12:16 PM

(1) Comments

Jake Einstein RIP

Mister Nizz

, , ,

Farewell, Jake

The recent 9-11 anniversary was made all the more poignant by the passing of a truly great local resident, and the lack of attention it received in the wake of our annual hand-wringing over 9-11 vexed me beyond belief. Washington DC owes much of its offbeat musical heritage to one man, Mr. Jake Einstein. He was a media mogul (of sorts) that owned WHFS radio (102.3 on the dial in the old days, 99.1 after that, now a thing of blessed memory). Commercial WHFS filled the void between college radio and the tepid playlists of radio in the 80s. If WHFS had a playlist, it wasn't extremely obvious. You couldn't predict the next song that would come over the airwaves. The existence of a legendary hardcore punk scene in DC owes much to WHFS and its eccentric programming. My favorite DJs were the extremely off-beat Weasel (real name: Jonathan Gilbert, with his high pitched, radio disaster voice and simply encyclopaedic knowledge of anything to do with music) and Damien (Jake's son, who's speech impediment, a souvenier of a disasterous car accident, would have put paid to any radio career.. except at WHFS).

Eventually WHFS of old reputation (102.3) got sold, and the whole kit and caboodle moved down the dial to 99.1 MHz. That station brought the first Lollapalooza festival to the DC area). The new owners paid homage to "alternative" for several years, and even had some decent djs on the air now and then (I recall lending my treasured copy of the Shaggs to one of them at a party, and sure enough, she put MY PAL FOOT FOOT on the air!). Never got it back, dammit. Alas, commercial radio is a hard road to hoe, and eventually the new owners dropped the alternative format, going to mainstream rock for several years before switching to a Spanish-language format nearly two years ago. The great years are gone for good.

Some of the staff and the record library moved over to Jake Einstein's new station, WRNR in Annapolis. It is as close to a duplicate of the old WHFS as is possible. Damian is still on the air. Annapolis is too far away for me to reach. Weasel never left radio, and is now on the air with the supsiciously similar 94.7 The Globe in D.C. I'll take my musical quirkiness where I can get it.

I did work in D.C. radio for a while, right out of college. My first job was writing for a syndicated program that had played on HFS in the old days. Jake had sold the station long before, but he was still very active in the radio scene and I met him a few times, and always considered him a bit of a genius in an offbeat way. The world is lessened by his absence.

Jake, you meant so much to me personally and untold thousands of other listeners. I'm really going to miss you.