New Sounds

I read in the Times last week that WNYC is dropping New Sounds, after 37 years on the air. I think I started listening to New Sounds when I was in high school, so I guess I was in on it almost from the start. It’s always aired at 11 PM on weeknights, so that’s usually past my bedtime. But I used to stay up late sometimes, back when I was a lot younger. I know that I discovered a few artists on New Sounds that I still love, like Brian Eno and Harold Budd. I remember first hearing their album The Pearl on New Sounds. Coincidentally, I just heard Late October from that album on BBC Radio 3 a couple of days ago (via my Sonos One). It was an unexpected surprise, and a nice way to start my morning.

Both New Sounds and a show called Synthetic Pleasure on WFMU were responsible for me expanding my musical horizons beyond classic rock and getting into electronic music and other experimental stuff,  back when I was a kid. These days, I get most of my electronic/ambient music from podcasts, like Monday Graveyard and Future Astronauts, and from recommendations in Warren Ellis’ newsletter.

If there was an easy way to time-shift New Sounds and listen to it as a podcast, I’d be listening to it regularly too. It’s easy enough to listen to it online, but no easy way to download it. And there’s a 24/7 New Sounds stream that I can listen to on my Sonos, but it’s not quite the same as listening to the actual show.

It’s kind of amazing that the show has lasted so long, at the same station, in the same time slot, with the same great host, John Schaefer. But I guess all good things must come to an end. The Times article says that WNYC will work with Schaefer “to find a new home for the New Sounds brand.” I hope they come up with something to keep New Sounds going, in some format. Clicking around on Twitter and Facebook, I see that there’s some grassroots efforts going on to save the show. I hope that leads somewhere positive, whether it means the show stays on WNYC, or moves to WQXR, or even if it goes online-only.

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