"Here it is," Steve Martin said,
"my little corner of the world."
Or is it more like the world in one little
corner of the Lexington duplex where the
44-year-old Martin, his wife, Betty Martin, and
their two daughters live?
This is about Internet radio.
Martin, under the DJ name KoolAidMan,
broadcasts commentary and a half-century's worth
of rock music all over the globe from his own
His listeners send him appreciative e-mails --
not just from New York to Los Angeles and many
places in between, but from places like Australia,
Iraq and dozens of other countries.
"Man, can you believe it? Saddam Hussein
and Osama bin Laden might have tuned in to
me," he said. "Doing this has really
made the world seem like a smaller place. There
are only three or four other Kentucky Internet
radio stations that I've been able to find, and
one of them's a professional, WHAS in Louisville.
"I'm kind of like the cyberspace answer to
Clear Channel. Their stations have homogenized
American radio into just another corporate
product. I'm the independent, the little guy
having fun. I play and say exactly what I want.
"For less than a dollar a day" -- the
cost of his Web space -- "I'm having a ball.
And I've gotten to meet people from all over the
In the background, Jerry Lee Lewis was singing Chantilly
Lace to a thumping rockabilly piano. But have
you heard a group called the Mojo Gurus? Martin
plays lots of CDs that never make it on commercial
Groups are always sending him their newest
songs to play.
"I'm looking for the new Beatles, the new
Rolling Stones," he said.
And, of course, he doesn't forget the past.
Martin's a big fan of Black Oak Arkansas, a heavy
metal group whose heyday was the '70s, when it had
hits like High on a Hug, Raunch and Roll
and Jim Dandy.
He's such a fan that he is negotiating with the
band to broadcast on the Internet one of its live
performances this month from a venue near Ironton,
Ohio. But this is still a hobby, and as the show
biz saying goes, don't give up your day job.
Martin's day job is in the physical therapy
department at St. Joseph Hospital.
Ironton is just across the river from Ashland,
where Martin grew up, a kid who always had his ear
glued to a tiny transistor radio.
"The challenge was to see how far away you
could pick up a station late at night," he
said. If I picked up St. Louis, I was in seventh
In a way, nothing has changed. Every radio
fan's ultimate dream is to have his own station
and play exactly what he wants to hear. The
Internet made Martin's dream possible in 1998 by
way of a Web site called www.live365.com,
which allowed him to set up his own station for
$29.95 a month.
"Now the big thing -- get this -- the
coming thing with satellite technology is that one
day you'll be able to get Internet stations on
your car radio," he said. "You'll have
an alternative between the same canned playlists
and flipping the dial."
Uh-oh. Then comes the money. And doesn't that
defeat the whole idea of the independents versus
the commercials, the little guys, the traveling
salesmen of cyberspace out there, as Arthur Miller
once wrote, "on a shoeshine and smile"?
"You can still be as independent as you
want to be," Miller said. "The listening
public knows the difference."
In addition to the music, Martin's site has
links to newspapers. He has a bunch of them on
there (including this one you're reading) from
Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Germany, New
Zealand, Iran, Pakistan, Israel, Lebanon, Russia
and China just because he likes to read and share
the news from different perspectives.
For Steve Martin, one little corner of the
world gets bigger every day.