Sam Cook-Parrott’s charmingly ramshackle guitar-pop provides an excellent soundtrack for driving fast, windows-down, through some anonymous sunny stretch of freeway. Unfortunately, I don’t have a car and I’m stuck in an office, so his music, under the name Radiator Hospital, instead provides a soundtrack for mindless data entry. We can’t always get what we want.
I sat down (in front of a computer) with Sam Cook-Parrott (who was in front of a different computer) to learn a little more about his project.
If you could play bocce ball and sip lemonade with any musician—any—who would it be and why? Mind the context.
Prince. Or Chris Knox from Tall Dwarfs.
You wrote that your song The Great Escape is about“getting so lost in movies and records and books and tv that you wake up one day and realize you let your life pass you by.” Was there a particular moment that caused you to Wake Up? What was it?
I don’t really think I have. But the song came to me in the fall. I wanted to go see “Skyfall” the James Bond movie, but I got to the theatre and it was sold out so I went and saw the movie “Flight” with Denzel Washington instead. When I got out of the movie I still really wanted to see “Skyfall” so I checked the showings and there was still one that night so I got a ticket. I wrote the majority of the song at the theatre between the 2 movies.
What was the first R-Rated movie you ever saw? Was the viewing facilitated by your parents?
I think it was probably “Speed.” My parents were around and OK’d it but they weren’t watching it I don’t think.
You wrote that your Dad’s record-collecting habits were instrumental to your musical development. What music did you grow up around? Any artists in particular?
All kinds of stuff, anything from early rock ‘n’ roll to girl groups and doo wop to new wave and punk. Notable faves me and my dad share are Elvises Costello and Presley, the Clash, and Prince.
Which band(s) helped you survive middle school?
Lots of different bands, of particular note Weezer’s “Pinkerton.”
Which band(s) are helping you survive the now?
Lots of different bands, been really into Velvet Crush and Teenage Fanclub.
On your blog you mention that you spend a lot of time trying to get lost books/movies/etc., and that this record serves as an homage to the worlds that you get lost within. Which media—books, music, comics, video games—provides the best (or easiest) escape? Why? Any titles in particular?
That depends I guess. Everyone is different. For me it’s movies. I romanticize the movie theatre a bit too much. I’m sort of like Mia Farrow in “Purple Rose Of Cairo.” Music too though obviously, whether playing my own music or listening to records and being at a show.
Because of repairs to station equipment, WOBC will be off the air for the remainder of this week – with luck, we’ll be back some time next week. Being an independent community radio station means that when something breaks… we’re the ones who repair it! A crucial part of our mixing board (see above) unfortunately broke, and we’re going to have to take some time off to fix it. With the help of our wonderful engineers, we’ll be surveying the damage, ordering new parts, fixing what needs fixing, and before you know it, Oberlin freeform radio will live again!
Radio Bruxxsel, which airs every Friday at 8AM this summer, brings a multilingual mix of the fun and familiar from far away places. An homage to the trilingual and fun-loving kingdom of Belgium, we play retro, indie rock, nordic pop, french new wave, tropical beats, 80s & 90s dance, german synth, random selections from around Europe and beyond, in as many languages as possible.
We take our inspiration from Brussels, Belgium’s officially bilingual capital. Also the seat of the European Union, you can hear all the languages of Europe in its de-facto capital city. Brussels is also home to immigrants from around the world, so it’s not unusual to hear people speaking in the tongues of Africa, South America and Asia. This polyglot mix has inspired us to produce a multilingual hour of music every week this summer on WOBC.
Your hosts DJs Marceleaux and Miguelito will be playin a special all-Belgian edition this Friday July 19 in honor of the Belgian National Holiday. Belgium, that little country wedged between the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France, known worldwide for its beers, its fries, its waffles, and comic strip culture (think Smurfs, Tintin), has also produced an incredible amount of amazing music over the years. Some music you might even love and not know it’s Belgian. Technotronic and Jacques Brel come to mind. We will be playing a tiny selection of Belgian hits, in Dutch and French, the languages the majority of Belgians speak at home, but also in German, Spanish, and of course, in English, which many a Belgian artist make use of in their music. A set that will scream, Happy Birthday Belgium!
It’s an exciting day here at WOBC – A whole new slate of programming for the summer has arrived to your college & community radio station! Although renovations in our building mean we won’t be broadcasting on your FM dial for now, our webstream will always be up and running. Listen online from 8 AM – 4 PM, Monday through Friday, and check out the schedule to discover all the great shows we have this summer. Long live freeform radio!
Applications for summer programming at WOBC are now available! No experience necessary! Applications are due the night of Friday, June 14. Programming will start Monday, June 17 and end Friday, August 23. Got any questions? Contact us here.
Ready to rock the summer? Go fill out that application at wobc.org/apply!
WOBC’s outreach team sends a call to WOBC veterans to write us
their fondest memories and favorite radio-related anecdotes…
Here are some of the responses we’ve received:
I was with WOBC all 4 years of my time at Oberlin, waaaaaaaaaay back in the early 1980s. Senior year I was the Jazz Director and Public Affairs Director. We had equipment from the 1950s, and CDs weren’t even a twinkle in the future’s eye. Everything was on LPs.
