In an effort to be as transparent as possible, let me admit upfront that I have a love/hate relationship with traditional terrestrial radio. I'm old enough that I spent some of my twenties working at true commercial alternative FM music radio stations, a format that is as common in 2015 as the all-big band music mix. I don't feel connected to the format the way I did back then, primarily because consultants, large group ownerships and overall industry angst have
squeezed most of the unpredictability out of the stations.
That old guy rant having been said, if you live in the Twin Cities and you want to listen to a station with DJ's who sound as if they aren't just punching some soul-sucking musical timeclock, your best option is The Current. Owned and operated by Minnesota Public Radio, the station walks that line between free-form and preciously twee. There's a fair dose of local music and while there are times when the energy level of the music lags, that might just be a reflection of my current obsession with quirky alt-pop. But despite the occasional appearances of Tom Waits, the engaging on-air personalities keep the station a must-listen to destination.
One of the best reasons to listen is David Campbell, who hosts both "Radio Free Current" and "The Local Show." He's the face of local and homegown music at the station and it doesn't hurt that he looks like someone who runs an artisanal Haggis cafe during the day while fronting a Wilco cover band at night. All of that makes Campbell a good choice to host The Current's new video series "Alright Guy, Solid DJ," a weekly YouTube show that will premiere every Thursday.
Having only seen the first edition of the show, it's difficult to dive too deeply in the format. But in an accompanying introductory video, Campbell promises the series will include behind-the-scenes footage of the station, off-the-cuff interviews and other random stuff. Which could mean just about anything.
Episode one features a game of "say the first thing that comes into your head" (or "Like A Minute With) with Mugsy and J.T. from the local group "Black Diet." As you might expect from the segment, it's funny, offbeat and a good chance to see the band in a unfamiliar situation. The whole episode only runs 2;25 and while it could easily be a minute longer without risking turnout from viewers, it's a fun effort that fits in well with the brand of The Current.
Two little housekeeping notes about the episode. While Campbell introduces the band members, having an onscreen reminder of their names at some point might be helpful for people who aren't familiar with the band. And while the video includes a link to a Black Diet live performance at the station, there is no contact info at all for the group, even in the YouTube notes that accompany the video. Which seems a bit unfair, since the notes include everything from the credit for the show's music theme to a link to contribute to the station.
And here is where you can subscribe to "Alright Guy, Solid DJ."