Gold Star for the Internet: Ezra Koenig’s “Time Crisis” on Beats 1

Listening to Ezra Koenig‘s radio show on Beats 1 is one of my favorite weekend rituals. On Sunday afternoons, I make sure I’m somewhere in my house that has a good Internet connection, that my phone is charged or plugged in and that I’ve gotten something to eat for lunch (the very least, a Diet Coke).  I then settle in for two hours of A++++++ music.

Ezra is the frontman for Vampire Weekend, and hosts this show for Apple Music’s radio station. He’s one of many music celebrities who host shows periodically, including Drake, St. Vincent, Josh Homme and Pharrell Williams. I’ve been a big fan of Ezra and Vampire Weekend for awhile, and was overjoyed to find out that Ezra was getting his own show. Here are a few reasons why you should tune in.

The concept is refreshing. 

The overall theme of the show, like the title suggests, is time. Every episode starts with the same Abba song, “One of Us,” which is basically about the passing of time and remorse. Throughout the episode, Ezra revisits songs from different decades and genres. One moment he’ll be playing Billy Joel (kudos to you, Ezra) and the next he’ll be spinning Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” He’ll throw in some Hot Chocolate or Brian Eno, and follows it up with Harry Belafonte or Tame Impala. I’ve found some new-to-me music I’ve really liked through this broadcast, and find new things to like every episode.

To break up the music blocks, he’ll have conversations with some of his friends that are mainstays on the show. Some of these friends include the rapper Despot, Ezra’s cousin Asher, his sister and author Emma, and the painter Jake Longstreth. One of the other segments he does is a discussion about the top five songs on iTunes, and lately has been comparing it to top five Billboard 100 songs from other years. They talk about why these songs have been so successful, what lyrical content means and how some of the same sounds and conversations have reverberated in just a few decades. It’s crazy to listen to a song from the 1960s or ’70s and hear some of the same elements in a recent The Weeknd hit. Most of the people tuning into this radio show probably don’t listen to much of the older stuff they play, but I hope I’m not the only audience member making these connections and listening to Ezra and company’s analysis. He’s facilitating real conversation about music in 2015 and looking back on history through a specific medium.

He brings in some really awesome celebrity guests. 

In different episodes, he’s had the likes of Rashida Jones, Florence Welch and Jamie Foxx come and help him break down the iTunes Top 5, talk about life in the music industry or share some memories. Some of these celebrities he knows, and some are new friends. I know that late night television show hosts have celebrity guests come by all the time, but there’s something about a celebrity guest on a radio music show that makes it seem more genuine. None of these people have had anything in particular to promote or pimp, and it’s never the focus of the segment. It seems more like a few people hanging out and playing some tunes.

The art of the broadcast is dying in a world of replay, and he’s helping to bring it back. 

Time Crisis is pre-recorded and edited, but within a few days of the broadcast days. Although you can listen to these radio shows after they’ve aired, there’s a kind of magic to sitting down at a particular time and listening to this show. I know it’s hard to wrap your brain around, but your parents and your grandparents and your great-grandparents had to watch or listen to their programs in the moment. There was no rewind or pause button, and you couldn’t save stuff for later without going to great lengths. I like that Apple Music, for all its pushing towards the future, is trying to make the radio cool again. Ezra is doing a fantastic job at it, and for that, I’m giving him a huge gold star.

 

Time Crisis is broadcasted every other Sunday at noon. If you have iTunes, an iPhone/iPad, or can use Google, you can tune in for free. You don’t have to subscribe to Apple Music’s streaming plan, and you can even listen to the shows after they’ve aired or make them available offline to listen to elsewhere. This Sunday, there’s a new episode.

Do you listen to Beats 1? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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