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Off The Record 

Table of Contents

  1. The Aesthetics of AM Radio

  2. Independent Music:  Toughen Up

  3. What Is Loren Ipsum?

  4. Bar-B-Que

  5. How To Restore Vintage LPs

  6. Christmas Beef Jerky

The Aesthetics of AM Radio
Jennifer Waits

Jennifer WaitsWhen was the last time that you tuned in to AM radio to listen to music?  Although I’m a huge evangelist for the ongoing importance of terrestrial radio (especially non-commercial radio), the AM slice of the radio band is a place that I only turn when I’m in my car looking for news, weather, and traffic information. But back when I was a kid, AM radio was huge and was the home to some of my favorite DJs and music shows. So, what happened?

In a fascinating essay, “The Day the (AM) Music Died,” in the PopMatters “Retroactive Listening: Perspectives on Music and Technology” series, Jay Somerset provides some historical perspective about how and why AM radio moved away from music to talk programming. He also discusses how the mono sound of AM contrasts with FM stereo and why certain styles of music were more suited to AM. He writes:  “Welcome to 1982, the oldies endpoint; the year the music froze, on the AM dial at least. Nowadays it seems ridiculous, but there was a time, before the fragmented niches offered by Internet and satellite radio came along (third-wave psychobilly radio, anyone?), the music dial was divided into two camps: contemporary hit music — almost exclusively AM’s domain — and older, or classical, or college, or jazz on newfangled, niche FM.

If you wanted a hit single, you produced it to sound good on AM radio, which meant eschewing deep bass and the low end for something that would sound best on the treble-heavy, tinny sound of an AM receiver, such as Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound production… To sound good on mono AM, you needed a dense, reverberant, everything-at-once sound rather than a dynamic, stereo recording that only sounded good on FM, which the majority of people never even listened to.”

He goes on to make the point that when music programming left AM for the cooler realm of FM radio around 1982, AM radio became the home for talk radio, sports, weather, and news. Despite the dominance of talk radio today, there are some holdout AM oldies stations that are mostly playing hits from 1965 to 1982.

As he wraps up his essay Jay talks about the trend for some modern musicians to simulate lo-fi, AM-friendly sounds and he wonders if any of these artists will ever actually get played on AM radio. He speculates that with changes to the terrestrial radio landscape, AM music radio could transform into a place that embrace these indie artists (he mentions Kurt Vile, Best Coast, and Neon Indian) who now find their homes on satellite, Internet and college radio:  “It would be interesting to actually hear some of this music that simulates the AM listening experience through lo-fi recording techniques on AM…At this point, it’s hard to imagine new music on AM. Yet now that satellite and Internet radio are kings and FM has gradually become a wasteland of oft-trotted Tom Pettyism, music may once again save the dial.”

He argues that AM radio could really open up to a variety of voices:  “AM has developed into a niche marketplace, not unlike community television from the early-’80s, with broadcasters renting out time slots for fractured audiences (religious, ethnic, federal workers, etc.). So it’s at least possible that an enterprising DJ with an ear tuned to the fringe pop…might start using AM again as a sound source, renting space, as it were, on a station and playing this music.

Why wouldn’t this music wind up on AM? Or is AM radio truly a long-gone source for music, forever frozen in the 1965-1982 period… Would people start tuning back into AM to hear specialized and contemporary AM programming that highlighted music like chill wave? It’s a possibility because, after all, the music may have died in 1982, but the sound lives on.”

Another interesting point to make is that with MP3 technology, younger ears are getting more and more accustomed to lo-fi music; so AM may actually be closer sonically to that sound coming out of iPod earbuds than to high fidelity music emanating from vinyl played on their grandparents’ stereo systems.  Do you think that certain styles of music sound better on AM radio?  And what do you think the future of AM radio will be?

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Independent Music:  Toughen Up
Terry Anderson

