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Miss KWOD? Go "Off-Air" with Capital Public Radio

If you're only familiar with NPR from Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon discussing Alec Baldwin's "Schweddy Balls" on Saturday Night Live, or you think NPR only plays classical music and jazz, you may be surprised to learn that one of the best replacements for the now-gone (but not forgotten) KWOD 106.5 is a program presented by Sacramento's local NPR affiliate, Capital Public Radio, entitled "Off Air."

As the title suggests, Off Air is an online-only show, which has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, you can't listen to it in your car, but all of the show's webcasts are always available for listening online, which means you can sit at your computer and listen to a playlist of great music, lasting an hour or more, for free with no commercials. The show is hosted by Nick Brunner, a young DJ from Illinois, who speaks with the clear enunciation and confident cadence that is typical at NPR, best exemplified by Ky Ryssdal, in my opinion; it may seem affected, even annoying at first, but this style of speaking will grow on you and become comforting and strong.

Off Air focuses on "up and coming national and local talent as well as established, critically acclaimed artists," which usually means alternative rock, although there are smatterings of electronica, dance, country and hip-hop as well (just like KWOD!). In the webcasts I've listed to, Off-Air has played music by bands as diverse as Dinosaur Jr., the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, YACHT, Peaches, Jukebox the Ghost and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. Off Air also frequently features in-studio guests, such as Starf**ker and Boy in Static. Whether asking insightful questions of his guests, discussing the merits of mashups with volunteer assistant Meg, delivering interesting information about the music he's playing or notifying listeners of upcoming events and shows, Brunner always comes off as informed and intelligent, but like many NPR personalities he bucks the Schweddy Balls stereotype by being funny and irreverent, too. The off-air format of Off Air allows Brunner to ignore FCC regulations regarding obscenity, for example, and on one webcast Brunner listed the insulting names fans of alternative rock could be called, such as "nerd," "dweeb" and "spaz," but then ended with an audio sample where a guy who sounds like Luis Guzman says, "a drunk, chain-smoking transvestite, passed out on a couch in Sacramento." He's like a less obnoxious Rubin! Sigh. I miss Rubin . . .

All in all, Off Air is a great show and definitely worth a listen. New shows are posted online every Thursday at 12am.

posted Wednesday, September 9, 2009 by hardpressed jess


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