Thursday, March 29, 2007

Drinking from the teet of LA's airwaves...

I've sang the praises of Los Angeles radio in the past and will do so again. Yes, we all know that Jonesy is great, KXLU is a goldmine, KCLU is the ultimate "oldies" station (but please, "more music and Les Perry"), the talk on KPCC and KPFK is often genuinely progressive (or embarrassingly "Liberal"), and that the pirate station,104.7, when it's on, is really on. And yes, we're all tired of Nick Hardcourt's California anesthesia on Morning Becomes Eclectic (and schilling for Range Rover, oh Nick!) and we're completely over KCRW's ultra-contrived, too-cool yawnfest (with a few fine exceptions, Mr. Trinidad).

But what about classical music? There are a few good stations around the dial. I especially love the colossally abrupt switch on KXLU from dopey college kids to the Early Evening Concert at 6. Such a wonderful disconnect! But the real superstar of classical radio in LA has to be Jim Svejda on KUSC (91.5). You'd have to start with his voice which has been described as "stick up the ass" by some, but not by me. It's an extremely musical voice, as unpredictable and varied as the sounds of an orchestra. It contains a spectrum of wry notes, dramatic pauses, and swallowed bitchslaps. When I first started hearing him, I said, "This man is drunk!"
And I'm not saying now that he isn't. Drunk on his work perhaps. But whatever he's on, his commentary is bold, informative, and often hilarious. His interviews are even better. I know very little about the world of classical music, but feel compelled to learn more when Wild Jimmy S. is on the radio. Sure, Svejda seems to have the requisite pretentions and haughtiness that classical aficionados demand, but it's his rebelliousness and humor that get my vote.

By the way, you'll probably want Mr. Svejda to look something like Bill Nighy in a crimson smoking jacket. If that's your mental image, then don't go Googling him.


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