The great R&B
station and the disc jockeys who were so much fun are long gone, and beyond
my own priceless collection of recordings, I never thought Id hear
anything like WAOK again. The so-called oldies stations, which
years ago I learned to despise, offered nothingthen or nowremotely
creative, and my America was becoming more vanilla by the day.
One morning, in 1997,
I tuned into a station in Atlanta, WGKA, because their format was classical.
Instead of the usual fare of Mozart, I heard Little Richard blaring out
Slippin and Slidin, one of my childhood favorites. The
live program was hosted by Brian Eagan, and was called THE RHYTHM CLUB.
For three glorious years, I, along with many other listeners, called in
R&B requests to Brian, often believing I could submit ones he either
didnt have or didnt know about. My litmus test was Wilbert
Harrisons Dont Drop It, complete with lyrics like
Ill let you keep it tonight if you hold it real tight.
of course, found and promptly played it, giving the radio audience a college-level
discourse on R&B and the importance of this music in popular music
culture. From childhood in San Bernardino, California, Eagan
told me during an interview, where I first heard this great music
on the radio, I felt joy and knew this was way beyond the ordinary. I
genuinely believe this is vital American music. Thus, the enthusiasm
was born which Eagan continues sharing with his growing radio audience.
While THE RHYTHM
CLUB was born in Atlanta, it transferred quite easily to Amherst, Massachusetts
where Eagan, who is enrolled at the University of Massachusetts as a graduate
student working towards a Masters degree in history, broadcasts his show
from the university station, WMUA-FM. The show, which in response to audience
demands has been extended to three hours, features Eagans recordings
from his collection of vinyls, tapes and CDs accumulated since his
format is vintage Brian Eagan. Requests are expected, and within the constraints
of time are honored. The easiest way to request is by email, which allows
Eagan some lead-time to locate a particular recording. However, there
is call-in number and the host will answer it personally.
There is a Brian
Eagan beyond THE RHYTHM CLUB and graduate school. As a radio professional,
Eagan has garnered almost a dozen industry awards including being honored
by the Massachusetts Association of Broadcasters as the Air Personality
of the Year, in 1996. Radio observers believe that Eagan, already
a solid veteran, has a career that will take him to the top of his profession.
Satellite radio? A syndicated radio show? Those are interesting questions,
and Im willing to wager Brian Eagan will become a household name
THE RHYTHM CLUB
serves several functions. First, as Eagan wants it to be, it is a source
of enormous entertainment. Next, because of Eagans vast knowledge
and music library, it is very educational. Heritage isnt as important
in popular culture today, largely, I believe, because of media ownership
concentration and homogenized, often mindless programming. THE RHYTHM
CLUB preserves the cultural contributions of Rhythm and Blues and continues
to bring it into the cars and living rooms of more listeners and new audiences.
If youre looking
for a way to lose those hot weather blues, and if you enjoy toe-tapping
music and lyrics sure to turn a frown into a smile, tune in to THE RHYTHM
CLUB. Access through the internet is easy. Go to www.wmua.org
- or click the image to the right. The show is each Saturday from 9 p.m.
until midnight, Eastern Time.