Morn in the USA

New Jersey has, like, totally whatever you’re into

On WDHA 105.5, New Jersey's premier rock station, the DJ took a break from playing "Still Unbroken" by Lynyrd Skynyrd and "Gimme Back My Bullets" by Lynyrd Skynyrd to interview Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd. "Congratulations on the new album, God and Guns, that came out yesterday," says the morning show presenter Jim Monaghan. "The title has gotten some interesting reaction." "Hey - you know, man," interrupts Rickey, "like, we say God, but we don't necessarily mean a religious thing . . . Totally whatever you're into."

Rickey was even more than usually keen not to be seen as either pro-God or godist. (Godism of any description can have absolutely no place in today's post-Ed King, non-judgemental Skynogonies.) There followed a segment in which people called in with their concerns about Bruce Springsteen. ("Man, I'm not going to enjoy freezing my butt off listening to him play the entire Born in the USA album twice. Is he gonna mix up his playlist this time?") Now back to Jim, whose lovely, easy voice evokes the image of my dream early-morning DJ: a person eating salted croutons from the bag and repeatedly winding his index finger around his ear in the sign language for "crazy" through the studio window, in an attempt to charm and possibly ball the intern.

“Hey, man," he says to Rickey, "I've just seen a very interesting review on a website that's called the Kuwait Times dot net."

“Really?" says Rickey, totally stumped, his Southern accent clambering up a few rungs at the mention of somewhere truly Abroad. "That's, like, unbelievable . . ."

It's not often you hear mention of Kuwait on the peerless WDHA, but certainly more than you might on 1010 WINS, New York's rolling news station, whose tagline, "Give us 20 minutes and we'll give you the world", ought to be amended to ". . . give you three streets off Lexington". "THE WORLD THIS MINUTE!" it screams, to the sound of a typewriter busy in the background, like in the scene from Bugsy Malone where all the foreign reporters are crushed into phone booths, delivering copy moments before they get splurged.

The reporters on WINS speak so fast that it's sometimes impossible to know if they are talking about Maya Angelou going into hospital or Charles Wang selling the Islanders or what, rather calling to mind that charmingly disconnected acquaintance who speaks to you while mostly gazing off into a space beyond your left shoulder. "Taptaptaptaptaptaptap it's 61 degrees in Central Park taptaptaptaptaptap a Broadway producer is suing her husband for describing her as 'arm candy' taptaptaptaptap if you love salami, try a sample of Genoa Deluso salami at the Deluso Deli. Deluso. Try some today. Next report coming up at 9.40!"

WDHA 105.5

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 12 October 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Barack W Bush