Par Sallan waxes nostalgic about the good old days of radio, about how it has shaped his taste in music. Most people in their late twenties and beyond won’t have a hard time relating to his sentiments.

People don’t have as much faith in radio these days. Not since they began loading songs in their iPods. (In fact, FM radio is now only an option in so-called mp3 players.) Why would you listen to endless commercials or tedious banter from self-indulgent DJs when you can instantly tune in to your “Favorites” playlist?

Enter Pirate Satellite, a weekly two-hour show on NU 107 (in my book, STILL the only station that plays decent rock music) and once-rabid listeners (including myself) may find one good reason to have a little more faith in good old FM radio.

Par is the brains behind Pirate Satellite and he knows too well what has been ailing radio; it’s not just the incessant talking. A former A&R guy for local record labels and an underground DJ himself during the 80s, he is no stranger to the fact that radio stations would devote heavy rotation on current popular music being pushed by the record labels.

Thus, listeners don’t really have much of a choice other than listen to the usual radio fodder. Which isn’t all that bad really; it’s just that radio was once touted to be the barometer of good taste in music and that’s simply not the case anymore when all you need is a decent Internet connection and you can practically download any song you want.

“Through Pirate Satellite, we aim to bring back the days when kids would go out and buy CDs after listening to a song on the radio. And after they learn to appreciate the band’s music, they would go out and watch gigs. I hope something like that happens here,” Par tells me one Saturday night, in between cueing songs.

So what exactly can people expect to hear if they even bother to tune in to Pirate Satellite?

“The show caters to every genre of rock music as long as it’s revolutionary in sound,” Par says. Perhaps the best way to explain that is that the show consciously avoids playing music that’s already in NU’s rotation.

The show’s title is derived from a song by The Clash, by the way, so it’s not so surprising that Par pays a lot of attention to music tends from that era – Talking Heads, The Cure, and a lot of The Smiths, among other bands I saw scribbled in Par’s playlist.

But making the show a stronger case for music geeks to live by, even to the current generation weaned on anything indie, Pirate Satellite also plays contemporary bands that do not really get much airplay- The Unicorns, The Decemberists and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, among others.

“We do play occasional songs from the more popular mainstream bands around,” he adds. Yes, I did hear a Franz Ferdinand song. “But we make sure that the songs we play are exclusive only to Pirate Satellite.”

The show has a conspicuously foreign feel to it, thanks largely to the DJ’s Australian accent. Yes, the voice behind Pirate Satellite belongs to an Aussie and neither him nor Par would not reveal exactly who he is. Theirs is a simple story: bumped into each other in a party (ironically, a DJ Tiesto gig), discovered mutual tastes in music, came up with the idea of doing a radio show and the rest is Pirate Satellite history.

So where does Par get the music he plays on the show? The bulk of it is from his own personal collection (most of which he buys abroad or off the Internet) and that of his Australian host. He also gets “samplers” from record label people that are deemed “not commercially appealing” enough and sometimes he snucks in a song or two in the show.

He immediately dismisses misguided connotations given the show’s title. “All the stuff we play is original,” he says and continues with an intended pun, “This is original ‘pirate’ material!”

So would Pirate Satellite care to play hip-hop at all? I asked that question to which Par quickly replies that he’s been thinking of playing something by The Streets (the nom de guer of British rapper Mike Skinner). Maybe not THE kind of hip-hop most people would expect.

Pirate Satellite airs every Saturday night from 9PM to 11PM on NU107.

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