WTF is SCR?

State Controlled Radio (SCR) is a weekly internet-based radio program that premiered on the world wide web on Valentine’s Day of 2006 [02.14.06].

“There is a format on radio that I have been wanting to hear my entire life” says the series host and producer Jon Kanis “but it never quite managed to materialize.  So I thought, sod this, better to light a candle then to curse the darkness as it were and I decided that in lieu of waiting for some one else to produce the program that I longed to hear, that I would have to be the one to initiate the undertaking.”

To date Kanis has produced over two hundred & thirty programs since its inception.  Although the idea had been with Kanis since his childhood, it took Rod George of BZoO Worldwide Radio [www.bzoo.org] to suggest that Kanis produce a radio show for his homegrown web outlet.

“It was around the first of the year in 2006 when RG called me up and said that he had listened to some of my music and looked over my background as a producer and a musical archivist and thought that I would be an excellent candidate for producing a weekly radio program.  I thought about it for several days and I finally said yes, even though I was daunted by the prospect at first.  Frightened really. Originally RG wanted me to concentrate exclusively on San Diego based music, but I felt that that was too limiting a format.  Instead, what I wanted to focus on was the idea of promoting EXCELLENCE in music, no matter what corner of the globe that it happened to originate…I guess I see my role primarily as a combination of entertainer, scholar, librarian and impresario.  I also feel that capturing people’s oral histories is extremely important and vital to the understanding of where an artist is coming from with their art and that led me to interviewing over thirty different musicians & artists over the past five years.  And after amassing over 100,000 songs in my archive I felt that I practically had an obligation to share it with anyone who had the passion and the curiosity to want to know more about this culture.  Plus, there are few things in life that are more fun for me than spinning records at a fabulous party and that’s what I really want SCR to be at the end of the day – the soundtrack to a fabulous party.”

Eventually a format emerged for SCR (“after about 50 or so programs” says Kanis) where the sum of many influences shaped the tone and content of what SCR has become.

“I guess it was around episode number 80, after doing the show for about a year and a half when I did a program honoring the sixth anniversary of the events of 9/11.  And I sat down for the very first time and wrote out my introductions and what I wanted to say.  Because up ’till that point I pretty much spoke off the top of my head and improvised my commentary, but with the 9/11 show I decided that I wanted my ideas to be more thought out and I wanted to choose my words carefully around that subject.  The ideas at play are too important to be frivolous.  So I thought it was time to select my commentary more carefully and with greater intention and I have been working that way ever since.”

It turns out that the show that Kanis ended up producing is not dissimilar from the radio programs that he grew up listening to during the mid-to-late 1970s when Kanis was growing up in the Washington D.C./Northern Virginia area.  “Until I reached my eleventh birthday Top 40 radio was real important.  As a kid you buy singles, not albums.  But all that changed in 1975 when I started exploring the radio dial and hearing the amazing programs that were coming out of album oriented radio – like Jim Ladd’s Innerview or the King Biscuit Flower Hour – and the free form programming of college radio, particularly WHFS in Bethesda, Maryland.  Their motto was ‘One nation under ground.’  At the time it wasn’t unusual for a station to play ten songs in a row without a commercial break and to hear ten different kinds of music during a particular set.  Hell, even Top 40 used to be like that too – just look at the old Billboard charts from the 1960s and ’70s – but all that changed around the time that Ronald Reagan became president and radio station ownership became deregulated to the point where the airwaves ended up getting monopolized by a very few conglomerates, which in turn homogenized much of the country’s radio programming and making stale something that I once found to be a very vital part of life.”

Well, these days with all the various media at your disposal, not to mention the infinite programming available on cable television and the internet, there are more entertainment options available than ever.  Even so, Kanis is resolute about continuing on his chosen path.

“I have yet to make a dime on this enterprise and I couldn’t begin to tell you where any of this activity is leading but I maintain a rather Zen approach to life and I am just doing my best to ‘enjoy the ride’ as the expression goes and not to worry so much about the destination.”

In mid-August of 2010 SCR took a four-month hiatus from production after four and a half years of weekly activity.  However, the radio silence ends this Sunday on January 23rd when State Controlled Radio reappears on the San Diego based City Heights Open Media [www.openbroadcast.info].  SCR will air seven nights a week from 9 PM till midnight PST.

“I figured it was time to rev the machine back up after a healthy break during the fall.  SCR will now be heard seven nights a week, with the current plan to re-broadcast select programs six nights out of the week and a brand new show every seven days.  We’re dubbing the old programs ‘encore presentations’ and it will be great because if you happened to miss any of the shows that ran between 2006 and 2010, now you will get a second chance to check them out.  And I really hope that you will.”

NOTE: City Heights Open Media’s website went dark in June of 2011; State Controlled Radio subsequently halted production. All SCR programs from 2006 through 2011 are archived and hyperlinks to all of the programs can be found HERE.