We’re on a roll here today at Radio Free Brooklyn — it’s a two-fer-Tuesday with another installment of #RFBatHome — our ongoing series featuring shows that, as the host of one of my all-time favorite TV shows famously said, “Make it Work!” from home! And now, (Part 7) with Jon Reid of “Race to the Bottom.” Hope youse all have a sweet sunny week!
Your friendly redheaded editorial director,
P.S.: If that was you I saw in Prospect Park yesterday looking fierce while you social distanced on the fly wearing that fresh new mask… keep on keepin’ on so we can hit that reset button before too long!
Hello Radio Free Brooklyn! I’m Jon Reid from “Race to the Bottom,” an irreverent and absurdist program about culture, politics and music. I make mashups and sound collages, and recommend and / or critique books, music, and movies. I also play fake ads I come up with and thank those fictitious sponsors and businesses for their support. The show has been going on a little over than a year, since March 2019. It used to be live, but since the quarantine began (and with RFB’s studios shut down for the interim), I’ve been doing the show from my apartment in Long Island City, Queens.
I’ve loved radio all my life — from classic rock to NPR, from geeking out over indie / college stations to hate listening to right-wing talk radio. I started doing “Race to the Bottom” back when I was living in Asheville, NC. But after being in NYC for six years, I decided it was time to bring it back. I just needed the right place, and all the research and asking around that I did led me to RFB.
Before COVID-19, “Race to the Bottom” had frequent guests and I did lots of phone interviews and comedy bits with friends who called in. I don’t have the capacity to do the show live from home, so doing it prerecorded has been a process. I have a Scarlett Focusrite microphone preamp that I hook into my laptop to do my monologues. I do my interviews over Zoom, and my editing and sound collages on Audacity.
It’s hard to make the show feel spontaneous now that it’s edited, but little by little, I’ve figured out ways to breathe new life into it. I still try to have frequent guests, but it’s hard to set up the pretense of a random caller appearing to give me trouble. At first, I wanted to discuss our new reality with the pandemic, but lately I’m seeing the show as an escape from all those same conversations about testing, predictions and who is sick or suffering a death in their family. I’ve also veered away from political talk to a large extent — I just can’t stand talking about Omelet Bar (our name for the President.)
That said, I think “Race to the Bottom” has become a bit more sincere since the quarantine. Doing the show remotely has become a comforting routine and way to stay in touch with friends, family and fans of the show. It’s at a place that I’m proud of, but I will definitely look forward to getting back in the studio when this is over. I think that community radio offers a great deal of connection and routine that we are all craving now, and I love being part of RFB, especially in these trying times.
Tune in to “Race to the Bottom,” Saturdays at 10:00 a.m.