Book Review: ‘Playing in the FM Band: A Personal Account of Free Radio,’ by Steve Post

Playing in the FM Band, by Steve Post

This combination autobiography/story of a radio station/history of a radio show begins with an acknowledgment apparently aimed at me and my closest friends.

“A special thanks, of course,” writes Steve Post, “to my six listeners, who, had they not been total social outcasts, most surely would have found something better to do on Saturday and Sunday nights.”

Well, possibly he’s right. But if there were “something better to do” than listen to Post’s show every weekend night from midnight till whenever (usually dawn), I have no idea what it might have been. And though Post was largely responsible for the lines that remained under my eyes throughout the late sixties, I bear no grudges. I’d still trade a good night’s sleep for the chance to hear his show anytime.

Unpredictability was its byword. A classical recording would typically be followed by an interview with Spiro Agnew (as impersonated by humorist Marshall Effron) and then by the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Next might come a phone conversation with one of Post’s regular callers, perhaps the Alpha-Bits Kid, the crazed Ira Epstein, or the infamous Enema Lady. And then maybe a chat with Abbie Hoffman or Paul Krassner. Or another interview, this time with Effron playing the role of a talking duck.

In Playing in the FM Band, Post vividly describes this innovative show, as well as his “life behind the microphone.” He also devotes much space to a discussion of WBAI, the unique, listener-sponsored New York City station that broadcast his program.

Post additionally chronicles his experiences during a brief flirtation with commercial radio and recalls an equally short period as program director of C.W. Post College’s radio station (“Post Loses Post Post”). Finally, he offers an articulate defense of the First Amendment and makes a good case for radio’s potential in this video-crazed age.

The volume is a must for anyone interested in radio, humor, or freedom of speech.

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