Sunday, January 27, 2013

"You switch me on."

It's all true, fellow travellers.  Thank you for playing with the knobs.  I do appreciate it.  The miracle of the wireless.  "Turn on, tune in, drop trousers."  And for those on the Short Wave... 
A throwback to the Golden Age of Radio is the Radio Premium.  The Artifact of Loyal Listenership.  Many elements came together in the Kosmic Banger that was Space Pirate Radio: Short Wave and Ham Radio.  Radio Astronomy.  Sixties Pirate Stations.  Even Axis Sally & Tokyo Rose.  But classic radio drama of the Thirties and Forties had an allure that needed the Psychic Dial Up!  Get ready Space Pirate Radio Astronomers...for YOUR SECRET MESSAGE!!!
 
My Father got me interested in old radio with his stories of collecting premiums from his favourite shows.  He mentioned Jack Armstrong, Little Orphan Annie and Tom Mix.  But the one that stayed deep in my subconscious was Captain Midnight.  Sponsored by Skelly Oil Company (an odd choice for underage listeners), the show's fans were offered a number of collectibles to its Flight Patrol.  Secret codes and rings could only inspire one to have...a SPACE PIRATE RADIO DECODER RING.
 
Jack Armstrong had a Dragon's Eye Ring.  The Shadow had a Blue Coal Ring (to mimic his classic Red Opal).  Why not Space Pirate Radio?  Well, the answer was simple: BECAUSE IT'S IMPOSSIBLE!
 
A Space Pirate Radio Decoder Ring was like many of the other SPR ideas for artifacts.  Pipe Dreams and Slippers.  In the same vein, yours truly considered Space Pirate Radio Wing Badges, medals and lapel ornaments to denote length of listenership.  Passports stamped annually.  Comic books and magazines were worked on.  T-shirts got made, but not as many as were planned.  CDs, books and artworks.  I suggested to bookmaker friends that we create a plastic case binding that contained quicksilver...liquid mercury.  Mad as a Hatter?  Mata Hari?
 
Came very close to releasing the Green Neon Motel Vacation Souvenir Pack.  A memento of your stay.  ("Travel considerations for Space Pirate Radio furnished by the Green Neon Motel.  The only True Surrealist Motel, located in the heart, or rather, bladder of the San Industrial Valley.  1949 Linoleum Blvd., in the City of Appliances, California.")  The pack included custom soaps, postcards and complimentary packets of Anxiety Coffee.
 
And the Decoder Ring?  Well, it finally got made.  Not as a ring for the finger, but as a flat instrument for sending and translating cryptic messages to listeners.  Said a few rude things about corporate owners, general managers and program directors in code under the electronic airwaves.
 
Still called it the Space Pirate Radio Secret Decoder Ring and gave them away on the air.  My wife asked for one, before we had met and married.  "Not what I expected," she wrote to me.  I'm sure she still feels the same after over 20 years.
 
Happy 39th Anniversary.
 
Oscar B. Ciao, for now.