I remember when we used to call Pirate Radio and request songs to add to our mixed tapes. I particularly liked Paradise City and any other song by Guns and Roses. I also had a bit of a weakness for gangsta rap, but they played mostly metal. We were resourceful. We were too young to own the adult themed albums, so instead we requested the songs and recorded them when the smarmy DJ finally put the song on air. All it required was patience – and a little luck. The station played a Guns song every single hour. The entire album “Appetite for Destruction” was played at some point during the day. My voice must have been so high, “will you play ‘Paradise City’ paaawweeeeease.” Sure kid, we will play it every 18th song long we always do. And when we heard the song, we thought it was ours. And it was, because right on cue we’d hit record – you know, press the play button and record button down at the same time.
We’d sit in my older sister’s room and use a maroon phone to make our requests. It was one of those modern deals with buttons instead of a rotary dial that you received free with a subscription to Sports Illustrated. Now her TV, that had a dial and then another dial. You had to turn to the channel you wanted and then fine tune the receiver using the second larger dial just to get the picture right. We probably had it turned to Mork and Mindy or Alf with the volume down when we sat there, recording our mixed tapes. Who cared if Easy E had bleeps over Boyz N’ Tha Hood? I’d request that one too, but probably fall asleep before it played (Pirate Radio didn’t have commercials in the beginning).
Some would say that the art of the mixed tape is long gone. I felt that way, until this moment. The mixed tape was a story we all told. We shared not only our favorite songs, but we told the world how we felt. I suppose I was in paradise city, sitting there in my sister’s room requesting songs and waiting for them to air before I pressed record. I’d ask that DJ so politely and then I’d let the alpine play bumping new songs by GNR. Anyhow, we do the same thing these days but through different mediums. We share photos, post to facebook, and e-mail links and forwards. Oh yea, some of us blog, too. It’s really not that different – just a bit more efficient without the voice over.