Clip: DJ Bob Dylan
Focus is on Dylan in satellite radio debut
May 4, 2006
BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Staff Reporter
Bob Dylan grew up under the big skies of rural Minnesota. On a clear
night through a tiny radio, he listened to American music on distant
50,000-watt stations. He embraced the rebel vibrations of Sun Records
in Memphis and was hypnotized by the tremolo guitar of Roebuck "Pops"
Staples in Mississippi. The radio was a window to a world he had to
He saw it. Now you can hear it.
"Theme Time Radio Hour With Your Host Bob Dylan" debuted Wednesday on
XM Satellite Radio (Channel 40, Deep Tracks). The hourlong show is a
collection of musical postcards from Dylan's journey through life.
Each show is themed, and Dylan, 65, introduces songs with colorful
insight. Wednesday's debut was "The Weather," and his playlist
included Muddy Waters' "Blow Wind Blow," Lord Beginner's "Jamaica
Hurricane" and the Staple Singers' "Uncloudy Day." When Dylan
introduced Slim Harpo's "Raining in My Heart," he said, "Slim wrote a
bunch of these songs with his wife, Lavelle." Then he cracked up
laughing, adding, "Boy, I wish I had a wife like that to help me write
The debut show also featured drop-in radio jingles from "WSBA -- Your
Place in the Sun!" (from Harrisburg, Pa.), ambient thunder and wind
sounds, and a shout-out from comedienne Sarah Silverman.
Next Wednesday, Dylan celebrates "Mother's Day," and expect a future
show of drinking songs.
'You don't have to shovel it'
Lee Abrams, XM chief creative programming officer, spent two years
negotiating the deal with Dylan. On his blog, he reported that Dylan
owns "something like 12 XM radios" and that one of Dylan's favorite XM
stations is Hank's Place, a station that plays old country music
against a honky-tonk backdrop with beer bottle caps busting in the
As a DJ, Dylan hams it up with his trademark bent phrasing,
introducing Muddy Waters from "the windy city of Chic-cog-oooo" and
reminding listeners how much Elvis wanted to be "Deeeeeeean" before
playing "I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine" by Dean Martin with Paul
Weston and the Dixieland Eight. He actually closed out the show this
way: "Until next week, you are all my sunshine. If you think the
summer sun is too hot, just remember at least you don't have to shovel
And, yes: You can understand Dylan on radio better than you can in concert.
The show's main challenge will be to keep the music as fascinating as
its host. Dylan, in recent years, has been slowly emerging from his
cocoon, and people latch on to what he has to say. On Wednesday, Dylan
introduced Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" by suggesting that
Hendrix was attempting to write a Curtis Mayfield song. After Dylan
finished talking, it was easy to tune out the Hendrix tune we've heard
a thousand times.
"Yes, initially people are going to focus on the novelty of Bob Dylan
talking," Abrams said Wednesday from his XM office in Washington, D.C.
"But as the show progresses, people will get used to that and focus on
the whole show."
Making less than Stern
"Theme Time Radio Hour" is produced by Eddie Gorodetsky, a longtime
player in Dylan's camp. Gorodetsky is a former writer for "Saturday
Night Live" and appeared in Dylan's 2003 cut-and-paste film "Masked
and Anonymous." Gorodetsky secures the old radio jingles and air
Abrams, 54, grew up on Chicago radio in suburban Homewood-Flossmoor.
"The shows are produced more like a movie," he said, "with pieces
being put together instead of sitting them in a studio and saying,
'Hey Bob, you've got an hour to do your show.' I know he had a DAT
player when he was in New Orleans and Memphis [last week]. I'm sure he
recorded people. It may have been some guy in a diner or another
artist. He's collecting pieces of sound that fit into the themes. He
might do some shows completely live. It is all up to him."
Abrams would not discuss terms of the multiyear deal. He did say Dylan
is being paid less than Howard Stern on Sirius ($500 million for a
"Theme Time Radio Hour With Your Host Bob Dylan" is encored at 5 p.m.
Friday and 7 p.m. Sunday on Deep Tracks, XM 40. The show also appears
at 7 p.m. Monday, 4 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. and 10
a.m. Monday on The Village, XM 15. Complete track lists from each show
are posted at www.xmradio .com/bobdylan. Fans can also e-mail
questions and music requests to Bob Dylan through