Thursday, April 02, 2015

An Open Letter to Vin Scelsa On the Occassion Of His Retirement From Radio After 47 Years



Photo Courtesy of WFUV

Respect The Elders.
Embrace The New.
Encourage The Impractical and Improbable,
Without Bias.
- David Fricke

Last Saturday, Vin Scelsa announced his retirement from Sirius XM The Loft and WFUV effective May 3rd.

Vin's last shows on The Loft are Wednesdays and Thursdays noon - 2pm, ending April 30th, repeats Sundays 6-10pm. Vin's last shows on WFUV are Saturdays 8-10pm, ending May 3rd.

I just posted the following to Vin Scelas' FaceBook page:

Dear Vin - Thank you for accepting my friend request. I want to say that I was sad to hear the news that you are retiring from radio, but I know that for you it has to be as happy as it is sad. As you said yesterday, you are going out without getting fired or dropping dead, plus we get to hear a month of last shows. So let's agree that the ending is bittersweet.

I first heard Idiot's Delight back in 1988 or 1989, living north of Philadelphia (I could pull 92.3 K-Rock in on my car radio, where I listened to Howard Stern). I was on my way to Maine one Sunday morning and turning on the radio I heard this DJ on the air reading from a book. I don't remember what it was but I do recall that it was compelling. After that you played good music, really good music. The other thing I remember about that show, and this is how I know what year it was, you played "Shotgun Down the Avalanche" by Shawn Colvin, such an amazing tune (and this was before she got signed to Columbia, you played the demo). I was hooked. From then on, whenever I was in range of your signal I would listen.

Later, I was able to listen to your WFUV show online, and god bless the FUV archive, I was able to hear many great shows. I won't try to recap all the great memories here, but I will mention one amazing show. It was the one where you had Mary Lee Kortes​ as your guest, and Mary Lee's Corvette had just performed The Blood on the Tracks album in its entirety at one of the Lower East Side clubs. You and she discussed Dylan and went through the album track by track, and she either played the track live or you played the Dylan version off the record. I liked Blood on the Tracks before hearing that show, but afterwards my appreciation was both heightened and deepened.

That's the power of radio. I think there is a sacred bond that you recognize, a commitment to the music and all it can do as well as the people that make it, the culture, and the politics of the world we live in. I worked as an FM rock DJ for a time because I am similarly obsessed with music and radio. Your words can be memorable. I'll just throw in one more example.

It was a scorching hot July weekend in 2004. I had spent a wonderful three days at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Simultaneously, that same weekend, not too far from there, was the Woodstock Festival celebrating the thirty fifth anniversary of Woodstock with lots of alternative rock bands. Sunday night, driving back from Falcon Ridge, I had you on the radio and you were talking about how our generation was doomed to have to endure the anniversary of Woodstock, 9-11, etc, every five years for the rest of our lives. I couldn't tell you specifically anything else that I heard on the radio in 2004, but I remember that. The power of radio. Good radio.

So Vin, congratulations on your retirement; 47 years of great radio is quite an accomplishment. Thank you for all the great music and also all the great ideas. It is very rare that we get to thank our radio heroes at the end of their career. I held Philadelphia DJ Ed Sciaky in similar esteem but he went (unexpectedly) too early to the great after-party. So thanks again for all you have done. As The Loft's Mike Marrone​ say's "have a great rest of your life".

Vin Scelsa's Facebook

2 comments:

Charlie Ricci said...

Great letter!!! I listened to Vin on The Loft too and he really knew his music.

Anonymous said...

I started to listen to Vin as far back as 1967, as I found this station by tuning in this obscure college station FMU for Uppsala College in NJ. I had my radio under my pillow as I was suppose to be asleep. Like Bob Fass and Steve Post of WBAI, Vin would play long songs and artist that had little play anywhere else. He followed a lady Beryl Banaswrath, poor spelling of her name I sure but it was sure great listening. I have followed Vin around the dial ever since. Although he and I are far apart on many social issues, we both come from a time, when difference were good qualities and cause for having a beer and not hating one another. Long Live Free Form, thought and Music.