Farewell, Starman: Fans reflect on Bowie’s life, legacy


Man, what a shock to hear Monday morning that David Bowie left this mortal coil and returned to the mothership, just a couple of days after releasing a final album called Blackstar on his birthday.

I wouldn’t claim to be a Bowie fanatic who knows every song and nuance, but I’ve been a fan and admirer for the past 15 years or so – especially enjoying his 2000s output like Reality and The Next Day. Also, like most music fans, I had a period where I was obsessed with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

In short order, I assembled an all-star panel for The Signal to discuss Bowie’s life and legacy for Tuesday night’s show:
– Eric Coker (Inside BU editor and local music writer)
Mary Donnelly (SUNY Broome faculty member and unofficial “Professor of Power Pop”)
Kirk Madsen (local artist and former stage/road manager for many pop/rock acts)
– Frank Mischke (adjunct Binghamton University professor and Bowie fan)
– “Doc” David Rasey (local actor and writer)
There also was a prerecorded contribution from Randy McStine (guitarist and Endicott native now living in New York City)

Turned out to be a really good show, even though we only scratched the surface of his catalog. (We played nothing from the 2000s, for instance, except for “Lazarus” from Blackstar.) Maybe we’ll reassemble during the summer to reminisce about other Bowie songs we love.

ARCHIVE INTERVIEW: George Gruel (former Warren Zevon road manager)


To me, Warren Zevon was one of the great underrated singer/songwriters in rock music. Most people know “Werewolves of London” or (if you’re lucky) “Lawyers, Guns and Money” – both awesome songs, to be sure, but merely a fraction of what he recorded during his four decades in music. He was a storyteller/poet with a sardonic wit and a romantic bent, whether writing from his own life or imagining characters in little four-minute plays set to music.

George Gruel, Zevon’s former road manager, saw behind the scenes during the height of fame for rock’s “Excitable Boy” in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In this interview (which originally aired July 31, 2012, on WHRW Binghamton’s The Signal), George chatted about his book Lawyers, Guns & Photos: Photographs and Tales of My Adventures with Warren Zevon (Big Gorilla Books). Lots of great stories here – including how he got a shoutout from Zevon on the live album Stand in the Fire.

Sadly, Zevon left us in September 2003 at age 56, after a widely publicized battle with lung cancer that included an emotional final appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. I still miss that guy a lot, and wonder what he’d be writing about today.

Thanks again to George for the interview.

INTERVIEW: Matthew Jacobs and Vanessa Yuille at L.I. Who


At right, Matthew Jacobs (writer/co-producer of the 1996 “Doctor Who” TV movie with Paul McGann) interviews an audience member at LI Who about “Doctor Who Am I,” a documentary about American fandom to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the film.

I’m thrilled that my first interview posted here on Radio Free Signal is a short chat with Matthew Jacobs (writer/co-producer of the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie with Paul McGann) and filmmaker Vanessa Yuille discuss the upcoming documentary Doctor Who Am I at L.I. Who.

I’ve been a fan of the Doctor Who TVM (as the cool kids call it) and especially the Doctor at the center of it pretty much from the moment it aired. The documentary will not only look at American fandom but also dig into when fans feel they are like the Doctor in their own lives – which is a very cool approach.

The film’s Indiegogo campaign has been going well – the initial goal has been raised and it’s now looking to hit stretch goals to fund film festival showings and other ways to get it out to more fans. Check out the page, see the cool donor perks and throw in some money if you can. (Donations are tax-deductible, too.)

I’ll be sharing more interviews from November’s awesome soon. My faithful interview companion Adrienne also has photos from the interviews themselves, and I’ll post those as well.

ADDED: Here’s a shot of Vanessa and Matthew during the interview, along with the back of my head.


Vanessa Yuille and Matthew Jacobs at LI Who. (Photo by Adrienne Wise)

Welcome to Radio Free Signal!

635762770664091796-ChrisKocher1 My name is Chris Kocher. I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years, and I’ve covered the entertainment scene for the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y., since 2005. I sometimes write about events in Elmira and (every once in a while) in Ithaca.

In the fall of 2011, I fulfilled a long-standing desire to host my own show on WHRW, Binghamton University’s free-format radio station. The Signal – a mix of music and interviews – airs at 7 p.m. Eastern every Tuesday. (During the semester, it’s a 90-minute show; between semesters or during the summer, it’s three hours.)

With this website, I’m finally going to put online some of the best interviews from the archives, which include local, national and international musicians and other performers. Hope you enjoy.