The Internet is awash with music from all over the world. You know it’s out there just clicks away, but how often do you stray from your sonic bubble?
Have no fear, Jeff Economy is here to help connect your ears with music you didn’t even know existed. His highly eclectic show, Snackpoint Charlie on Wavefarm Radio, offers “imaginary soundtracks to unmade foreign films” broadcast live from Ulster County.
A single episode will transport you as though in a dream from Manchester street soul to Cambodian folk songs, from 1950s Japanese jazz to Persian underground garage rock from the 1970s. Lots of it is stuff you actually won’t find elsewhere on the Internet.
“I’m format-agnostic,” Economy says. “I’m just as happy finding files on Bandcamp or an obscure blog as I am digging through crates of records at a yard sale. Anything that catches my ear is fair game.”
Taking that claim to the next level, Economy splices in bits of NASA tech chatter, bursts of shortwave radio broadcasts, and occasional spoken-word intervals. Otherworldly in the best possible sense, this temporary soundtrack of your life is bound to make your living room a more interesting place.
A portal between worlds, Snackpoint Charlie takes its name from an inside joke about Checkpoint Charlie, the famed crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. “When I visited Berlin in 2012, I was highly amused to discover the tower had been dismantled, and was now a food court christened Snackpoint Charlie,” Economy says. “A military border being replaced by an absurdly-named consumer space was too rich and strange to ignore.”
Snackpoint Charlie hasn’t just connected listeners to the wider world. It’s also connected Economy himself in very real ways he didn’t expect. Being broadcast on the Internet as well as traditional airwaves, the show has attracted listeners on the far side of the globe, some of whom have reached out to him unexpectedly.
Moussa “Tchingou” Eggour, an ambitious young guitarist in Niger’s Tuareg music scene, recently contacted Economy on Facebook, and the two proceeded to dialogue regularly via WhatsApp. “He speaks no English, and I don’t know Hausa or Tamashek, but French is lingua franca in North Africa, so I’ve been able to use Google Translate to muddle through.”
The two discussed the possibilities of arranging a tour, but it didn’t happen. The technicalities of having Eggour’s music released on Bandcamp proved too much for the non-music-biz American radio host.
Originally from Chicago, Jeff Economy is a filmmaker by trade. From indie music videos to documentaries to reality TV, he spent decades moving around the states. He even spent a stint as Dog the Bounty Hunter’s cameraman, kicking down doors all over Hawaii and Colorado.
He discovered Saugerties when relocating east in 2004, and eventually settled with his wife in a house in Ruby. He began hosting the show in 2017, first from the WGXC studio in Hudson, and since the onset of the pandemic from his living room in Ruby. “I’d prefer not to add up the hours, I sort of don’t want to know how much time each episode takes to assemble, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m always on the lookout for new sounds, anyway.”
To listen to Snackpoint Charlie live, tune into every first and third Wednesday of the month from 10 p.m. to midnight, WGXC 90.7 FM on terrestrial radio, or livestreaming via wgxc.org, where you will find other interesting programming as well. A complete back catalogue is available on the WaveFarm website, and you can tune in anytime to the Snackpoint Charlie archives at: https://snackpointcharlie.tumblr.com.