DeFlip Side #56: Aural Fixation


Welcome everybody. I’m Christopher DeFilippis and this is DeFlip Side.

For almost five years now, I’ve been providing an aural window into my many esoteric obsessions. DeFlip Side listeners—the five or six of you out there—are well acquainted, for example, with my mania for books and the written word, my quest for ever more specialized and obscure publishing houses which are really the only game in town when it comes to finding the best new authors.

Christmas is another biggie with me, especially the story of Santa Claus, both historical and mythical. I’ve probably told you more things about the man in red than you ever thought existed or even cared to know.

And all of that is really just a symptom of my obsession with the myths and legends and bits of folklore that have conspired to create the traditions and holidays that we celebrate so fervently and unquestioningly, however bizarre they may be.

But oddly enough, I’ve never really talked about one of my more mundane obsessions—which is especially ironic, since it’s the medium by which the aforementioned five or six of you listeners have come to know me.

In a word, radio.

In this age of DVDs, high-speed Internet hookups and video on demand, radio still remains my electronic medium of choice. I adore it. I cut my journalistic teeth working in radio. I even collect old radios. The first history book I ever willingly read was about the pioneers who created radio.

Sadly, most people remain wholly ignorant of the wealth and diversity of programming to be found on the airwaves; but if you take the time to look past the empty political chat shows and centrally-formatted conglomerate station groups, you’ll be amazed and pleasantly surprised at what you find.

The obvious and most accessible example is, of course, National Public Radio, which remains the last bastion of credible broadcast journalism in a media landscape inundated with hyperbolic cable news and smug, self-satisfied personalities. But news is just the tip of the iceberg. This American Life, A Prairie Home Companion, Performance Today, Selected Shorts. All of these excellent programs can be found on public radio. And public radio isn’t the only game in town.

Local stations feature kick-ass shows. There are of course, bigger local players, chiefly WNYC out of New York City, which produces Sound Check, The Jonathan Schwartz Show and Radio Lab.

Radio Lab is, HANDS DOWN, the best radio show currently on air (sorry Howard). Every episode is not just theater of the mind—it’s an audio tour-de-force. And we can’t forget low-watt local stations. Long Islanders are treated to some great exclusive broadcasts, like American Hit Radio out of Nassau Community College and The Make Believe Ballroom on WSHR, Sachem’s High School Radio Station of all places.

But this still isn’t enough for me. Now I’m exploring the newest audio frontier, satellite radio. I became a Sirius subscriber in January and while I admit that Howard Stern had a lot to do with it, the step was inevitable. And boy was it worth it. I can now listen to whatever kind of radio I feel like at any time of the day. The upshot of this is that more times than not I’m using my state-of-the-art-miracle-of-modern-technology-digital-radio to listen to old radio shows like Suspense, X-Minus One and Jack Benny.

When you come down to it, for my time and money, there is no better entertainment then well-produced and informative radio programming.

But of course you agree. Why else would you be listening to Destinies? You knew I’d get around to it eventually. Here we are, celebrating 23 years of being Long Island’s Voice of Science Fiction. And the show meets all of my exacting standards for great radio: it features a fun and diverse mix of programming, it’s impeccably produced and I usually learn something while listening. I was a Destinies fan long before Howard made me part of the Destinies family; and even if he kicked me off the show tomorrow, I’d still be an avid listener.

Where else are you going to hear a conversation between H.G. Wells and Orson Welles? Or Rene Auberjonois reading Poul Anderson’s “The Last of the Deliverers?” And I for one can’t wait for upcoming interviews with the likes of Star Trek’s George Takei and the late Christopher Reeve. Or new editions of DeFlip Side.

With never a rerun in decades, Destinies always gives you something new to look forward to on Friday night. And for avid radio listeners like me, that’s like having money in the bank. Here’s to many more years of healthy returns.

Happy anniversary, Destinies!