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Posted on Thu, Sep. 11, 2003


Amateur broadcaster reaches world on the Net


"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 station,

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 world."

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 radio.

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 heaven."

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, 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.

Don Edwards is a retired Herald-Leader columnist, who wrote a column from 1979 to 2001. Reach him at (859) 266-4221 or donaldcedw@