Blowupradio.com is an online radio station / music website that was launched in 2001 by Lazlo. It has almost certainly played music by more New Jersey based artists than any other station in the world because Garden State artists are the base of the station's programming each day. Lazlo has been very involved in producing concerts, benefits for causes, and has interviewed tons of artists. He's taken advantage of the quarantine period to launch a daily show called Stay Home With Lazlo, which airs every night at 6:00pm.
New Jersey Stage reached out to Lazlo to learn more about the show.
Tell me about your latest show - Stay Home With Lazlo. When did the show start and how does it work?
Stay Home With Lazlo is mostly an interview show, a chance to talk to a musician about their music, as well as about how this pandemic and quarantine is affecting them. I bookend the interview with sets of songs, sometimes requests, sometimes with a theme.
Looks like you've got a pretty good schedule set up each week. Are you getting a good response so far? (regarding artists wishing to be guests that is)
I have been very lucky that I've been doing BlowUpRadio.com over 19 years now and have gotten to know a lot of musicians, so if I ask someone to come on and talk, they generally say yes. Of course I could be inflating my self worth, as it could also just be that musicians need a place to promote their music even more now that they cannot do it through live shows in a venue. Musicians can feel free to contact me if they would like to be a guest on the show. I plan to keep doing this show until the quarantine ends, so eventually I could run out of people to interview, but I've been doing this 3 weeks now, and already have the enxt week booked.
What's the biggest challenge for you in broadcasting the show?
Finding the time to broadcast. I have a little more time now that I am not going out anywhere, which is why I am able to do Stay Home With Lazlo, as well as BlowUpRadio.com's Songwriter Challenge, and in the very near future I plan to have some live BlowUpRadio.com Guitar Pulls, an event we'd usually do at Espresso Joe's in Keyport every month, as a live on air concert with each artist performing from their home but all conferenced together to be able to talk to each other.
I know you reach out for requests and questions from the public. What's the best way for people to reach you?
Moving on to isolation... how has working from home been for you? Have you worked from home before in the past?
Working from home has been fine. I am lucky that my day job has allowed me to work from home in the past, never for as long a period as this, but I knew I could do more than 90% of my job from home.
Do you still do your regular morning routines that you'd do before going to work? Or have you developed a COVID-19 world routine instead?
I still get up every day and shave and shower and get dressed, more casually than if I was going into my day job, but I try to stick close to my regular routine. I get up a little later than I would if I was going into the office, because I don't have to commute, but that isn't even a drastic change. I still make sure to get my exercise in every day. It used to be long walks outside, weather permitting, now it's just using an exercise glider.
I've been joking that I am so comfortable being home for a month, sans a few trips to the store, that maybe I am becoming agoraphobic.
How is your wife doing? I know stress is often bad for medical symptoms.
For those that don't know, my wife suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a genetic rheumatoid arthritic disease that causes great pain in the spine and ribs, and can cause fusion of the bone. Each year we host a webathon on BlowUpRadio.com to raise money for the Spondylitis Association Of America, who do research and advocacy for the disease.
She has good days and bad. Normally when she has really bad days, it sends her to the emergency room for stronger pain medication, but right now we are obviously concerned about what to do if she has a really bad day, since going to the ER is not a good option. It is one of those things most people probably aren't thinking much about now, but it weighs heavy on us.
Tons of artists are doing virtual performances online. Have you been watching any of them?
I have watched a few of them, not as many as I'd like to, but that is because I've been so busy working on all sorts of new stuff for BlowUpRadio.com that limits the amount of time I have to watch some of the performances, especially the ones that overlap with me being on the air.
Of all the things we used to be able to do each week, what do you miss most?
That's easy. My morning hot cup of espresso. My wife is allergic to coffee, so I can't make coffee in the house. I went the first week with no caffeine and just couldn't get going, so I am now drinking canned espresso each morning nowhere near my wife, immediately bring the empty can outside, then brush my teeth and use mouthwash. The canned espresso is better than nothing, but it pales in comparison to a freshly brewed hot cup of espresso, especially the strong espresso I would get on weekends at Espresso Joe's, followed by a walk through Keyport when the weather was nice. Espresso Joe's is closed right now, but I look forward to them reopening. Just thinking about it now I can recall the wonderful smell & taste of their espresso. Stay inside people so we can end this pandemic sooner and I can get back to having hot espresso.
When things return to "normal" how do you see the live music scene returning? Do you think people will have missed shows enough that they will instantly start going to shows? Or do you think the initial fear will remain for a while?
These are the million dollar questions aren't they. I wish I knew the answer. I've been doing BlowUpRadio.com over 19 years now, I remember after 9/11 it took several months for people to want to go back out to concerts, and in some ways seeing live music never quite bounced back to the way it was pre-9/11.
I fear this will be worse. The legitimate lingering fear of a second wave of covid-19, will likely make it take much longer before live music bounces back. I have faith it will, I just don't know what time frame we are looking at. Just like we don't know how long this quarantine situation will last.
Finally, we've lost several musicians from COVID-19. Any thoughts on the people we've lost?
I've had to open Stay Home With Lazlo several times in the last few weeks talking about a musician we lost, whether names known around the world like Adam Schlesinger & John Prine, or local musicians like Guy Tetro from Precous Bones. It hurts every time, as it does thinking about them, and how many more there could be before this all ends. I would love me talking about musicians who have died from Covid-19 not to be a recurring segment on my show.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.