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Clarence Ewing: The Million Year Trip writesMusic 101: A Three Album Introduction to 1980s Synth-Pop

by Clarence Ewing

With over 100 years of recorded music available to us, it can be hard to know where to begin listening to the art form’s many variations. This series provides ideas for those interested in exploring unfamiliar genres and styles of music.

What Is It: Popular music whose instrumentation is made up mostly or entirely of electronic synthesizers.

The use of electronic instruments to make music can be traced back as far as the mid-1700s. Synthesizers, the electronic analogue of keyed instruments like pianos, have existed in one form or another since the mid-1950s.

Until the late 1970s, these instruments were on the fringes of music styles like Disco and progressive Rock, played by people who had enough money to buy them.

The 1980s saw the widespread use of synths in pop music, especially by bands inspired by the Punk and New Wave sounds emerging from cities. The inherently bright, chirpy sounds from a keyboard could be used to make happy music, but also deliver lyrics that weren’t so perky. Electronica, experimental pop, and “bedroom pop” (where one person could create their own masterworks using electronic tools) would emerge from the synth taking its place as a common tool in music-making.

For listeners interested in 1980s Synth-Pop but unsure where to begin exploring, these three albums would be good places to start…

Some Great Reward by Depeche Mode (1984)

Depeche Mode is the most successful band in history that used synths as their primary instruments. Their fourth album contains the international hit “People Are People,” which directly addressed racism and war, along with more risque topics like S&M (“Master and Servant)” suicide (“Blasphemous Rumours”) and the general ennui that comes with working in a capitalist society (“Lie to Me”). It’s a dark album made up of uplifting melodies that could get minimal exposure on the public airwaves.


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Categorized: Post Mix

CHIRP Radio writesCHIRP Radio Weekly Voyages (Mar 22 - Mar 28)

On the Podcast:

  • Mike Nikolich speaks with musician and bird illustrator Robert Dean

On the Blog:

Top of the CHIRP Charts for the week of 3/15/21:

The Sueves – Tears of Joy (Magicatalog)

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Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Nikki Stout writesChicago Reader Best of 2020 Polls – Congratulations To Our Winners & Nominees!

The results are in! Though 2020 was one hell of a year, we at CHIRP are incredibly proud that we have been bringing you live, independent radio throughout it all. We couldn’t be more grateful for our listeners and supporters, who voted for us in several of the Chicago Reader’s Best of 2020 polls!

CHIRP is a community radio station, through and through. Our commitment to airing local artists, both new and established, is an essential part of our mission. To have the support of our fellow Chicagoans in The Reader’s annual “Best Of” series is a huge honor, and we cannot wait to bring you more great music, more artist interviews, and more curated content in 2021!


Wins and Nominations

Winner! Best Live Lit Series - The First Time

The First Time is CHIRP’s quarterly live literary event, with local readers telling non-fiction, first person narratives in front of a live audience. The First Time also features house band The First Five, playing songs corresponding to readers’ tales. The First Time hopes to safely return to the Martyrs’ stage in 2021—stay tuned for details!

Runner Up! Best Music Podcast

The CHIRP Radio Podcast releases new episodes each and every week, from artist interviews, to First Time features, comedy, and more! You can hear portions of the Podcast on our radio broadcast each week, or check out the full releases wherever you get your Podcasts.

Runner Up! Best Blog

The CHIRP Radio Blog hosts everything from album reviews, to film reviews, personal essays, and more! We have great content planned for 2021 and look forward to celebrating all things arts and culture with our readers! 

Nominees! Best DJ

CHIRP had TWO of our incredible DJs nominated for Best DJ this year!

DJ Ninja is live on air Thursdays from 6:00 A.M. - 9:00 A.M and Fridays from 6:00 P.M - 8:00 P.M. She has been working in radio since 2001, and produces many of our on-air recorded promos as well!

DJ Nicole Oppenheim hosts Ear Candy twice per week, Wednesdays from 12:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M. and Fridays from 9:00 A.M. - Noon. Nicole first got into radio by exploring the far ends of the dial on her Mickey Mouse transistor radio, and brings that same end-of-the-dial deliciousness to Ear Candy!

Nominee! Best Overall Radio Station

And last but certainly not least, CHIRP is proud to have been nominated by our listeners for Best Radio Station in Chicago. We are a dedicated team of volunteers on a mission to share as much great music as we can, and to be named as an essential part of city life in Chicago brings us great joy. We are thrilled to be an essential part of the “new normal” this last year has forced, and look forward to safely showing up for our community in 2021.

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