Jack Isquith

Jack

Jack spends his time driving the implosion of old and new media, and contemplating Homer's assertion that "Rock reached perfection in 1974". Homer Simpson, that is. He is the SVP of Strategic Development and Content Programming for Slacker.

Slacker Remembers David Bowie

david-bowie-c2a9-1984-greg-gorman2-940x1175Turn and face the strange       
Ch-ch-changes

– David Bowie, CHANGES

And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

– David Bowie, SPACE ODDITY

We could steal time, just for one day
We can be heroes, forever and ever

-David Bowie, HEROES

David Bowie was an adventurer, and an iconoclast, and a leader. Bowie was never predictable, never boring, and always challenged expectations and conventional thinking. He was a star, a big star, but he wasn’t for everyone. Bowie continually embraced the weird, the strange, the kooks. We understand that energy, that sensibility to do things differently. For many of us at Slacker, Bowie was one of our biggest heroes.

So today, and for the month of January, while the news of his untimely passing is still a fresh wound for us, we honor his memory the best way we know how — by putting David Bowie’s music and his story front and center:

  • David Bowie DNA  traces the tip of the complex iceberg that is the David Bowie story.  Hosted by Jennifer White, we tell the story of Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, Major Tom, Thomas Jerome Newton et all.  You will hear Bowie’s influences, contemporaries and followers like Little Richard, The Beatles, Al Green, The Velvet Underground, Kurt Cobain, and LCD Soundsystem. If you listen closely, we think you might just hear your personal story here too.
  • David Bowie Top 33 counts up Bowie’s greatest songs. These are the Bowie songs that you have listened to, shared, and “hearted” the most. From classics like Changes, Fame and Let’s Dance to some surprises from his many collaborations and era’s, these songs paint a picture of an eclectic and inspired career.
  • Finally, our Album Of The Week is Blackstar, which was just released on Friday January 8th, David Bowie’s 69th birthday. Bowie’s final album can be heard on many levels. Musically, it explores his love for texture, emotional singing, and the kind of inspired instrumentation that blends pop, jazz and funk into a otherworldly mix. Lyrically, it hauntingly speaks for itself, from the opening lines of Lazarus — “Look up here, I’m in heaven” to the final moments of I Cant Give Everything Away — “Seeing more and feeling less, saying no but meaning yes, that’s the message that I sent, I can’t give everything away.

For now, we have to deal with Bowie’s passing. We turn and face the strange. Bowie was our star, and our stars do indeed look very different today. But if you listen to the music, you’ll see why David Bowie is still our hero.

Slacker Radio Presents The Beatles

Beatles1If you want to see what pure joy looks like, ask a music fan about the first time they heard The Beatles. It’s not easy to capture “The Beatles Look” in words, but you know it when you see it. A dreamy flush passes over their faces yet they look more awake, more alive than before. Hearing The Beatles for the first time changed their world—life was never quite the same. The Beatles made everything better.

“For me, The Beatles are proof of the existence of God.” – Rick Rubin, music producer, Beatles fan.

If you are madly in love, and find life wonderful, The Beatles amplify your happiness. Listen to John’s raw exuberant vocal on “Twist and Shout”. If you are down and desolate, The Beatles are a shoulder to cry on. Listen to Paul and John’s melancholy harmonies on top of the strings that drive “Eleanor Rigby”. For many of us, listening to The Beatles, is like listening to our hearts.

Slacker loves The Beatles. We are thrilled to have 17 albums from The Beatles join our library of millions of songs and albums. And to celebrate the arrival of The Beatles in our on-demand library, Slacker is doing what we do best — creating a suite of lovingly hosted and curated radio stations that all celebrate the greatest band in music history.

Starting today, you will find 5 brand new hand-crafted Slacker radio stations for your Beatles listening pleasure. Each station is filled with the kind of  context and cultural understanding that only a human-powered service can provide. Redbeard hosts The Beatles A-Z, alphabetically walking you through the bands journey, moving from Liverpool to Hamburg to America as The Beatles conquered the world. The Beatles DNA shines a light on the bands biggest influences, collaborators, and the cream of the artists who The Beatles have influenced over the last 50 years. Slacker’s listeners have ranked The Beatles Top 133 songs, and we play them back here in order. The Beatles Covered offers a selection of the best Beatles cover versions ever, and last but not least, we round out our tribute to The Beatles by featuring Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, arguably Rock’s greatest album ever, as Slacker’s Album Of The Week, available for you to listen to as many times as you like.

