Friday, June 12, 2009

The Fistful of Soundtracks station schedule--both past and present

This illustration by AFOS listener Matthew Laznicka is 99 percent kickass. The 1 percent that's not so kickass is the misspelling of 'Fistful.'Here's a detailed guide to the current Fistful of Soundtracks station schedule for listeners who aren't sure when certain programming blocks air or what kind of music is streamed during each block. I've also included descriptions of series I used to air on AFOS to show you the programming history of the station, which I launched in 2002. I pieced together parts of this post from program synopses I wrote for the now-defunct site, and I've updated those passages.

Current programming blocks

JANUARY 16, 2011 UPDATE: "Assorted Fistful" "AFOS Prime"

During this block, which occupies most of the day's programming, the channel streams random film and TV score cues. At noon on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, "Assorted Fistful" "AFOS Prime" switches to "Soda and Pie" mode and focuses on '80s tracks from the library.

"Chai Noon"

Every Tuesday and Thursday at noon and every early Wednesday and early Friday at 4am, AFOS airs an hour-long block of assorted tracks from Bollywood movies like the Amitabh Bachchan classic Don and the Dhoom films. None of the other film music radio stations on the Web are doing something like this, which is pretty damn absurd. How can they not recognize the moviemaking capital of the world?

In a 2006 blog post that's no longer online, I talked about why I created this block:
"Chai Noon" came about after I glanced at ImaginAsian Radio's program lineup one day and noticed it consisted mostly of bhangra and Bollywood shows. Then it hit me: why aren't any of the film music radio stations on the Web streaming any Bollywood music shows or blocks like ImaginAsian and the desi radio stations do? And why didn't I have a Bollywood block on my station's lineup?

It was something I felt my station needed, even though I'm no expert on Bollywood soundtracks, and I've never sat through an entire Bollywood musical. (I wish DirecTV carried AZN Television, which my older brother is able to receive, thanks to his Berkeley cable company. When I was at my bruh's place one time, I caught an AZN broadcast of Fiza. I wasn't able to watch the whole flick, but the parts I saw were interesting. Only in Bollywood could you have song-and-dance numbers during a politically charged drama about terrorism.)

That Asha Bhosle song that's better known to your 15-year-old sister as the Black Eyed Peas' "Don't Phunk with My Heart" will be on the "Chai Noon" playlist. That Hindi tune that got Smithers shakin' at the end of a recent Simpsons ep will be there too (it's from Johny Mera Naam). And of course, I didn't forget "Chaiya Chaiya" from both Dil Se and Inside Man.
FEBRUARY 27, 2010 UPDATE: "Chai Noon" also airs Wednesday at noon and early Thursday at 4am.

JANUARY 1, 2011 UPDATE: "New Cue Revue"

This hour-long block streams selections from new releases (or albums that aren't exactly new but are new to the "Assorted Fistful" "AFOS Prime" playlist). It airs Wednesdays at 10-11am and 4-5pm and Fridays at 11am-noon.

JANUARY 1, 2011 UPDATE: "The F Zone" "Rock Box"

Existing songs from movies and shows like GoodFellas, The Wire, The Boondocks, Better Luck Tomorrow and Pineapple Express are streamed during this daytime shuffle-mode block that's in the style of "Chai Noon" and "Soda and Pie." It airs Mondays at 4am, 9am and 3pm, Wednesdays at noon and Fridays at 5am, 9am and 3pm.

The old header for's Soda and Pie page.
"Soda and Pie"

This block of '80s movie and TV themes airs at noon on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Yeah, the '80s had a lot to answer for: mullets, jhericurls, Full House, crappy Scott Baio sitcoms, Long Duk Dong and Reaganomics. But the decade also gave us Akira, Public Enemy, The Young Ones and Phoebe Cates in a red bikini. "Soda and Pie" focuses on the things about the '80s that don't make you cringe.

The "Soda and Pie" playlist includes selections from the scores to the original Miami Vice and '80s cult flicks like Akira, Big Trouble in Little China and Repo Man, as well as theme songs from movies like Wild Style, Purple Rain, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and At Close Range. Also part of the playlist are covers of '80s themes, like the Dan Band's foul-mouthed "Flashdance/Fame" medley, Swedish musician Peter Benisch's remake of "Crockett's Theme" and some of the selections from the '80s tribute album High School Reunion.

JANUARY 10, 2012 UPDATE: "The Street" "Beat Box"

Score music with funk, jazz, synth or hip-hop sounds dominates "Beat Box" at 6am and noon on Mondays, 6am and 1pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 7am and 1pm on Fridays.

MAY 23, 2011 UPDATE: "Rome, Italian Style"

This one-hour block streams both film score-inspired music like Italian composer Daniele Luppi's instrumentals from the albums Rome and An Italian Story and covers of '60s and '70s film and TV themes by musicians ranging from Count Basie to Mike Patton. The mission statement of the block is basically "how musicians outside the film and TV music world interpret film and TV music." "Rome, Italian Style" airs Mondays through Thursdays at 11am.

