Fresh Air Archives

Presenting A
Fresh Air Retrospective

FRESH AIR was a late-night radio program which aired on WKSU during the seventies. The student-produced program had its historical roots in the sixties and by the early seventies had evolved into a structured format with a rock and roll basis. What was originally called "Underground Rock" was eventually called "Progressive Rock" or "Alternative Rock" and could be one of the ways to describe Fresh Air in the early 70's. As additional rock and roll styles appeared, Fresh air evolved past Progressive music alone and into a Progressive format. By the late 70's, programmers were incorporating Jazz Rock Fusion, New Wave, New Age, Folk, World Music, Avant-Guard Jazz, Psychedelic sounds, Rock in Opposition, German techno, minimalist, 20th century classical, and Electronic sounds into the mosaic that became Fresh Air.

Rock's most popular music was often incorporated in its early days, but there was a reverence and desire to discover and present lesser known groups, artists, and musical styles. The tendency in programming was to play less of a group once they became well-known. Since each night was programmed by that night's host, Fresh Air often had a slightly different feel and sound from one night to the next. Generally, announcing was less important than the quality, selection, and flow of the music. The various styles of music were selected to complement each other, and the smooth segue between pieces was the programmer's golden ring. The musical journey, movement from one style of music to another, and one mood to the next, was the ultimate goal. This is not to say that Fresh Air was a totally free-form format. There was an unwritten understanding of the "format", though hard to verbalize, which was executed easily by the staff.

As WKSU matured as an NPR station, most of the many block formats offered in the seventies began to take notice of the developing public radio programming principles. The Fresh Air staff learned and incorporated many audience building techniques and its following grew and stabilized. Features such as: The Import Album Premier, Domestic Album Premier, Industrial Wasteland ( interview program), and the featured Artist Of The Week, established Fresh Air in local ratings books. In the early eighties, WKSU eliminated several of the block formats, including Fresh Air and others, to provide a more consistent, and less varied public radio service for Northeastern Ohio.


Anonymous said...

make music using samples here is my website:

Ted said...

Thanks so much for your efforts here.

Wow-I miss Fresh Air. We used to take a boombox out into a park near our home and enjoy the program under the stars. On nights of elipses and comets-Fresh Air would feature Tangerine Dream,Jean Michel Jarre,Klaus Schulze,and other "space rock" artists-creating a perfect soundtrack to the light show in the sky.


John said...

These are awesome...I worked on the Fresh Air Magazine when I was at KSU, and got to know the djs...they had an amazing knowledge of all types of music.
Great people, cool music that mixed rock,space,jazz,etc...and who can forget Ken Nordine.
Thanks for making these available.

Anonymous said...

Love this Fresh Air --

Prog Rock LIves!!! I never knew King Crimson had a song called "Cat Food." Silly lads.

Love these station ID's. Thanks for posting these.
So refreshing.


Anonymous said...

The Archives presented here are not a "best of", but simply recordings by listeners who have provided them to us to offer here for your enjoyment. If you have any recordings of the program that you would like to share, feel free to contact us! There are more recordings coming to be released! Thanks for the comments!

Anonymous said...

I've got the Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine feature about Fresh Air,if anyone is interested.Pix of Lois & Jeff from back in the day.

Who oversees this blog? Please post more of the airchecks!

Anonymous said...

Listened to the first show & it's awesome. However, the archivist cut out the dj & all the song listings for what was played. Very frustrating. In fact, if each episode lacks announcements as to what was played I'll have to skip'em. I want to know what I've just listened to (i'm not into djless, satellite-sounding radio).

Anonymous said...

Most announcements are intact, however we are presenting here recordings made by listeners, and are limited to what they saved of the program. The first 8 disks were started when we were first given tapes by a listener who edited the original broadcast recordings. Most later disks contain complete recordings, often limited only by cassette length. The shows were usually carefully pieced together in a framework, an requests were incorporated into them, and modified the flow. Stay tuned, more to come, the shows were not created by a computer driven playlist! We are currently working on identifying all the tracks, which is somtimes near impossible due to the breadth and depth of the free-form format.

Anonymous said...

While I was a student at West Virginia University in Morgantown (circa 1977-1981), for a time I shared a sixth-floor apartment with three other guys. The apartment faced west toward Ohio, and on clear, cold nights we were able to pick up WKSU pretty well. This was at a time when a student-run radio station at WVU was still on the drawing board. And this is when we discovered and became fans of "Fresh Air," a show that was perfect to listen to when stoned, and ESPECIALLY good to listen to when we were tripping our brains out (Think: KEN NORDINE). I became a fan of Joy Division and Tangerine Dream because of "Fresh Air." How depressing that WKSU eventually "evolved" into just another bland, corporate NPR affiliate. Don't get me wrong, I ADORE NPR, but a school with a legacy like Kent State's really ought to have a more progressive student-run radio station. I was ASTONISHED to stumble across this archive of "Fresh Air" programs. THANK YOU.

Kim Wilson said...

No radio like it. It was unique and I miss you all so much. My recodings aer lost and destroyed. There was one especially unique cut that I cant find anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Unique recordings were par for the course on Fresh Air...rebuilding some of these shows required extensive searching to locate many very rare and obscure recordings...not to mention the local electronic and progressive bands that played in the area live for us or gave us tapes to broadcast.

I have just put the finishing touches on Fresh Air DISK there is much more to be showcased than is actually on the website at the moment!

Russ said...

Not sure if it's mentioned in any blog post, or if the audio is already posted, but I found a Paul Ciminero page with a June 22, 1978 set, here:

Also not sure if there are more mp3s which Paul has posted there.

Anonymous said...

Paul posts a few old shows from his Fresh Air days on his Transmusicairwaves podcast, while the rest of his Transmusic posts could be considered a modern adaptation from his Fresh Air roots!

Randall Shoemaker said...

I am writing this comment on August 7, 2015. I haven't visited this blog in well over a year and am disappointed to find that most of the audio links are now broken.

As I scrolled through the above comments, I see that the moderator: "anonymous," mentioned more than once that there would be more material to come(such as Disk 331). I truly hope that such is still the case! I proudly have Disks 1-9, 20-29, 41-50, and 61-89 in my archive and would love to fill in the missing slots some time.