It's been a little while, but Sly is back in business on the radio. Not Sly Stone, who was a DJ for the Bay Area station KSOL in the '60s, but Anthony “Sly” Ramirez, who has recently resurrected his popular four-year-old Internet hip-hop radio station 95Live after a brief hiatus to deal with a challenge to his domain name. While he was offline, there was a void in the local music scene, as the street-level sounds that are too raw for Clear Channel stations like KMEL and Wild 94.9 went without their only radio outlet. But now Sly has announced that 95Live has been picked up as an official iTunes station.
“Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back,” blares a snippet from the '70s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. The sample is repeated often during The Sly Show (weeknights from 7 to 10), a mix of music and talk on which, although calls are welcomed, a favorite motto is “audience participation is not needed.”
Sly is somewhat of a Howard Stern for the hip-hop set, giving the phrase “color commentary” a whole new dimension. On a recent evening, he waxed philosophical about how snitches should die, mixed in hot new beats from New York and Oakland, and pondered — in graphic detail — what Angelina Jolie might be able to do with those luscious lips.
“I'm trying to take it back to old-time radio,” he says later, with no trace of irony.
Growing up in the Oakland area, Sly saw his share of what he calls “graphic stuff” at a young age. He says it made him a quiet kid who held a lot in, but even back then he craved a career in show business.
“Other people were playing with G.I. Joes,” he remembers, “but I had a mike and would watch the Oscars with my mother and tell her I would be up there doing that.”
The station was born out of Sly's disgust with his tenure as a “slave” (aka, a Clear Channel radio intern). He wanted to see radio become less about rigidity and more about creativity. Now, with his free-form format, Sly makes the hip-hop scene proud and gives shock-jock enthusiasts a new voice to follow.
“It's good to be here,” says Sly, on the air. “Gimme a call, though, man.”