Pete Lee

In the increasingly sterile world of Twin Cities FM radio, where three media conglomerates change formats like pairs of socks and "personalities" tend to be drab folks who quite literally may be doing their shifts from other cities, one voice on the dial resonates with human charm. Pete Lee has hosted Bop Street on this community radio station for more than 11 years with the simple mission of "playing stuff that's not getting airplay anywhere." Though the show (which airs from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mondays) tends to be categorized as a blues program, that barely begins to scratch the surface of Lee's holdings, which consist mostly of old doo-wop recordings from the 1950s, as well as swing, big band, and rock 'n' roll from that era. "I keep waiting for the blues police to call and tell me there's not a harmonica on this stuff," Lee says. "But my answer will be, 'Excuse me, sir, all American music is blues-based.'" Though Lee contends that his fascination with this music--and his ever-expanding record collection--is the result of a misspent youth (he is now in his 40s), his almost naive enthusiasm is ultimately the hook of the program. Lee, who grew up in New Jersey and came here 20 years ago, often refers to Bop Street as the "Land of the Round Haircut." Meaning what, exactly? "It's like what Louie Armstrong said about swing: If you have to ask, man..." he says, trailing off before he offers a stronger vision. "It means whatever you want it to. It's a place like Oz, where there are no potholes, steaks are served at every meal, and your favorite song is being played on every radio station right now."


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