Kulchur

The Womb has a cow; hit your Genesis-spot

"When I first read it, I just couldn't even believe it. That story is the definition of bad research," says Marc Christopher, director of Miami Beach's electronica-focused internet radio station the Womb (www.thewomb.com). The story in question was a recent Herald profile of the Beach's EyeQRadio (www.EyeQRadio.com) and its founders Steve Alvin and David Chaskes, who have fashioned the latest addition to the burgeoning cyberworld of Netradio. "It was insulting enough to have the Womb's two-and-a-half-year existence ignored." But, adds Christopher, "it really bothers me that [Chaskes] gets his whole idea and concept from the Womb. He uses our bandwidth and our Internet server, milks my partner for technical information on a daily basis, he even leases office space from us! And then he pretends like we don't even exist." As for the article's writer, Dominique Collins Berta, Christopher is ready to extend her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she's simply clueless. (Calling EyeQRadio "one of the few online-only radio stations in existence," when it's actually one of thousands, supports that notion.) "Still, it's a bit odd. In her article, [Berta] just went down the list of Real Audio presets," he continues, referring to a list of preset Net stations already programmed into the Real Audio Player that is widely used for playing such streams. "She skipped right over us. She had to have seen us -- we're right in the middle of all the other stations she cites: The Womb, South Beach, Florida -- it's clearly marked. What kind of reporter is this?"

The Herald's continual slighting of DJ culture shouldn't take away from what EyeQRadio has done, however. Namely give knowledgeable local figures such as garage-rock chronicler Jeff Lemlich, noisemonger Rat Bastard, and chief Baboon Mano Pila, slots on its lineup. But it does raise a more troubling question. Factor in Womb DJs such as Beatcamp drum and bass residents Marco, Teafarmer, and grrl 13, as well as techno specialist nova, and you've got an overflow of local talent spinning everything from underground rock to the cutting edge of electronica. All of which would liven up Miami's FM dial. So why are all these DJs airing this wealth of exciting music on the backwaters of the Internet, cut off from a mass local audience? Why aren't these same DJs on noncommercial stations like the University of Miami's WVUM-FM (90.5), Florida International University's WRGP-FM (88.1), WDNA-FM (88.9), and NPR affiliate WLRN-FM (91.3)? College stations WGRP and WVUM claim that since they're university affiliated, their on-air staff should also be strictly university students. But that's a ludicrous argument. Better college stations from coast to coast have plenty of nonstudent community volunteers holding down DJ slots, the rationale being that if your station's signal reaches beyond the campus dorms, then so should your programming's scope. And rather than duplicate the fare already found on commercial radio and MTV, why not move beyond it? There are some great shows on WGRP (the Wednesday-morning gabfest springs to mind) and WVUM (Isis's beat-crazy Electric Kingdom on Monday evenings), but there's also plenty of filler. The same holds true for WDNA and WLRN, both of which have purged much of their more interesting local talent in a quest for neocommercial "professionalization." (It's worth noting the reaction engendered last week by a similar conservative-minded programming putsch at KPFA-FM, the community station in Berkeley, California. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets and more than 100 were arrested. (At press time, protests continued.)

Every weeknight at 11:00 WLRN airs two solid hours of Kenny G clones and elevator jazz, courtesy of the hopeful Casey Kasems shipped in from the Miami Lakes Technical School. It's nothing less than a nightly embarrassment to WLRN's schedule, especially considering that the same station also airs topnotch local programming such as Steve Malagodi's Saturday-night blast of free jazz as well as excellent syndicated shows like This American Life and Fresh Air. Here's an idea: Rather than dwelling on just who at WLRN is getting paid off to keep these Top 40 wannabes on in that prime-time slot, how about farming them out to an Internet radio station, and replacing them with the cream of EyeQRadio and the Womb?


Electronic rhythms aren't the only thing shaking over at the Womb these days. One of Marc Christopher's latest diversifications is the addition of a Genesis Bio-Entrainment Module, a ten-by-ten speaker-filled vibrating machine with a bed suspended inside it. Utilizing technology based on reading and reacting to a person's bioelectrical fields, the Genesis was originally intended for alternative healing and massage therapy. Christopher, however, is finding alternate uses. "We're using the Genesis to produce music in a different way," he explains. "As opposed to sitting in a studio and mixing songs in a traditional way with left and right speakers, now we'll listen and mix music with our whole bodies, as opposed to just our ears. We'll feel the music. If a track needs harder kicks or more strings, if the vocals need to be higher or lower, we'll be able to lie on this bed and let our body feel what the song needs. We can now truly make the mind/body connection."

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