I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to read FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio; the book came out in 2001 and I only just picked it up from the library the other day.

FM is by Richard Neer, who has been a disc jockey, talk show host, music director and programmer for a variety of radio stations in the New York area, including WNEW-FM, an iconic progressive-rock radio station in New York City. Their slogan was “Where Rock Lives,” and they weren’t kidding.  Sadly, the station itself doesn’t exist anymore — 102.7 is now WWFS, “hot adult contemporary” (whatever that means) — but the old “Where Rock Lives” format is available online at WNEW.com and on HD radio.   If you’ve figured out by now that I loved this radio station, you’d be right.  My taste in music has always been eclectic — everything from 60s pop to bluegrass to country to classic rock to classical to baroque — and WNEW-FM was one of my presets for many, many years.  XM has two stations that are similar, channel 46 (Classic Vinyl) and channel 49 (Classic Rewind) and, in fact, several former WNEW DJ’s host shows on these stations (including Richard’s brother, Dan Neer), and both are presets on my XM radio right now.

These days, Neer is a weekend and fill-in host at WFAN in New York, the country’s first all sports station. He’s been called “Sir Sominex” by media writer Bob Raissman, but his fans call him “The Voice of Reason.” I happen to like Neer’s quiet, restrained style (despite his periodic left-wing political pronouncements) and still listen to him on Saturday mornings (this time, through the miracle that is streaming audio via WFAN.com) and think he’s one of the best hosts at that station.  Yes, I admit it — one of my vices is a fondness for sports radio.  When I’m home on weekends, I pretty much always have WFAN streaming in the background.

But that’s not why I have long wanted to read the book.  FM is a fascinating look at the New York radio scene starting with the invention of FM radio in the 1950s.  It’s well-written and is chock-full of interesting anecdotes about people and events that will be familiar to anyone who loves radio and rock music, even if they’re not from New York.  I cannot recommend it highly enough and will be sorry to have to return it to the library.  Amazon has it in stock, so I might find myself buying it some day.  It’s also the last non-“light reading” I’ll be doing for a while.  Summer semester starts tomorrow, and I’m taking civil procedure and a very intensive class on computer applications for law firms, so I won’t have as much time for pleasure reading through the end of July.  It’s a good thing that both Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas have books coming out in the next few weeks because they are likely all I’ll be in the mood for.

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