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Digital Doo Wop DJs
, Courier Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:00 AM
Richard Fox watches the computers while his wife, Sandy, speaks into two mics, one for the radio audience and one for the live audience Friday at Eric Phagan’s art studio at Gallery 115. The Foxes do the weekly show for the Internet radio station Doo Wop Cafe at www.doowopcafe.net. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Richard Fox cues up the next song and monitors his network connection for the live broadcast of the the Neon Blue and Sandy show. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
A simple search online almost three years ago led a couple to a hobby with a worldwide audience.
Richard Fox began purchasing records during the 1950s, adding to his collection ever since. In addition to a vast array of jazz and classical music albums over the years, he has collected tens of thousands of digital music files, an extensive knowledge of the groups and labels of the era and a few restored jukeboxes as well.
"I've got just a little bit of everything," he said of his music collection.
Yet a search online for Internet radio stations led the retired optometrist to a new hobby - becoming an Internet radio DJ with the Doo Wop Cafe.
"I was just surfing the Internet one day," Fox said. "I found (the station) totally by accident."
From thousands of Internet radio stations available on the web, the Doo Wop Cafe caught Richard's attention. An Internet radio station and club dedicated to preserving the vocal group harmony music of the 1950s and 1960s, the Doo Wop Cafe plays other rhythm and blues oldies throughout the day, the website said.
After about six weeks of listening to shows and chatting with other DJs of the site in 2008, Fox began hosting a show with the Doo Wop Cafe. He chose the radio name of Neon Blue from the names of the couple's cats Neo and Blue - plus the neon on the multiple jukeboxes he owns - and has been broadcasting shows since then.
Soon after beginning his weekly broadcasts, his wife, Sandy, began to help with clerical work for the shows and began making brief comments during the broadcasts.
"She has a great radio voice," Richard said, and Sandy - a pastor at a church near their home in Ohio - soon joined in during the Friday broadcast, creating the Neon Blue and Sandy show from 9 to 11 p.m.
Though it is time-consuming to prepare for upcoming shows, the DJs of the Doo Wop Cafe aren't paid for their efforts.
"We do this for fun," Sandy said.
Even though the Foxes usually broadcast through a desktop computer from their home in Ohio, the couple hosted remote broadcasts a couple of times over the years. Their most recent remote broadcast was in Madison during the Fourth Friday events last week at Gallery 115, where they interviewed guests and played music during the broadcast.
"It was jammed," Sandy said, and many visitors seemed to have a good time dancing to the music on the sidewalks outside the store. "They had to bring in extra chairs."
The Foxes first traveled to Madison from their home near Cincinnati to visit friends who had moved to the area. The couple soon felt at home in the community - like they had been in the area for years, they said. Recently, the couple looked at real estate in the area without much serious consideration to purchase anything. Yet the first property they checked out is a location they now consider a home away from home.
"The one and only house we went into, we made an offer," Sandy said.
The couple plans to spend time between their Ohio home and Madison, and the recent broadcast appearance by Neon Blue and Sandy won't be the last in the Jefferson County area. The couple plans to host their weekly shows from their Madison home when in the area and participate in local events again in the future.
In addition to the couple's Friday night show on the Doo Wop Cafe, Richard hosts a weekly "Deja Vu in the Morning" show on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and a bi-weekly show on Sundays from 6 to 9 p.m.
"Richard is a walking encyclopedia of music," Sandy said. "He's really good at having a theme (to the shows)."
The shows allow both of the DJs to interact with listeners and music enthusiasts from around the world through online chats during the Internet radio broadcasts.
"We have more than most stations," Sandy said, noting about 30 to 40 listeners tune in to each show. Still, Doo Wop Cafe DJs encourage visitors to have a listen at www.doowopcafe.net, which can be accessed from virtually anywhere in the world.
Even the DJs at the Doo Wop Cafe represent a national interest. Music plays almost 24/7 each week, with DJs hosting shows from California, Texas, New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and even Canada. The Internet radio allows for remote broadcasts wherever the host can set up a computer and find Internet capabilities.
"Each person is broadcasting from (their) home," Richard said, and an online server connection allows DJs to transition from one broadcast to another, usually with very few issues. "It's live radio, so anything can happen."
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