Terry AndersonI only own CDs, cassettes, LPs, etc. of 100% unsigned, struggling local, regional and nationally located bands or artists.  I have a ton of San Antonio/ Austin/ Dallas/ Houston music from bands that have come and gone.  They are like lovers, they change from time to time.  But we always seem to get another, regardless of how discouraging, to join with others in order for our souls to feel gratified.  I respect and admire the people that have poured their time and creativity into these projects.  Most of these bands are gone now and some still thrive today.  But, none of them have failed!  Quite the contrary, they all have made and continue to make, a lasting impression on those that knew them.  So, what is my point?  Success is widely recognized in terms of financial gain.  But, the real success in art doesn't come from financial gain.  Most artists are poor until death.  It comes from touching the lives of others, whether it is one or millions, with the offerings you have created from your own inherent talents.  Let no one or nothing in this world, especially simple words of a social network, detour you from your creations, your soul's gratification, from what makes those same people stop, watch and listen to you.  You are the one who decides how you are being perceived.  it is up to you to make the best art you can in order to share that same gratification with those that believe in you.  Do not let the opinion sway you from your course, especially when the real truth lies in your hands.  As we create and make public our music and art, we are opening the door for critics to manipulate others with their opinions.  This is to be expected, so toughen up. There have always been critics and there always will be.  Most of you are criticizing this as you read...  it's everywhere.  Be as strong and resilient and spit in the face of negativity.  For every negative reaction there is a positive reaction.  Focus on the latter.  If ignoring the desperate attempts of the critics, usually those that have nothing to offer that community, doesn't work for you, then stand up and do something about it.  Action gets the iob done!

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What is Lorem Ipsum?

CiceroLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum sagittis, eros vitae facilisis tincidunt, lectus tellus pharetra justo, et ultrices libero mi et sem. Donec a nisl mauris. Duis sed nunc eros. Donec facilisis ante ante. Integer facilisis scelerisque purus et pharetra. Nullam commodo enim et felis egestas, in consequat diam fringilla. Curabitur tincidunt nec augue et ultricies. Sed consectetur ligula at lectus vulputate tincidunt. Mauris ultricies pharetra commodo. Mauris ac accumsan erat, eget placerat nibh.


"Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit..."

"There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain..."


What is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Where does it come from?
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Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

Why do we use it?
It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

Where can I get some?
There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don't look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn't anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text. All the Lorem Ipsum generators on the Internet tend to repeat predefined chunks as necessary, making this the first true generator on the Internet. It uses a dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined with a handful of model sentence structures, to generate Lorem Ipsum which looks reasonable. The generated Lorem Ipsum is therefore always free from repetition, injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc.

Editor Note:  Content taken from
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Dewberry & The Smokers


The Casket BBQ Grill  (Pictured above)

This is my DIY BBQ that I built a couple of summers ago for my patio.  It is basically a casket on stilts, lined with cinder blocks, bricks and cement.  It has three sections, one for the rotisserie and one for a keep warm which will eventually be wired with an electric coil or gas.  The main grill is in the center.  It is built from a stainless steel shelving rack.  The crank adjustment was difficult to build and to level.  It is made of steel pipe, wire and pulleys.  Wire connects the pulleys on swivels and downward pressure is applied from below the pit with two 1 1/2 lb. lady barbell weights that are used as counter-weight.  Two screen door springs are used at the grill to apply upward pressure which gives it stability.  It can be cranked to within inches of the coals which makes for excellent steaks.

The rotisserie has an electric motor and spit and the grill has its own electrical circuit.  It slow roasts very nicely and a pork shoulder makes for tastey pulled-pork BBQ.  I use shallow baking pans in the grill for the coals which makes for easy clean up.  And, of course it would not be Texas without a smoker. (pictured in the background)  It is custom-made with 1/2 steel and holds heat and keeps a steady temperature.  A thermometer is on top and there are draft and chokes that control temperature and smoke.  I also have a supplemental Weber pot smoker, a hibatchi and an ordinary grill that are not pictured for garden parties. 

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How To Restore Vintage LPs


While serving in the military, every payday I would venture to the PX and pick up 5 or 6 LPs, which at the time cost about $6.00 per album.  I carried these albums with me through two unique enlistments around the world and from place to place through marriages and misfortunes.  Good times and bad.  Many of them mysteriously walked off.  Last summer I ran into an Army buddy, and we got together to go to a concert after 35+ years.  After the concert and a few beers, I noticed the pictured vintage turntable in his garage.  It is a Pioneer PL-530, the very same turntable we used to listen to in the barracks.  He asked me if I wanted it and told me he was going to throw it away.  Since I had this radio station running and my old albums, I took the turntable home and rebuilt it.  After ordering a stylus and setting it down on the first record, I realized that in order to play these on-the-air I would either have to trash these sentimental albums and forget the idea or buy new albums.  Albums are rather expensive these days, especially vintage ones.  I needed to find a way to restore them and bring them back to life.  After much research, along with some hit-and-miss attempts, I found a solid solution.  I noticed that ultrasonic record cleaners were available on the market for anywhere from $3000.00 to $5000.00 and reviews on the results were astounding.  There was no way that I could afford to purchase that kind of equipment.  I suspected that there had to be a way to either build an ultrasonic cleaner (in the process) or find another way to improvise and accomplish the same task.  Then one day as my wife was using her ultrasonic toothbrush, it occurred to me that it could work quite well sonically, although it would be labor intensive.  After experimentation on many records, I came up with a process that performs an excellent job.  My albums are fully restored and the sonic capabilities are even more enhanced than new ones I have purchased since.  Below, I have documented my process for you.  I have restored over one-hundred LPs without a hitch and in my opinion it is a safe alternative to other methods.

