60’s or 70’s, and he is not a young man then!). I have a penchant for silly things, Maxie the Taxi by Eddie Cantor is a favorite (most of his recordings are wonderful). Also, I enjoy the compilation albums of old radio shows that I have found, My Plumber Doesn’t Make House Calls is a favorite.
I have found a few non-standard choral albums, the most interesting being the Bulgarian Woman’s Chorus (a choir of voices is highly likely to give me goosebumps!) I regularly throw in some polka, kids music, and will break format to play current small musicians I have found on some street side. I hope that the music I play can be interesting to folks in general, whether an old favorite or something they haven’t experienced before. Most of my records have come from thrift shops, yard sales, and handed down collections… which makes it all pretty interesting to me!