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Last month Lou Reed became the latest rock icon to foray onto satellite radio when he launched “New York Shuffle,” a weekly free-form show on Sirius co-hosted by producer Hal Willner (who also collaborated on Reed’s new concert doc, Berlin). We spoke to Reed about the show, which broadcasts an eclectic mix of music from Animal Collective to Ornette Coleman to Solomon Burke to Peaches, and — less successfully — his financial stake in the struggling company.
How did this show come into being? Did Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin wine and dine you?
I’ve always wanted to do a radio show, and I was talking with Hal Willner about doing the kind of radio show that once was here in New York where the guys played whatever they really liked. You know, I did it when I was in college. I liked being a D.J. I think the radio is amazing — I learned to play from the radio. The Sound of the Hound, Magnificent Montague, Alan Freed, people like that.
What kind of audience do you envision when you’re doing a show? The commuter from Staten Island?
You’re joking, right?
Look, they have thousands of people who do things like that. We’re just there playing music that we think is really great. I mean, I was just listening to some theremin music that Moog puts out on a DVD sampler and I’ve got to play this, it’s so astonishingly beautiful. I was listening to another group the other day called the Books that was pretty good. And then Willner played this amazing old Solomon Burke track. Ah, fantastic. Wouldn’t it be great if there were like hundreds of people playing it like that, turning you on to some really good shit?
Your show is called the “New York Shuffle.” As music has been migrating from local stores and radio stations to satellite radio and the Internet, do you think there’s still such a thing as a New York sound?
I think these days it’s more of a Brooklyn sound. It’s not out of New York anymore; it’s all out of Brooklyn. I go out there to listen to music. A lot of the stuff we played, when we checked out where it came from, it was from Brooklyn.
The music industry is going through a lot of turmoil, obviously, with labels closing and record stores shutting down all over the country. What role do you think radio plays today?
Stations should pay attention to what people really want to listen to and not have these restrictive playlists. That’s what I think. I’m not usually the one someone turns to about advice on how to make money.
Sirius’s impending merger with XM is anticipated to boost earnings. Do you own any stock in the company?
What are you, a fucking asshole? I’m here telling you the truth about music and you want to know if I have stock in the fucking radio? You fucking piece of shit. What did I do to deserve that?
Moving on. You’ve got a film out, you’ve got your radio show, you’ve got a new book of photography coming up — is there a new album in the works?
No. Nothing I feel like talking about. Good-bye.
—Andrew M. Goldstein
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