JOHN D. WYKER HEADS UP INTERNET RADIO STATION
Decatur man's Internet station called a 'vision' of the future; music includes oldies, demos
By Ronnie Thomas/Decatur Daily, Decatur, Al
The rock 'n' roll wars behind him, John D. Wyker of Decatur has settled into a sedate life of overseeing an Internet radio station from his Prospect Drive Southeast home.
Wyker's hits from the 1960s, "Let Love Come Between Us" and "Motorcycle Mama," are typical of the tunes that you hear over Mighty Field of Vision Internet Radio.
But they don't tell the story of MFV's vast play list. Wyker, 59, says his station is playing songs that cannot be heard elsewhere in the world, including demos he got from artists or producers.
"We're playing demos that we think were good enough to be masters and records we thought were great, that the companies didn't pick up," he said. "All of us got the same old feeling from the good old golden era of Muscle Shoals music, where they had the best of both worlds, rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll."
To check out the station, you need either a Real Player or Win Amp, downloadable for free at www.real.com or www.winamp.com.
"Then go to www.GRITZ.net and click our link, Mighty Field of Vision Radio, and sit back and enjoy," Wyker said.
Guitarist Pete Carr of Sheffield, who played recording sessions with about every artist who came through the studios at Muscle Shoals, and Mike Hubbard of Hartselle have interests in the station. Hubbard is the technical brainchild of the Internet system that established the station, but Wyker gave him the idea and how to present it.
Wyker said he tired of Hubbard and Dick Cooper of Sheffield sniping about politics and religion in his Yahoo e-mail group he calls "The Tribe." He wrote, "Mike, you and Dick's arguments are pointless. Why don't you do something constructive with your time, like starting a radio station?"
"Two days later, I surprised John, and I surprised myself, when I told him I had about got the radio station together," Hubbard said.
"We're not just reaching Florence or Huntsville; we're reaching Australia, Spain, Scotland, The Netherlands and the rest of the world. We get e-mail requests from all over. I just got one from Norway. We've got a kind of top-40 list of independent artists going here, and people love it."
The station has the capabilities of showcasing any artist or band on an international scale, he said.
Hubbard said most of the music has never been heard except by the artists' families and their friends. For example, Dr. Jim Coleman of Birmingham, a pituitary specialist, came to Muscle Shoals Sound Studios during the 1960s to record an album with Eddie Hinton.
"They worked three years on it and recorded it in 1969," Hubbard said, "but it was never released. After Eddie's death in 1995 in Birmingham, his mother found the master tapes from the whole album hidden between the mattress and the box springs of his bed. We remastered them and transferred them over to CDs."
Ned Mudd, an environmental lawyer from Birmingham, also recorded with Hinton. Hubbard said that for the first eight years after graduation from The University of Alabama Law School, Mudd's "only client was the gorilla at the Birmingham Zoo."
Hubbard said Mudd plays a wide array of music, from songs reminiscent of alienated youth in the 1960s to modern folk music.
Wyker got the name for his station from Hinton. He said he produced an album for Hinton, "Letters from Mississippi," in December 1984 at Birdland Studios when it was at Owen Brown's house on Sandlin Road.
Wyker said that in a fadeout to "Uncloudy Days," Hinton threw in a "nonsensical, mystical" ad-lib. 'I can see it all now, mighty field of vision way on the sky, 747 here comes a lonely heart, way on down.' Eddie was good at that."
Hinton, a Tuscaloosa native, not only was renowned as a rhythm and blues singer but also was a session guitarist on recordings by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Otis Redding and Elvis Presley. Hinton's music plays consistently on MFV Radio.
Hubbard records the shows at midnight and puts up a new show for play each day between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m.
Wyker would not disclose the amount of money invested in the station. He said it is a nonprofit organization that gets resources primarily from donations.
"There is a way to put up a radio station for free or for very little," he said.
How? "You don't need to know the magician's tricks," Wyker said. "You just have to be amazed at him."
He said MFV is starting small, with the capabilities of having 25 simultaneous listeners. "That doesn't sound like much, but it is when spread through a 24-hour period. They translate into thousands," Wyker said. He said he is working on a federal grant application for seed money "that will expand our station to the next level. We've already upgraded my computer once, but we need larger computers."
Wyker said no one could put up such a show without the amount of material he has collected over the years from friends and fellow musicians.
"We offer a real choice of entertainment outside of 'cookie-cutter' music that is spoon-fed to the public," he said.
Listen to The Mighty Field of Vision Radio HERE
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