Miami commercial radio is . . . well, less than thrilling. Actually, it’s awful. Some of the individual songs played on the pop stations are okay. But, taken as a whole, the playlists on Miami commercial radio stations are tightly confined to a focus-group tested collection of safe, mostly upbeat songs, and on-air hosts have virtually no discretion to play other records they love. Oh sure, there’s WVUM and WDNA, and they’re both fantastic and they both deserve huge, adoring fan-bases. But they both occupy a special place on the dial, where — largely because of their mission (college and public radio, respectively) — they don’t really compete with commercial stations. Miami has, for years, needed a freeform station, where the on-air talent or management plays records they love, from any genre, region, or era, regardless of whether the record is a recent hit or is backed by a promotional-push.
Enter Shake 108, a freeform radio station located at 107.9 on South Florida’s local FM dial. Here, hosts and/or the station owners play the records they love. And that, in turn, means you’ll hear a hodgepodge of exciting but overlooked music, rubbing elbows with more familiar tunes. Just over the last 20 minutes, the station played an eclectic mix of songs, ranging from Jamaican 80s act Ini Kamoze, to a house tune from Escort, to a wierd and wonderful song from Trombone Shortly, to . . . Well, now they’re playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But that’s the magic of freeform radio. I guess. The station even encourages listeners to recommend songs to add to the playlist. I took them up on their offer, and emailed them a batch of songs I thought would be good to hear on the radio. And you know what? The station answered, and said they’d likely add a bunch of those songs.
So let’s hear it for overlooked, under-appreciated, otherworldly music from all genres and eras. Like, say, Mohammed Raffi’s horn-drenched Bollywood tune, Jaan Pehechaan Ho, which memorably soundtracked the opening scene of the 2001 movie, Ghost World.
Or Someone to Fulfill My Needs, the soulful 1966 single by The Moovers, which was released on Miami’s own Deep City record label. The vocal harmonies here are really something.
Or something modern and melancholy, like 2013’s Rival Dealer, from one of the best acts of our era, Burial.
Welcome to South Florida, Shake 108. You’re part of an exciting new cultural landscape here. I hope you’ll be around for a long while, marching to the beat of your own drum, playing music we won’t hear anywhere else on the dial.