 Attention to detail is required,  Practice on a few badly scratched LPs.  Perform this process at your own risk !


Cleaning SuppliesCleaning Solution:

Fill a one gallon jug with 1/2 gallon distilled water, 1 pint of isopropyl alcohol at 90% by volume (70% contains additives such as lanolin), 1 pint of denatured alcohol, 2 drops of blue Dawn detergent and 2 drops of liquid Cascade Rinse Aid, which is used as a wetting agent and reduces surface tension.  This allows the solution to flow into the grooves of the record.  Do not use solid Cascade, as it will leave a grandular residue on the record.  The solution should be transferred to a sterile spray bottle and used as needed during the restoring process.  Do not use any type of ammonia based products such as glass cleaner.  Ammonia based products will break down vinyl over time.

Cleaning EquipmentCleaning Equipment:

First, you need something to lay the record on.  A microfiber dish mat works well, but an old turntable or a Lazy Susan will save you time and effort.  I use both.  I put a screw in the exact center of my Lazy Susan to keep the record properly centered while spinning it for finishing.  I also use an old Radio Shack plastic turntable I had in the garage for cleaning.  I took the belt off the drive, cut the electrical cord and removed the tone arm for easy access.  Do not use a functional turntable or one you will be using again.  This process is wet and will ruin your equipment.  To remove the grit, grime and parasites after cleaning, I use a light-duty wet/ dry vacuum with a rubber computer attachment that has a soft brush on the end.  Do not use a hard surface on the records.  I also have a bag of microfiber cloths that I use for drying purposes.  Keep them clean.  You do not want to cross-contaminate the records.


Restoration ToolThe Restoration Tool:

You will require a true ultrasonic toothbrush.  Do not be misled.  Some so-called sonic toothbrushes are not the answer.  You need one that actually emits ultrasonic sound waves.  It also has to vibrate and undulate simultaneously.  There are many on the market with great variations in price.  I found a reasonably priced toothbrush through searching on the Internet and recommend the Smile X Ultrasonic Toothbrush, Model AU-300D Rechargeable.  The two brush attachments that come with it are perfect for the job.  They get dirty, so regular cleaning is necessary to prevent cross-contamination.  Be sure to keep the toothbrush in the charger when not in use.



After restoration is completed, use a record cleaning static brush and brush your records with a few drops of a mixable solution or as it comes from the bottle.  I recommend Stanton which is readily available, but is rather expensive.  I mix 2/3 of the Stanton solution with 1/3 Novus #1 which is a vinyl and plastic polish with static removal properties.  I mix them in the Stanton bottle.  Both can be ordered on the Internet and have found deals on eBay in the past.  I have a Lazy Susan next to my turntable.  I spread several drops of the mixed solution on the record and use a static brush with the grooves to spread the solution evenly across the record.  I then use a dry static brush to wipe all excess from the record and finish off with a microfiber cloth.  This is a very important step.  Make sure that the record is completely dry prior to play.


Project CompleteThe Restoration Process:

The first thing you want to do is remove the record from the inner liner.  Throw it away! (If  you are a collector, label the liner and save in another location.)  Wipe the cover inside and out with an unscented dryer static sheet.  Set it aside.

Spray one side of the record with the cleaning solution and allow it to soak into the grooves for 15 seconds or so.  Hold the record under warm water in the sink and rotate it until the entire record is rinsed.  Although I have not found that water hurts the label, try to avoid getting it wet.  A little moisture does not seem to affect it.  Do the other side of the record and place the record on an old turntable, a Lazy Susan, or on a microfiber mat.

Spray the cleaning solution liberally on the first side of the record and with the grooves, rotate the record and slowly run the toothbrush over the entire surface paying particular attention to the lead-in.  Clean the record a few millimenters at a time until you reach the end of the record at the tail.  Make sure you clean the lead- in, tail-out and spaces between songs with a lot of attention.  These are the areas where most noise is heard.  Make several passes on the record in this manner untl you see a slight froth develop.  Use cleaning solution as needed.  You cannot overclean the records.  Do the best job possible and you will be more satisfied with the end result.  It is best to perform a pattern for cleaning, write it down and repeat it consistently every time.  It does get confusing and I have found myself cleaning the same side of the record repeatedly.  Remove the record and rinse with distilled water.  Turn the record over and repeat the process on the second side.  Once both sides are complete, rinse the entire record throughly with distilled water and place it on a microfiber mat.

