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30 YEARS OF DANA & CARL: The Origin Of THIS IS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL RADIO

This Sunday, January 16th, 2022, This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Dana & Carl radio shows. Here’s a look back at how we started.

It was Dana’s idea.This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl debuted on December 27th, 1998. It was the beginning of a long Sunday night tenure that has now lasted for more than 1100 shows over the course of 23 years and counting. But it wasn’t the first Dana & Carl radio show; it was a continuation of something we’d already started years before. If we’re going to tell the history of This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, we have to tell the prehistory. We have to start with We’re Your Friends For Now, and how We’re Your Friends For Now eventually became TIRnRR.I met Dana some time in the ’80s. Our paths almost certainly crossed early in the decade at some Screen Test or 1.4.5. show, during the final flourish of the Syracuse new wave scene, before raising the drinking age to 21 suffocated the scene in 1985. Neither of us remembers meeting the other at the time. Because, y’know, beer. Other than sporadic visits back home, I spent most of the ’80s away from Syracuse anyway, living in Brockport and Buffalo before my wife Brenda and I moved permanently to the 315 in 1987. My high school pal Jay Hammond introduced us to Dana that summer, I think, noting our mutual interest in that drivin’ rock ‘n’ roll beat, man, the beat. Brenda and I had an apartment on the North side; Dana and his wife Maria had a house on Valley Drive. My memory tells me that my first visit to Dana and Maria’s stately Bonn Manor was a cookout, and there was music: the Beatles, the Stooges, the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, the Beatles, the Flamin’ Groovies, the Beatles, the Ramones, the Beatles, the Beatles, and the Beatles. Okay. I’m right at home here.

We all got to be friends, and saw each other with some frequency. Brenda and I quickly grew tired of apartment life–the crazy neighbor who carved YOU DIE!! into the vestibule outside our door may have been a factor in that–and we bought a house in the Northern suburbs in 1989. We had occasional parties, for New Year’s Eve and–of course!–the Season Two premiere of Twin Peaks. Dana and Maria were among our regular guests at these festivities.

Near the end of 1991, The Syracuse New Times published a notice that something called WNMA was accepting proposals from would-be radio programmers. Other than hanging around with some pals at the campus radio station at Brockport, my only previous radio experience was as a guest DJ on WBNY-FM in Buffalo. But c’mon–what dyed-in-the-wool music fan wouldn’t want a shot at turning listeners on to Fave Rave tunes? I was intrigued, but unsure. Someone–Brenda perhaps–may have suggested that I could do a show with Dana. Maybe someone made a similar suggestion to Dana. Whatever path led to the moment, it was during our New Year’s Eve party at Casa Cafarelli, as we bid adieu to ’91, that Dana said to me, You wanna do a show?

Dana contacted the good folks at WNMA, and a meeting was scheduled for after work on the evening of January 15th, 1992. WNMA was run by Lee Spinks and a guy named Greg, whose last name my memory bank long ago surrendered to the ether. Dana and I made our tentative pitch, a show co-hosted by two record collectors sharing knowledge and enthusiasm with an audience starved for more than commercial radio was serving them. We did some mock patter; Lee and Greg thought I didn’t speak enough, and I’ve been overcompensating for that ever since. They asked us to record a demo show, right there and then. The first song we played was “Why Do You Treat Me Like A Tramp?” by Gashead. We segued Phil Ochs‘ “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” into “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” by the Ohio Express, or maybe it was vice versa. Our demo passed the audition and went out on the air that very night.

“On the air.” That meant something a little bit different at WNMA. WNMA wasn’t a traditional station, but a project called Radiovision, an audio background to play behind community bulletins on the city’s cable TV system. Our friend Dave Murray quipped that we weren’t a real radio station, but we played one on TV.

When we recorded our demo, Greg and Lee asked us for the name of our would-be radio show. Huh–neither Dana nor I had thought much about that. I blurted out, “We’re your friends…for now!” I think we meant to change it, but we never did. After that 90-minute pilot on 1/15/92, our three-hour weekly show We’re Your Friends For Now aired Monday nights 11 pm to 2 am. We recorded the shows on cassette in WNMA’s (sorta) converted storefront studio earlier in the evening, and they played back at the designated time. We specialized in theme shows, starting with a psychedelic (i.e., ’60s garage) show on 1/19/72, and rippin’ our way through subsequent shows dedicated to pure pop, soul/jazz/R & B, instrumentals (“music too good for words!”), covers, 45s, punk/new wave, live recordings, rock ‘n’ roll soundtracks, Beatles rarities, the British Invasion, 1987-1992, girl groups and female singers, the ’70s, comedy and novelty rock, the MonkeesApple Records, and the sounds of summer, with several themeless shows thrown in here and there. We’re Your Friends For Now wasn’t exactly the same as whatever This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio is, but it was similar. And it ended much too soon.

When we arrived at the studio for our sounds of summer show on June 1st, 1992, we were informed that WNMA would be terminating its affiliation with the cable company, effectively killing We’re Your Friends For Now and all other WNMA shows. We weren’t allowed to say anything about that publicly, not yet, so we sullenly went about our business of playing surf ‘n’ sun tunes as the rain fell and our moods faded to freakin’ black. We did themeless shows for the brief remainder of our run, concluding with our Sayonara Show on 6/29/92.

Lee Spinks still had a long-term goal of turning WNMA into an independent broadcast station. Spinks invited a number of WNMA programmers (including your intrepid Friends For Now) to join him in that ongoing effort, but after a few meetings, the group split acrimoniously. Dana and I were among those who stuck together to form a new group, dedicated to that same goal of establishing a community radio station. This was the birth of Syracuse Community Radio.

