Forget about jazz or classical: nowadays if you enjoy any form of acoustic music, or want to hear something that no one alive has witnessed, the radio can seem like a pretty lonely place. That’s not to disparage any of the music likely to be found on the dial. It’s just getting harder not to find it. Which is just one reason why finding a station like WYAR of Yarmouth, Maine is so rewarding.
Flipping channels while visiting nearby Portland this weekend, I stumbled across this radio station at the far end of the dial, 88.3 (incidentally the same number as the premier jazz station of the tri-state area and maybe the world, WBGO). WYAR plays American popular music of the twenties, thirties and forties. In just a few miles it gifted everything from Bing Crosby crooning a ballad over generic but beautiful strings, to Irish folk songs crackling over the surface of a 78, to Artie Shaw and Louis Jordan by way of (what I think was) a very young Patti Page. The station’s Facebook page mentions a variety of other artists, including Cannonball Adderly, Rosemary Clooney and the recently deceased Dave Brubeck.
Is WYAR a “jazz” station? Are they “classic pop?” “Oldies?” Based on a few of the swing numbers spinning, it’s anything but “Easy Listening.” WYAR broadcasts under the banner of the “Heritage Radio Society,” a name which expresses devotion to the past and enjoyment in the present.
As far as I can tell, they do not stream over the Internet, which means they’re just out there on the highway, waiting to be found. There’s something incredibly satisfying about that fact. Keep listening.