The following is a letter from a dedicated listener (a “culture and media critic”), who, when the Gypsy Scholar’s two programs Rave On (current events program) and The Tower of Song (music program) were in danger of being cut from the program lineup during KUSP’s “restructuring” period in 2008, wrote management in order to preserve these programs. Because the letter is by far the most supportive, not only of any other testimonies of support that the GS received in at that time but of any other time during his long tenure at KUSP, the GS has decided to post it for all to read on the website. Somehow the letter never reached the GS personally at the time of restructuring, but was found in his mailbox just some weeks ago. Given that the Rave On program, like many other “locally-produced” programs, didn’t survive the restructuring, the letter has been edited in order to be relevant only to the general support of the GS and his endeavors on radio and not the “politics” of the restructuring at that time. Therefore, GS is both humbled by the praise and proud to be able to display such a singularly supportive letter, and profoundly thanks its author for such.
PS: About the matter, commented upon in the letter, of not using my real name as a radio host, but calling myself instead the “Gypsy Scholar” (and occasionally, for straight “music” programs, “DJ Orfeo”). There are two reasons for this: (1) I’m not concerned with taking credit for the innovative program and its contents, since I’m volunteering on the radio as an “amateur” scholar, who is engaged in a labor of love and (2) the radio handle “Wolfman Jack” was already taken!)
STANDING UP FOR THE RIGHT TO "RAVE ON"
Valuing Singularity, Recognizing Creativity
While there are many worthy daytime and late night programs none is so emblematic, nor so singularly unique, intellectually ambitious, and politically courageous and as the project of "Re-Vision Radio" conceived by the eponymous "Gypsy Scholar." For those who may not be sufficiently familiar with this programming due to its current Sunday night after midnight placement, it consists of two segments of often utterly different, yet hauntingly connected and sometimes overlapping programming known as Rave On and The Tower of Song. The relatively recent undertaking of “Re-Vision Radio” is simply one of the most innovative and challenging programs to come along in some time. There are several strong arguments to be made for its retention on KUSP in the late-night time slots or elsewhere, and my remarks here come not simply as a listener-supporter of the program, but rather from the perspective of a culture and media critic. Through the artful interweaving of musical offerings within the content of the wide-ranging discourse in the various commentaries, interviews, and conference presentations one is always bound to go away with at least one compelling re-appraisal of his or her previous perceptions—of the program itself and of the way the world really works.
One's initial impression is likely to be struck with the recognition that any program which can move with such ease between the deep controversies of the 9/11 event and, for instance, the history and future implications of advanced entheogenic research, all the while subtly orchestrated with familiar but out of context music. It's unexpected novelties can quickly convince the most jaded listener that this something to stay awake for. Yet what makes this seemingly eclectic program seductively appealing for a wider un-informed audience is that one does not have to agree or disagree with the positions taken by the host or his guests to find it stimulating and worthwhile. Such is the depth of the subject matter that it also functions well as the model substitute or counterpoint to the commercial shock-jock shows who try to pump up their audience by drawing in listeners who will be predictably offended or outraged by the commentary. The Rave On program routinely makes a case for something, which some people will surely disbelieve or disagree with, but those are precisely the listeners who seem to be equally solicited into the conversation, not by offending them, but by challenging them and inviting them to rethink their existing pre-suppositions.
Who Needs Consistency, And Who Even Wants It?
There is also an equally impressive website which is quite nicely done in both its aesthetic appeal and the interconnection of the symbolic referents of the metaphysical universe that the programmer is seeking to invoke and draw upon. Like all individually crafted programs, as opposed to the uniformity of slick commercial productions, this one has its own quirks and bumpy stretches and occasional repetitions. (Perhaps a more equal balancing of the relative time spent on the several components of music, live commentary, guest interviews, and airing of pre-recorded presentations and public conferences or seminars might be in order, but these are mere technical aspects that usually get refined over time.) One might prefer a different name for the host than "The Gypsy Scholar," for instance, but here too there is something to be appreciated in the symbolic significance of the gesture. The most significant thing about this host not using his own personal name is that it establishes an important precedent for breaking with the automatic posturing of almost all commercial media hosts who constantly repeat "I'm Joe Blow" . . . "and I'm Mary Magdalene," and so forth.
With the Gypsy Scholar, hour for hour, there still is nothing on the air in the rest of progressive Northern California which attempts so much that no one else is doing to cultivate intelligent, socially and politically aware listeners. Rave On and The Tower of Song individually and as a sequential couplet provide both elements of talk radio with selective commentary on contemporary news interspersed with musical soundtrack, more often than not leaving even the most informed listener with at least a few things he or she had not considered before. As such, these offerings represent a welcome hybrid that should be strongly supported by the station within whatever new format occurs, and they seem ready-made for the late night hours where there must be some space to be found for their uniqueness.
The beauty and the bargain with non-profit radio that one learns to accept without complaint individual music programs that one doesn't particularly like so that one can also have their own favorite program that not everyone else likes. This is the welcome format that the local community radio audiences have learned to accept in preference to the 24-hour stylistic monotony of the commercial approach. Neither Rave On nor The Tower of Song are clones, neither merely another simulation of some existing national program style, of which we all have more than enough. That alone is a virtue that makes them worth having. It is not difficult to argue that the Gypsy Scholar’s program is probably the most original and creative program on the station—therefore, KEEP IT ON!