Discontinued series

The Empire Strikes Back (2004)

Remember a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when Star Wars was cool--before the franchise JTS'd? Remember those days when not even a horrific Christmas TV special or the introduction of an annoyingly cutesy race of Tagalog-speaking teddy-bear aliens were enough to taint the franchise? Listeners who didn't tune out AFOS when the music would briefly stop for a half-hour or an hour of people talking got the chance to relive that pre-CGI era of the franchise when they heard the three Star Wars radio series on AFOS' schedule in 2004.

I briefly tried experimenting with streaming radio dramas during the schedule to diversify the programming. Some listeners told me they liked hearing the Star Wars series, while others found them boring or simply turned off the station.

In 1981, KUSC-FM's Star Wars adaptation was so popular with NPR listeners that two years later, the same cast and crew reunited for a 10-episode adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back. Joining the Mark Hamill-led cast were John Lithgow as Yoda and Billy Dee Williams, who reprised his role as Lando Calrissian. A six-ep adaptation of Return of the Jedi from Highbridge Audio--sans Hamill and Williams--followed in 1996.

A Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series (2003-08)

I go into detail here and here about why I discontinued the format. Though I stopped production, reruns will continue to air on AFOS Wednesdays at 10am and 3pm.

While guesting on Lux Radio Theatre, the Absent-Minded Professor tries to come up with a way to give the difficult-to-work-with Bette Davis a nice kick in the ass that will send her bouncing up and down all over the theater like a bitchy basketball.Lux Radio Theatre (2004)

Reruns of Lux Radio briefly aired on AFOS in the series' original CBS radio time slot, Mondays at 9pm.

Can't get enough of your favorite movie? You probably catch it on cable every time it airs or perhaps you frequently play your DVD or Blu-ray copy of it. In the '30s, '40s and '50s, film lovers didn't have the luxuries of HBO, TCM, Netflix, the local revival house or that guy at the long line for The Return of the King who thought he was being helpful to everyone else by breaking into a dramatic one-man recap of the previous two Lord of the Rings movies but just made the entire line want to strangle him. Back in the day, if fans wanted to relive their favorite flick, their only options were to either pay to see it again and again in the theater or to save their nickels and catch the Lux Radio adaptation of it on Monday night.

Those of you who grew up with the TV serving as teacher, mother and secret lover probably know very little about the Peabody-winning Lux Radio, which was one of old-timey radio's most popular programs for most of its run from 1934 to 1955. Sponsored by Lux soap, this weekly one-hour series had studio-era Hollywood's biggest stars perform radio play versions of their own movies in front of a live theater audience, with an original score provided by a full orchestra. Everything from It Happened One Night to the George Pal version of The War of the Worlds got the Lux Radio treatment.

Lux Radio was the brainchild of execs from the J. Walter Thompson ad agency and its client Lever Brothers, the makers of Lux soap. The series didn't really take off until its third season, when it switched networks (from NBC's Blue Network to CBS) and moved from its original New York homebase to Hollywood, and J. Walter Thompson snagged Cecil B. DeMille to be Lux Radio's new host. During the nine seasons DeMille served as host, Lux Radio made the Hollywood director a radio star.

Does this series hold up well? Part of it does--it's interesting to hear these condensed screenplays performed in a live theater setting (you get to hear the audience laugh) and with many of the original stars reprising their roles. The parts of Lux Radio that don't hold up as well are the cheesy "interviews" with the stars that took place during the program's intermission and epilogue. They were obviously scripted, and you can sometimes hear the stars giggle in reaction to the atrocious fake banter that the scriptwriters supplied them with. That kind of cringeworthy banter has been kept alive by Dick Clark blooper specials in the '80s and '90s and by lame award shows today.

Though some find the series to be on the stilted side (read radio historian Elizabeth McLeod's critique "Lux Misrepresents Hollywood? Or, Why Radio Movie Adaptations Aren't Such a Good Idea"), Lux Radio is an intriguing audio snapshot of studio-era Hollywood.

Morning Becomes Dyspeptic (2004-08)

Each 15-to-20-minute ep of this series collected clips from stand-up comedy albums.

From a 2006 synopsis of the series:
Sick of unfunny morning zoo crew humor? As an alternative, the Fistful of Soundtracks channel presents Morning Becomes Dyspeptic, an uncensored 15-minute series featuring the sharpest and angriest stand-up comedy to ever hit the stage. Hear clips of comics like Patton Oswalt, Chris Rock, Lewis Black, George Carlin and Richard Pryor.