Use the vacuum with a computer attachment and slowly pick up all the water as possible circling the record with the grooves.  Perform this on both sides of the record and dry with a clean microfiber cloth.  Allow to air dry.  I use a kitchen dish drainer for this purpose.  Once the record is clean, perform the above finishing process using Stanton or my above static mix.  Place the record in a poly inner liner.  Never use the old paper liner or any paper liner for that matter.  Place the record in its cover and it is preferred to place the cover in an outer poly liner for protection.  Once you play the record, observe the stylus carefully.  If dust or residue collects on first play, brush off the stylus and remove the residue.  Pick up the tone arm as many times as necessary.  I use a soft cosmetic brush for this purpose.  After the first play, treat the record with a few drops of Stanton or static mix.  Wipe down the record with a static brush and microfiber cloth.  Carefully place the record back in its inner liner and cover.  Be advised that this will not eliminate skipping.  I will eventually write an article on that aspect, but it does improve minor scratches.  Restore only unscratched LPs for best results.


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Christmas Beef Jerky

Jerky LogoOverview:

Every Christmas Season I prepare homemade beef jerky for my family and friends.  It is something I enjoy doing and rather proud of my branding. I have had offers to market it professionally, but I am not sure if I want to go through the red-tape.  Just like the radio station, I want it to remain a hobby.  There have been considerations for marketing after I had such a demand sending it out for donations last year to listeners and friends.  I have someone that will scientifically measure the ingredients and will provide nutrition labels for the product.  Rather than go in that direction, I decided to post my process for the world to experiment with.

Most people enjoy a piece of jerky occasionally from the convienience store, but many have not attempted to make their own.  It isn't hard, but there are steps in preparation and precautions that need to be taken.  Like anything else I do, I can get rather anal retentive because I like others to enjoy the fruits of my labor and get satisfaction from it.

Meat SelectionMeat Selection:

As with any food choices, taste is a matter of personal preference.  For best results you want to use the leanest meat possible.  You are not necessarily restricted to beef, but that is my personal preference.  I assemble the meat on a cutting board, liberally sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper and a small amount of cumin.  I take a sheet of wax paper and place it over the meat and compress it with a hammer to about 1/4 inch thick.  This tenderizes the meat and makes it go a lot further while decreasing the dehydration time.  Slice the flattened meat in 1 inch strips, diagonal to the grain of the meat.  Fatty meat will produce grease bubbles in the jerky and will not properly dehydrate.


Coke and soy sauce are the main ingredients of the marinade.  Do not use diet soda.  The sugar works well with the marinade and the Coke helps to tenderize it.  It is your choice of type of soy sauce to use.  Sometimes I use teriyaki flavored and sometimes original or low sodium soy sauce and sometimes the cheap stuff.  Sometimes I mix it.  Combine the soy sauce and Coke about half and half and add 1/4 cup of white vineger to the marinade to help preserve it.


Marinade at the very least overnight.  For best results, a much more tender jerky and a robust flavor, marinade for a few days.  Keep refrigerated and covered. Make sure marinade covers all of the meat and stir occasionally.


I use a dehydrator, but it is possible to dehydrate in a partially open oven on a keep warm or very low temperature setting.  Rotate the trays often.  The meat will dry at different rates and consistency is important.  You will have to judge for yourself when it is ready but you do want it completely dehydrated to prevent bacterial growth.  The white vinegar helps solve that problem as well.  Additionally, when I place the meat on the trays,  I sprinkle each individual tray with spices so that it drys into the meat.  I use Fiesta Brand Fajita Seasoning and a little Cayenne Pepper to taste.  You may also make pepper jerky with fresh ground black pepper which is common.  The seasoning yeilds a salty taste with a tang that is excellent with beer.  If you are making jerky for survival, omit the seasoning.


Remove the dehydrated jerky from the trays and place in a pan.  Stir so that all the cuts of meat are throughly mixed.  Cover with a towel or cloth while packaging in plastic bags or vacuum packing. 

Vacuum PackingPackaging:

I use a Food Saver System to package the jerky after the project is completed.  I also add a label if I am shipping to friends or family.  If you use normal plastic baggies, make sure you remove as much air as possible.  Vacuum packing extends the shelf life and it isn't unusual for it to last for years.


The finished product ready for shipment.  I generally use flat rate boxes or padded envelopes.





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