Meetings. Plans. Arguments. Searches for compromise, attempts to merge disparate views into a workable, unified vision. Is this really how you build a better radio station? Yeah, I guess it is. I was selected as the treasurer. I just wanted to play my records on the radio, man.

Dana and Maria separated during the Radiovision project. It was as amicable a split as anything involving lawyers could be, but it was still a split, and eventually a divorce. They remain friends. Dana bought a house in Mattydale. In the midst of all these endless meetings, we wanted the Dana & Carl show to find a way to survive in some form. Dana had some basic recording gear at home. We weren’t done just yet.

So yeah, the Dana & Carl show began in 1992. Further collaborations brought us through the ’90s to the actual debut of This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio in the waning moments of 1998. We’ve been here ever since.Please join us Sunday, January 16th, 2022, for a celebration of our weird longevity: WE’RE YOUR FRIENDS FOR NOW–30 YEARS OF DANA & CARLSunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, https://sparksyracuse.org/

Congratulations to Dana & Carl for 30 years of sharing their passion for great music! Here’s to 30 more!!

Dan Pavelich

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Boppin'

Personal Questions

Boppin’ Like The Hip Folks Do by Carl Cafarelli

As we all know, our online accounts require us to establish security questions, personal inquiries presumed to be sufficiently arcane that only we know our own secret answers. Each of the following security questions is accompanied by an answer that is technically true for me, at least on some level. They’re not the answers I’d use for any account, mind you, but they are real answers.

FIRST SURGERY

Birth. Really my Mom’s surgery, sure, but I was there. (True story: Mom fell and broke her leg while she was pregnant with your beloved future blogger. Which probably explains a lot.)

MAKE OF FIRST CAR

FIRST KISS

December 16th, 1976 at the Onondaga County War Memorial, with Uriah Heep opening. I wouldn’t get my first KISS record until the following June, when my sister gave me the Rock And Roll Over LP as a high school graduation gift.

WHERE YOU MET YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER

Oh, I just met lovely wife Brenda at a Mexican restaurant in North Syracuse for dinner after work on Tuesday night.

FIRST AIRPLANE TRIP

Started in one airport, ended in a different airport.

FAVORITE BOOK

Ron Glass. He was also the only actor to play the character of Book on the TV series Firefly and the subsequent movie Serenity.

FAVORITE TV SHOW

Radiovision by default; it’s the only TV show I ever did, co-hosted with my future This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio partner Dana Bonn. You can read the story here, and even see the damned thing here. We also appeared as guests on local ABC affiliate talk show Bridge Street, I participated in some public access cable talk shows in high school, and I used to be interviewed at work every summer by TV reporters doing stories about people suddenly rushing to buy air conditioners when it’s hot–imagine that! But Radiovision remains my only TV show.

FAVORITE RECORD

The late John Wicks. Great talent, and a hell of a nice guy.

John Wicks, CC, Paul Collins, Dana Bonn, This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio 6/11/09

FAVORITE MOVIE

“Movie” is an odd phrase to use in reference to fans of the fab ’60s British group The Move, but we’ll go with it. And it’s a four-way tie for my favorite Movie, as Gary FrenayPaul ArmstrongArty Lenin, and Tommy Allen–collectively, The Flashcubes–recorded Sportin’ Wood, a tribute album to The Move’s main man Roy Wood. Hello Suzie!

FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM

That answer’s evolved, but when I was a kid, we’d have to change the spelling a bit for the correct answer: I loved Teem soda. And I drank it at MacArthur Stadium while ignoring baseball games, so y’know, sports.

Later on, my favorite football team would be Huxley.

DREAM VACATION

FAVORITE MUSICIAN

Nah, with a few exceptions, I was never much for Musician. I was more of a Phonograph Record MagazineBomp!Trouser PressGoldmine, and CREEM guy. Among others!

NAME OF YOUR BEST FRIEND IN SCHOOL

In grade school? Batman. In middle school? WOLF-AM.

NAME OF FIRST PET

Sharon Bailey, May 1972. Took surreptitious glances at the smoke shop in White-Modell department store. Was smitten. Weird that no one ever asks “Name of first Playmate?”

Nancy McNeil, July 1969

TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 
Fans of pop music will want to check out Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, a new pop compilation benefiting SPARK! Syracuse, the home of This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & CarlTIR’N’RR Allstars–Steve StoeckelBruce GordonJoel TinnelStacy CarsonEytan MirskyTeresa CowlesDan PavelichIrene Peña, Keith Klingensmith, and Rich Firestone–offer a fantastic new version of The Kinks’ classic “Waterloo Sunset.” That’s supplemented by eleven more tracks (plus a hidden bonus track), including previously-unreleased gems from The Click BeetlesEytan MirskyPop Co-OpIrene PeñaMichael Slawter (covering The Posies), and The Anderson Council (covering XTC), a new remix of “Infinite Soul” by The Grip Weeds, and familiar TIRnRR Fave Raves by Vegas With RandolphGretchen’s WheelThe Armoires, and Pacific Soul Ltd. Oh, and that mystery bonus track? It’s exquisite. You need this. You’re buying it from Futureman.

Get MORE Carl! Check out the fourth and latest issue of the mighty Big Stir magazine at bigstirrecords.com/magazine
Hey, Carl’s writin’ a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 100 essays (and then some) about 100 tracks, plus two bonus instrumentals, each one of ’em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).