After a nine-month hiatus, Morning Becomes Dyspeptic returns to its 8am time slot on the Fistful channel schedule on Monday, October 9 with a new announcer and new episodes featuring clips from the latest stand-up CDs (Russell Peters's Outsourced, Brian Posehn's Nerd Rage), the usual suspects (Feelin' Kinda Patton, an old Morning Becomes Dyspeptic favorite) and classics that have never been played before on the program (Rodney Dangerfield's No Respect).

Morning Becomes Dyspeptic will also now air at 1am (9am for British listeners).

If morning shows were like breakfast meals, The Today Show would be Corn Flakes, CNN's American Morning would be an Egg McMuffin and The Howard Stern Show would be a big honkin', gas-causin' breakfast burrito. As for Morning Becomes Dyspeptic... it's like that bottle of brandy you dump into your bowl of cereal.
The Retro Lunch Show (2004-06)

Eric Potts hosted this syndicated '80s oldies series.

One nice thing about the radio version of Return of the Jedi is that you can imagine Leia as not looking totally like the then-coked-up Carrie Fisher. Without the visuals, I like to imagine Leia as looking more like Berlin singer and one-time Penthouse Pet Terri Nunn, who was a frontrunner for the role before Fisher was cast and would have been a hotter Leia than Fisher. Plus, Nunn's blond looks would have made her more believable as Luke's sister.Return of the Jedi (2004)

Recorded in 1996, the last of the three Star Wars radio adaptations replaced an unavailable Hamill with Joshua Farnon and an apparently busy Billy Dee with Arye Gross. Huh? The Jewiest of then-thirtysomething Jewish actors playing the blackest of black sci-fi heroes? That's like if Woody Allen played Shaft. Whoever picked Gross was clearly on crack that day.

Sexual Chocolate (2004-06)

I hosted this hour-long series about existing songs from movies and shows, which I named after the washed-up R&B band in Coming to America. In 2006, I ditched the hour-long format and relaunched Sexual Chocolate as the "The F Zone." Listener Ben Erwin told me he missed the Sexual Chocolate title, and I explained to him that I ditched it not because I received any complaints about it but because I grew tired of it:
Sexual Chocolate is a name better suited for a hooker or a washed-up R&B band, not a radio station block...

Actually, nobody gave me any negative feedback about the title Sexual Chocolate, which was my homage to Coming to America. I just grew to dislike it as a title for a block of pop songs. Plus, everyone and their mother has used Sexual Chocolate to name something (like their trivia contest team or speedboat--Dennis Rodman calls his boat Sexual Chocolate).
Soda and Pie (2003)

I also hosted this five-part series about alt-rock, R&B and rap from the '80s. In 2005, I resurrected the Soda and Pie title--a reference to a line from the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" video--for the weekend block of '80s film music. Ep titles from this series included "Do You Like Parties?," "Dogs and Cats Living Together" and "I Want My Two Dollars!"

Star Wars (2004)

Produced by KUSC, the station at George Lucas' alma mater USC, this 13-ep adaptation of the 1977 blockbuster first aired on NPR in 1981. Lucas sold the radio rights to KUSC for the earth-shattering sum of one dollar.

Only two actors from the original cast--Hamill and Anthony "C3PO" Daniels--reprised their roles. Perry King (Riptide, The Day After Tomorrow) provided the voice of Han Solo, and Brock Peters, best known for To Kill a Mockingbird and the Star Trek films, voiced Darth Vader. The eps were scored with the original cues from John Williams' score. The late sci-fi author Brian Daley took on the painstaking task of adapting Lucas' screenplay for radio, expanding a two-hour story into nearly five hours' worth of episodes. He added scenes of dialogue and character development that weren't in the film, giving Star Wars fans further glimpses into Luke's life on Tatooine and Princess Leia's efforts to protect Alderaan from the Empire.

Daley also often inserted into the scripts the cheesiest kind of radio drama dialogue, in which characters would unconvincingly describe at length the action they were seeing (Luke: "You took your light saber and cut off my arm! Owwww! And now both my arm and saber are falling down the shaft!"). It's funny that the Star Wars radio series employed an announcer, and Daley never thought of using him to describe the action instead of having the characters do it in such an unintentionally funny way. Radio Luke, Radio Han and Radio Leia sound like those literal versions of old music videos on YouTube that always crack me up.

The casts of the radio versions of the first three Star Wars flicks featured several actors who were unknowns when they recorded their bit parts: David Alan Grier, David Paymer, Adam Arkin, Sam McMurray, Meshach Taylor, David "Sledge Hammer" Rasche, Ian Gomez and his wife Nia Vardalos. The man who directed all three productions was John Madden--not the ex-Oakland Raiders coach/Monday Night Football commentator, but the British theater, TV and movie director who helmed Shakespeare in Love.

The same year the Return of the Jedi radio series hit the airwaves, Lucas notoriously went all Nip/Tuck-y on the first three Star Wars movies. Here's hoping he never lays a finger on the radio dramas.

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