It was sometime in 1993 that I met Robert Goodman, on the first of thousands of trips to Five Points. His record store, the legendary Now Hear This!, was one of the few in town that carried the new album by my favorite band of all time, the Breeders. He’d sold all his copies of Last Splash, but he sent me down the street to Theory Shop, where Tammy Faircloth hooked me up with Last Splash the Cannonball CD single and the Safari EP. Before I left, he suggested I check out his radio show, of which I became an avid listener, right up until its demise, almost 15 years later.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, and that’s certainly the case today, 25 years later. There’s a new Breeders album, All Nerve, which I bought from their website instead of a record store, and Robert Goodman is back on the radio, hosting “Forbidden Planet” from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. every Saturday on Planet Radio 97.3FM. The first episode aired on Saturday, March 10, kicking off the new era with “Lannoy Point” by Ride, then cruising through two hours of all our favorites, like Agent Orange, Bad Religion, Beach House, Crystal Castles, Lorde, Pixies, NOFX, Postal Service, Slowdive, Sonic Youth and Superchunk, before ending, most appropriately, with Joey Ramone’s cover of “What A Wonderful World.”
It’s been a long road back to this point for Goodman, both personally and professionally, and the business of terrestrial radio has been fundamentally transformed. These changes are hardly lost on him. There’s even a Facebook group now, for fans to track the playlists and make their own suggestions, as well as keep track of the latest news in the wonderful world of independent music.
Folio Weekly: How did you return to radio? How much time elapsed between the original discussions and going on the air?
Robert Goodman: I got a call from Chumley in November of last year, and he asked me if I would entertain the idea of doing “Forbidden Planet” again, and I told him immediately yes. I told him my only concern would be that the station might have a different idea of what “Forbidden Planet” could be in 2018. And he told me it would be my vision, exactly the same arrangement I had last time with Planet Radio.
All my conversations have been 100 percent positive and I am completely in control of the content and direction of “Forbidden Planet” 2018. The original show ran from 1995 until the end of 2007, and the first new episode aired March 10, 2018. I still worked in streaming media after that, as head of programming for IoMedia and RadioIO.
How long did “Forbidden Planet” air, and on what station? How many episodes did you do?
“Forbidden Planet” started on Planet Radio 93.3, and moved with the station when it became Planet Radio 107.3. My best estimate is that “Forbidden Planet” had approximately 640 episodes from ’95-2007, as did its complementary show “Open House.”
How long was Now Hear This! in business? How many customers do you estimate you had during that time? How many albums do you think you sold?
Now Hear This! was in business from 1992 until 2001; I closed it when my oldest daughter’s medical needs took me away from the business. This was also about the time music sales started gravitating to the internet. I have no idea how many records I sold, as I started at the Music Shop (which later became the Theory Shop, and Einstein a Go-Go), worked at Camelot Music, managed Coconuts, and opened my own store Now Hear This!. I can tell you I helped a lot of people, and sold a LOT of music.
How has the radio business changed in the years since your last show?
The same ways the entire music industry has changed. People don’t purchase music in the same ways they did in 2007, and there are more ways for people to hear things. The actual industry is very similar; there are just a lot of different styled competitors to contend with.
What was the last song you played on the last episode of the original show?
Placebo, “Song to Say Goodbye.” I didn’t know it was the last show, which is a common thing for people in broadcasting. For quite a few years, I closed my show with Joey Ramone’s cover of “What a Wonderful World,” and I had recently switched to the Placebo track.
I liked playing a “Goodbye” song. I haven’t found a new one yet, if there is to be one. I closed my first new show with Joey Ramone, and I won’t be playing that Placebo track at all. Similarly, I started my first episode of “Forbidden Planet” in 1995 with Ride’s “Leave Them All Behind,” and played it for the first song on every anniversary episode of “Forbidden Planet.” Since Ride came out with their first album in 20 years last year in 2017, and I returned in 2018, it seemed appropriate to start with them again. After all, we both had a long hiatus, and are back. I started with Lannoy Point from 2017’s Weather Diaries.
How many songs do you play in a typical episode? How long does it take to plan out the playlist?
The new “Forbidden Planet” will air 30 to 35 songs weekly in two hours. The older “Forbidden Planet” played 48 to 53, as it was three hours long. It takes way more time than I’m willing to admit, a lot of research and listening time, and a lot of organizing and tweaking time as well.
Do you organize the playlists by themes, or just whatever strikes your fancy?
I look for inspiration in many different ways. I can tell you one thing: I put a lot of thought into what’s going to be played, and always try to make the show more than a new music show. That would be too easy. “Forbidden Planet” was never just a new music show, it was almost its own radio station that aired within Planet Radio. It plays new music, left-of-center classics, and pushes musical boundaries from many different styles. That’s what “Forbidden Planet” always did, and always will do.
What was the first record you ever bought, and where did you buy it?
First record I ever remember buying was the Sylvers, “Boogie Fever” (7-inch) and I bought it at a department store. The first albums I remember buying are ELO’s Out of the Blue and Rush’s 2112, and I bought them at Abe Livert Records. First 12-inch single was Sugarhill Gang “Rapper’s Delight,” also bought at Abe Livert Records.
For years, we’ve seen a decline in independent music stores nationwide, and a similar decline in independent radio. Do you think the internet and social media have sparked a resurgence of both?
Definitely. The internet is great for grassroots movements, and music is no exception