There were 2 other people on the “Executive Board”, as it was called back then, one named David Greene, and the other Karen Glauber. Karen was on the air doing her show (she went on to do some pretty cool things with Indy Rock at A&M Records), and at the time there was a glass panel between the control room and the studio where we sometimes had live performances. David thought it would be excellent to, well, drop his drawers and press his posterior against the glass while Karen was talking on the air. Karen, upon seeing the full moon over Oberlin, proclaimed to her listening audience, “David Greene has pimples on his a**!!”
While not a moment for the broadcast journalism hall of fame, it was, nonetheless, rather funny, perhaps in a “you had to be there” kind of way??
My guess is that this kind of history is not exactly what you are seeking. But, 30 year hence it still, so to speak, sticks out in my memory as a formative event during my WOBC years.
Can’t wait to drop by the station this commencement weekend!! I haven’t been there since my 20th reunion, 10 years ago. Thanks for putting this together!!
P.S. I remain committed to being fully clothed in public despite that event, so no worries about the unsightly during my drop-in to WOBC!
I wasn’t a DJ but a newscast member. My first week, Jerry Parra (station manager) took time to teach us how to correctly pronounce “Nicaragua.” Let’s just say that it took this Vermonter more than a few times to get it right!
– Lucinda Walker ’86
Not a DJ but I married one. Well, to qualify this: I *was* a DJ, modestly a co-DJ, with my friend Kai downstairs at the ‘sco. But my wife, Lucinda Walker (’86), now a small town library director in Vermont, did have a stint at OBC. I ventured up into the “attic” of the radio station (“musty” and “ochre” come to mind) only once. I think it was during my junior year, or early in my senior year, 1985, I was interviewed inside a small interior studio by a middle-aged man from outside Oberlin who was an editor at a local literary journal The Black River Review (he had a regular show, as far as I know). This constituted my first interview and, in a way, it was my “public foray” into authorship. In my senior year, and–significantly–in a tiny room in the center of a gray off-campus house, I started listening to WOBC regularly–and I wish I had started earlier. The connection to what the DJ chose to play was compelling, even while what was spinning were new worlds. Back from the first Oberlin semester in Dublin, Ireland (having seen R.E.M. play to about fifty young Irish–AFTER they had played Finney), I was starting to find affinities beyond what I had previously known.
Long live OBC. Viva!
I had a show with Anna McGlynn (also ’07) where we interviewed writers, both students and professors. We got sort of sick of doing real interviews so one day we had “Jesus” come on as a guest. My mom and Anna’s mom both called in because they were worried we were being offensive.
Josh Rubin: Wow, so many people I know in the thread. I was jazz director immediately after David Dunn, then Program Director for two years (first year shared the spot with Lorenzo “Jerry” Parra, second year Jerry was Station Manager and I was sole PD). Also friends with Peter and Lucinda during time at OC and after (hi, guys). Way too much history for me to tell all, so, since Dave posted and Lucinda mentioned Jerry, I’ll tell a story about the two of them. Jerry was in charge of news/public affairs in ’82-83. He liberated our newscasts from the old UPI teletype, brought in a very early PC (one of the infamous Oberlin Osbornes) and had us subscribe to Interlink/Interpress news service which we received via the computer for a more global perspective on news. Before he did this, he raised the issue with the board and some objected to giving up UPI. Dave gave an impassioned defense of Jerry’s vision and commitment to WOBC providing news that is as alternative as the music was. Dave’s speech ended with something to the effect of “after all of the great things this mensch, this bubbe, has done for WOBC news, we really ought to give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Other memories — Station Manager David Greene (81-82) climbing the antenna in a thunderstorm to make some repairs. Scared the shit out of us.
A live jam Louie Louie marathon — anyone could drop in with any instrument and join in. I think we played it continuously for 12 hours or more.
Interviewing Graham Chapman.
Finally, I commented on the April 7 history thread. I still don’t recognize who those people are.
— Josh Rubin ’85
(And one more love note from a WOBC DJ)
For me, WOBC has always been synonymous with cute guys. There’s just something about doing community radio and appreciating good music that makes people 100% more attractive to me. For reference, I usually go for people who look like pirates, but WOBC has expanded this taste to include people who look like heroin addicts and 1990s dads. Name a boy who was in a position of power at WOBC during my 4 year tenure here, and I will quickly relate an anecdote about the time we bonded over Kentucky, 13th Floor Elevators, or something weird at a filing party. Good lord, you’re all so cute.
WOBC parties provided many opportunities for flirting, failure, and NOT getting to make out with former Metal Director Charlie O’Hara. I could go on and on about the heartbreak, exciting stories, tears, belligerence and FEELINGS related to radio boys, but that would be dull. So all I’m gonna say is, if in 10-15 years, any of you fellas wanna be the cute music-nerdy father of my children, that’d be chill. We could name them Townes, and Loretta and they’d have excellent taste in music and they’d ALWAYS clap on the beat. Just throwing that out there…
If you have any WOBC related memories or love notes you would like to share, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.