Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feast Your Ears

I remember "homegrown radio" being broadcast from the Triangle Towers right across the street from the Psyche Delly in what once was a tiny downtown Bethesda. WHFS, 102.3 on your FM dial, was the station you could count on to hear about the music you might never hear about. Often the staff at WHFS were the first to discover bands, both national and local, that hadn't hit the big time...yet. Deejays played what they wanted to play and corralled musicians passing through town for interviews and station IDs. Like Woodstock, people are still talking about that creative station some forty years later-as "modern" radio sinks into a morass of commercialism and homogenization. Knowledgeable deejays have been replaced by professional voices that spit out commercials in between the automated play lists.


Fortunately the counter culture is clawing its way back- not on the airwaves, but in cyberspace. Those of you who are really hip already know about streaming or down loading internet shows on your micro pods. So check this out: Cerphe, one of the original 'HFS frontiersmen and disc jockey extraordinaire has re-emerged with Cerphe's Progressive Show. He says:

"If you liked the original WHFS, I hope you'll dig this. It's rock music that moves outside the lines...everything from the geniuses who gave birth to the rock of the '60s and '70s to the evolving offspring of that music, including great stuff that came out last year or even last week. It's a musical stew shuffling past, present and future...feast your ears!"

Cerphe will have a new show every Friday, but through the miracle of Technology you can listen anytime and you can "see" the albums and songs that are being played so you don't have to run find a pencil and wait until the end of the set when you hear something you really like.
Now that's progress.


  1. 102.3? When I started listening to 'HFS, it was 99.1. But thanks for the heads up on Cerphe's new show!

  2. LC said...
    102.3 preceded 99.1.

    ....and was much better

  3. 102.3 WHFS - FM
    Weasel, Milo, Cerphe....I have fond memories
    of radio from the 70.s
    And there was WGTB-FM too, which was even
    more far out than HFS coz it was the college station.

  4. He used to come to the P Street Store for tofu sandwiches between 6 and 6:30 when they were half price. He would be wearing his clogs and be driving his Karmen Ghia. He got us tickets to the Stones at the Cap Center. He's a cool dude. I'll listen.

  5. In the fall of 1983, 99.1 began where 102.3 had left off that summer, with Jake Einstein in charge and most of the 102.3 team. Through the 1980s Einstein and Co. ran the New HFS just as they had run the old HFS, with one major difference. The 99.1 channel was much higher power -- 50kW -- but it was too far south and east and also on a low tower that limited its range. So they moved the transmitter west toward Bowie and installed the antenna on an much higher tower, so that their primary service contour covered the entire Baltimore and Washington Metropolitan areas.
    Ironically this proved to be the beginning of the end for WHFS, as it created a tremendously valuable piece of property. In 1983, Einstein and company bought 99.1 for $2.2 million. When Einstein sold the station in 1989 it fetched almost $9 million. This placed the new owners under considerable pressure to earn more from each radio hour than Einstein had needed to do.
    This began a long slow slide from the Feast Your Ears HFS of the 1980s to the playlist-driven thing it had become by early 2000s. The station was repeatedly sold into larger broadcasting companies, who had increasingly little understanding of the storied history of WHFS and what it meant to its listeners.
    Today the 99.1 channel has been commoditized to a headline-format all news station. And the better angels of WHFS live at WRNR (Bob Waugh, Rob Timm, and Paula Sangeleer), and at HFS on-line (Gina Crash, Neci, and Spam). WRNR being owned by an independent company, has enabled it to preserve a lot of the elements of the WHFS of the early 1990s. HFS on-line has been the most heavily playlisted, although it still has some of the musician-orientation of the 99.1 of old, and the pedigree of three marquee of its marquee announcers).
    And it is at WTMD in Towson, MD, where the old WHFS spirit still lives on the best. For the HFS spirit grew directly out of the progressive radio movement that overtook college campus radio nationwide in the late 1960s to early 1970s. And, oh yes, Weasel works there. Three hours every Friday evening of vintage feast-your-ears Weasel in the progressive fashion of old WHFS.

  6. Will someone release any and all live recordings from any root boy slim shows recorded before 1978 asap? Will someone get the book tommy ruger - the drummer for rb slim- wrote about the band published asap?