One sweet dream came true today. 17 of the greatest albums ever made have finally come to streaming. And 5 brand new, lovingly hosted and curated staions have been born on Slacker. We are thrilled to share this music, and this magic, with you.

Happy Crimble indeed, with love from Slacker and The Beatles, to you.

Listen Up. We’re Bringing Music Curation Back.

When I was a kid, pre-Internet, I had a love/hate relationship with the radio.
wnew radioI grew up in New York and in my teens WNEW-FM was my constant companion. WNEW positioned itself as the station “Where Rock Lives.”  Every song seemed perfectly picked, placed, and contextualized — it was music curation at its finest. Listening as a preteen, I discovered tons of new music, or at least artists who were new to me. Rock really did seem to live on that station. Its DJs were true hosts, turning song selection and the music experience into an art form I clung to every word that Jonathan Schwartz, Vin Scelsa, and Scott Muni uttered. After all, in a time before message boards or social media, these people were my friends –intimate friends who turned me on to Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, and Bob Dylan.

After a while, I became frustrated with WNEW-FM. I had discovered a whole new world, “Where Rock Lives,” and WNEW wasn’t playing very much of it anymore. I heard an occasional Ramones song, but where were the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Jam, and Wire? WNEW was too busy playing Foreigner, Styx, and Journey.  Yuck, yuck, and yuck. (Ironically, I now have a custom-made Slacker station called The Bands I Hated in High School Kinda Sound Good to Me Now–but I’m getting ahead of myself here.)

Eventually I broke up with WNEW. The station had betrayed me.  There was only so much Foreigner I could take. It certainly was no longer the place where my rock lived. I abandoned the station and, as a result, I abandoned the radio.

Years later – Napster came onto the scene, which changed the music listening experience forever. All the world’s music was accessible with a click of a mouse. I loved Napster at first but soon grew uncomfortable with both its bad song results and lack of artist support.

Through the 2000s I drifted from service to service online. Rhapsody, Imeem, iTunes, eMusic…I tried them all. But somehow, despite the cool music platform that the Web had become, something was missing. Some days I found treasures, but most days it felt a bit cold, clinical Listening to music on these services was mostly clean and efficient, but it wasn’t all that entertaining, and it certainly wasn’t magical. These were algorithms and applications, not good friends and radio hosts, crafting my music experiences. The human element was missing.

For the first time in years, I found myself missing the old WNEW-FM.

Then, in 2011, I found Slacker.

Slacker LogoSlacker would have seemed like an impossible dream to the eighteen-year-old me. It worked everywhere. On my computer, on my phone, in my car. Best of all is the curation. At Slacker, I have more than 200 pre-programmed stations to choose from. Sure, there are the expected genre stations — Today’s Hits, New Hip Hop, Country, and an excellent slate of Alternative stations. But Slacker also digs really deep with Eclectic Rock, Great Songs You ForgotOld School R&B, and Grunge: 20 Years Later. These are thematic stations that terrestrial radio could never dream of.

With Slacker, I can access the biggest hits, or reinvent the concept of formats, on a daily basis. Only people who live and breathe music every day could come up with stations like Dive Bar Jukebox, Broken Heart Radio, or The 50 Most Embarrassing Facebook Songs. No algorithm in the world can put a music mix together like these stations.

With Slacker, I am able to follow hosts like Mat Bates and Scott Riggs, whose expert curation routinely blows me away.

I love Scott’s Indie Hits mix and I find Mat’s New Music First stations invaluable.  I really couldn’t live without The New 40, the Slacker station that plays the best 40 songs regardless of genre, each and every week.

Yet as good at turning me on to music as Mat and Scott are, I love being able to overrule them, to have more power than the DJ, to take a good station and make it better. I can fine-tune any station by tweaking the music mix based on related artists, song popularity, and song age. Fine-tune is an extremely cool feature. I can add sports from ESPN, news from ABC, and talk from American Public Media.

At Slacker, I have total control of a music library of more than 13 million songs. I can lean in and make custom playlists. I can lean back by simply typing a band or song name into the Search box and just let the music play.  For a guy who spent days as a kid making mixed tapes, this seems unbelievably fast, efficient, and wondrous.

Most important, at Slacker I feel like the human spirit of the old WNEW FM, and every great radio station from years past, lives and thrives, but within a new and innovative technological construct. Experts like Scott & Mat make superb stations – they are bringing music curation back. The technology platform makes everything easier, better and more customizable.

So go ahead, poke around, play a station, or enter a song. It’s up to you; the jigsaw jazz and get-fresh flow are here right now. Slacker is where it’s at–all you have to do is Listen Up.