By Jim Sullivan Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor
Alan Freed. Cousin Brucie. Wolfman Jack. Dr. Demento. Casey Kasem. Bob Dylan. Wait, Bob Dylan?
Yes Dylan, the enigmatic poet of a generation, the man who shunned the media during his heyday, joined the ranks of America's DJs last week when he hosted his first "Theme Time Radio Hour," a weekly show on XM Satellite Radio, one of two competing satellite - that means, for pay - radio networks.
True to its name, Dylan's debut program focused on the theme "weather." Other topics for shows, which appear Wednesdays on XM channel "Deep Tracks," include "mother" and "cars."
"Curious about what the weather's looking like?" asked Dylan in that inimitable raspy purr. "Take a look out the window, step outside." Then he announced a song - Muddy Waters's "Blow Wind Blow" or "Uncloudy Day" by the Staple Singers - and provided insights about the players or sessions. He's your avuncular Uncle Bob, knowledgeable and accessible. And because of Dylan's history - full of ambiguity and mystery - listeners may wonder what he might reveal about himself.
Dylan joins a host of rockers who have found new, or parallel, lives as DJs - especially as the warring satellite networks scramble for customers willing to fork over about $13 a month. Sirius has Grandmaster Flash, David Johansen, Fred (B-52's) Schneider, Marky Ramone, Mojo Nixon, and many others. It also has two music channels from "Little Steven" Van Zandt (of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and TV's "The Sopranos") - "Underground Garage" and "Outlaw Country." Eminem has even set up a hip-hop channel called "Shade 45."
Meanwhile on XM, which has 69 music channels, Tom Petty hosts "Buried Treasure." Rappers Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, and Trick Daddy have shows. Quincy Jones and Elton John have each done "artist takeovers" - one-off DJ sets. (Each company has signed up nonmusical hosts as well - Martha Stewart on Sirius, Dale Earnhardt Jr. on XM.)
"Part of the appeal for people who subscribe to satellite is getting something you can't get anywhere else," says Anne-Taylor Griffith, a spokeswoman for XM. …