10 Questions with ... Craig Bailey
July 21, 2015
1. When did you get into radio and can you give us your radio history?
I started in college radio in Autumn 1985 at Ithaca College's 106-VIC. Throughout college I moved back home summers and did fill-in work for vacationing jocks on WSNO/WORK in Barre, VT. After graduating college in '89, I spent five years doing copywriting, operations and various air shifts at WDEV in Waterbury, VT. Then I took a job at WEXP, which was a new Triple A station with studios in Burlington, VT. I did overnights there for a couple months before getting moved to evenings. But the station went dark a year later, and that was the last time I worked in radio full-time.
I also spent about 14 years doing part-time air work at Vermont Public Radio in Colchester.
2. What radio stations and personalities did you listen to when you were growing up?
The cool kids definitely listened to CHOM out of Montreal. I remember a jock there named Too Tall, who might still be there! Closer to home, I liked WNCS in Montpelier, and listened to a lot of WSKI. I remember WSKI's Bruce Stebbins made an impression on me, and the station's morning man, Bob Bannon, was a local legend.
3. You obviously have an affinity for Pink Floyd. Despite being one of rock's iconic bands, what was your first initiation to the band and what captivated you about them?
A friend passed me a duped cassette copy of his "Dark Side of the Moon" LP in December '87. So much for the dangers of illegal taping. That one dupe's probably made Floyd quite a bit of royalties over the past 26 years. Before that, I'd heard of the band, but, honestly, like a lot of people, I thought Pink Floyd was a person. Embarrassing to admit now, but I think I've more than made up for my ignorance through hard work.
It's always been the mystery surrounding the band that's attracted me. They're enigmatic -- from their sound to their look. It plays with your head. I'm often drawn to things I don't entirely understand, and I'll admit I'm still occasionally a little puzzled by it all. But that's what makes it fun. That said, if the music wasn't brilliant -- and it is -- none of that would matter.
4. Can you give us the specifics of how the Floydian Slip radio show originated?
A year after my friend slipped me that cassette, a guy on 106-VIC who hosted "The Pink Floyd Hour" was giving up his show, so I took it over and renamed it "Floydian Slip." My first show was on 106-VIC in January '89.
After that I did it while I was at WEXP, and then for WCPV in Burlington, VT., for almost 14 years before I went out on my own and syndicated in '09.
5. For those who haven't heard the show, give us some highlights of special features and music you feature on the show on a weekly basis?
It's an hour of Pink Floyd. We play everything -- and I mean everything. Go as deep as we can go. Solo stuff, too, from all the members. The focus is on the music. No matter how much I'd like to think otherwise, that's why people tune in, I suspect. But I like to feel I bring some insights to the table each week, too.
Most shows, we'll throw in a "Floydian Slip-Up," which is a track not by Floyd but somehow connected. The more creative the connection, the better. Our best one might've been "The Universal" by Small Faces. Recorded in the backyard of Steve Marriott, I theorize the dog you hear barking in the background is likely the same one on Floyd's "Seamus" from "Meddle."
We have a handful of theme shows we do each year, too: "Lost for Words," all instrumental; "In the Flesh," all live recordings; "Surrogate Bands," all covers; "Careful with That Axe," all spooky tracks for Halloween; and some others.
6. How much old Pink Floyd interview segments do you run on Floydian Slip? Are there any special moments from these interviews you can share with us?
People are surprised to know I've only had one member of the band join me on the show: drummer Nick Mason -- and he was on last November. I'm not bragging, and it's not for lack of trying. Fingers are crossed for Roger Waters this summer, and David Gilmour has a solo album coming out in September, so there might be an opportunity there. I've had a number of people close to the band join me: sleeve designers Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey "Po" Powell, producer/engineer Andy Jackson, "Wall" illustrator Gerald Scarfe, and "Atom Heart Mother" collaborator Ron Geesin. All these interviews are archived on floydianslip.com, but I've never re-run them on the show.
7. Now let's talk about Floyd's music specifically. What is your favorite Pink Floyd album and why?
That's a tough one -- like picking your favorite child. If you press me, I'd have to say "The Dark Side of the Moon." The songwriting, musicianship and production are about as good as they get, and the themes are universal and timeless. There's a reason it's still on the Billboard chart 40+ years later.
8. You're going to be hosting a radio special around the re-issue of Roger Waters' 1992 album "Amused To Death." Can you give us some specifics about what you'll be featuring on the show?
The show's timed to coincide with the Surround Sound reissue of Roger's '92 album. I had a chance to hear the 5.1 remix in a studio setting when producer James Guthrie gave a playback at a Floyd academic conference at Princeton last April. Amazing sound.
So the show's devoted to the album, with lots of insight from Roger on what it's all about. It's a challenging album, so hearing what the guy who dreamed it up explain what it's all about is priceless. I think the show includes selections from all 14 tracks.
9. After doing your radio show on Rock stations around the country, what's your take on current Rock music and Rock radio in general?
I wish I could say something that'd surprise you, but I'll say what's true and what people probably expect: I don't listen to a lot of current music, Rock or otherwise. I think there was a time when artists needed to be able to write, play and sing; and image and marketing played a supporting role. Today that seems turned on its head. There are surely modern bands that are the real deal, but I find there's a nearly limitless pool of stuff to dig in to from 30 to 40 years ago that better suits by tastes.
As far as Rock radio is concerned, I'd say its biggest liability is the same as most other radio formats: a fear of being different. I get it: The bottom line needs to be satisfied, and to do that you need to appeal to the greatest common denominator. It's just unfortunate that so many stations are unwilling to go very far out on a limb, when there are listeners hungry for something different. That probably sounds contrary coming from someone who produces a show devoted to a single band, and those statements would make me a hypocrite if all I played was "Money" and "Another Brick in the Wall." What I'm saying is, dig a little deeper. Hit us with something we don't expect every now and then. Make listening to the radio a little bit of an adventure again.
10. Finally, if you were stuck on a desert island, and you only had five Pink Floyd songs to listen to, what would they be and why?
Again, picking the favorite child thing! Okay, how about:
- "Time" ("The Dark Side of the Moon" ) -- Brilliant theme and lyrics, and an excellent percussion introduction.
- "Us and Them" ("The Dark Side of the Moon" ) -- Haunting melody, and huge dynamics. Really moving.
- "Echoes" ("Meddle" ) -- I could pick this one on length alone: 23 minutes. You really get your money's worth out of it, and it contains a number of movements so it's really like several tunes in one.
- "Childhood's End" ("Obscured by Clouds" ) -- Great tune, unfamiliar to many. David's vocals are great, and the lyrics are deep, almost apocalyptic. Love the drumming, too.
- "Have a Cigar" ("Wish You Were Here" ) -- It's got a funky groove to it, which is unusual for Floyd. And you need a little funk.