Way back in 1999, as the producer of Fatcat & Fishface, I entered our first CD ‘HORRIBLE SONGS FOR CHILDREN’ in the USA-based Children’s Music Web awards. Several months later we were notified that we were winners of Best New Artist for Older Children. The organisers said, “We thought New Zealand was a conservative place. Boy, did we learn something!”
When I asked them which stations or kids’ shows in the States might be interested in our offbeat style of music they suggested Greasy Kid Stuff.
Greasy Kid Stuff was the weekly children’s show on cool independent New York/New Jersey station WFMU. Fatcat & Fishface’s song ‘GIMME’ (an ode to over-sugared children’s parties) soon became the regular birthday call on the show:
“You’re younger than you’ll be tomorrow
You’re older than you were yesterday
We hope your mother’s beauteous
You came out of her uterus
Happy Happy Happy Birthday”
‘GIMME’ also featured on a compilation CD from the show called ‘More Songs from Inside the Radio’, alongside They Might Be Giants, Bent Bolt and the Nuts, and the guy who did the music for Spongebob Squarepants.
Belinda Miller and Hova Najarian have been producing and hosting Greasy Kid Stuff since 1995. When they started they didn’t like much of the music being made specifically for kids, so just played stuff they thought kids might like. That included lots of Jonathan Richman, Spike Jones, yodeling, accordions, punk rock covers of ‘Sesame Street’ songs, singing dogs, and maybe the one kid-friendly song on an otherwise grownup indie-rock record.
In 2004, Belinda and Hova moved to Portland, Oregon and took Greasy Kid Stuff with them. Now they do their show on Portland commercial station, KNRK.
Here are their pointers for someone thinking of starting their own children’s radio show: Don’t worry too much about what other people are doing. Don’t start a show to try to make money. Don’t play something just because a publicist sends it to you. Don’t play anything you yourself wouldn’t listen to if you didn’t have kids. Do spread the love!
Thanks to Greasy Kid Stuff for their support!!!!!
How to Listen: click here.
Greasy Kid Stuff talks with Fatcat and Fishface
1. Why is your kids’ radio show different to others?
Hmmm… it’s probably older than most, I guess. Not sure how different it is from shows going now though – we don’t get a chance to listen to many others. When we started doing “Greasy Kid Stuff,” we were trying to make it fit in among the regular freeform shows on WFMU, which is this amazing radio station in New Jersey. We wanted to do a freeform show for kids, but we didn’t actually like much of the music being made for kids. So we just played stuff we thought kids might like. Lots of Jonathan Richman, Spike Jones, yodelling, accordians, punk rock covers of “Sesame Street” songs, singing dogs, oldies…. We’d look for the one kid-friendly song on an otherwise grownup indie-rock record. But I think other folks are probably doing the same thing now. And the quality of music being made for kids has improved significantly, though we still don’t play too much of it on our show.
2. Could you give a brief history of the show?
We started in 1995 on WFMU. We had no previous radio experience; we were just big fans of the station (still are!), and we volunteered there a lot, and eventually we ended up doing a show. That’s kind of how it worked back then. The show got to be pretty popular, and we ended up as kind of a Saturday morning fixture there. Then we had a kid! Our daughter was born in 2003 — while “Greasy Kid Stuff” was on the air, believe it or not! (We’d asked a couple of friends to fill in for us, and we called into our own show from the hospital room to let them know the news.) In 2004, we decided we needed to be closer to family, so we moved back west to Portland, Oregon. For a couple years, we still did “Greasy Kid Stuff” on WFMU, sending a live feed back to New Jersey. But it was a hassle on both ends, and we missed having a connection to our local community, so we started doing our show on a Portland station, KNRK, in 2006. It’s a little different now, because it’s a commercial station, and the show’s only an hour long instead of two. But we still don’t get paid anything, and we still play whatever we want!
3. What made you start the show, and what makes you continue?
Well, we started because it was fun! And, for the most part it still is. It’s a little harder to do with a kid in the mix, but that’s also added a new dimension to the show. We love that our daughter is growing up on the radio.
4. How have you handled the issue of what’s ‘suitable’ for children?
Ha, you of all people should ask! As you know, we play the Fatcat & Fishface song “Gimme” with some regularity … and I don’t know how it is in New Zealand, but some folks over here are quite squeamish about hearing the word “uterus” in a song! You can’t always tell what’s going to offend someone though, so we don’t try too hard. One parent got upset when we played a song about trains, because their kid was afraid of trains. What can you do about that? We don’t really have any rules, just kind of use our own judgment. We’re pretty kidlike ourselves, so it’s not that tough. Our daughter’s probably affected our outlook too. She can’t believe we ever played the Tiger Lilies or “Wicked Annabella” by the Kinks! She’s sure that we’ve traumatized some little kid somewhere. (Sorry if we did!)
5. To someone thinking of starting their own radio show for kids, what are some pointers you would give them?
Don’t worry too much about what other people are doing. Don’t start a show to try to make money. Don’t play something just because a publicist sends it to you. Don’t play anything you yourself wouldn’t listen to if you didn’t have kids. Do spread the love!
6. How can people access your show, and are there any other kids’ radio shows (in the USA…or the world) people should check out?
How to Listen: http://greasykidstuff.wordpress.com/how-to-listen/
Greasy Kid Stuff airs on 94.7 fm in Portland, OR, and streams live Saturday mornings 8 (PST) 11 (EST), click listen live 94/7
WFMU has TEN years of Greasy Kid Stuff archives , TWO hour non-commercial shows in realplayer format!
Oh, we know there are lots of great kid shows out there, but we don’t actually listen to much kids radio. We like “The Kids Are Alright” on WMLB in Atlanta. And “Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child” is sort of in the same vein. But really we don’t know – you tell us!
WFMU is a listener-supported, non-commercial radio station headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States, broadcasting at 91.1 (and at 90.1 as WMFU) MHz FM, presenting a free-form format. It is the longest-running free-form radio station in the U.S.