Any Elite Supporter of Recommended Stations has the option of being the subject of a profile article which allows fellow supporters an opportunity to get to know them a little better. We’re like a family supporting the same cause so why not get to know each other? In this, my first Patreon Profile, I introduce you to Chris Cromwell, founder of WJST, my Recommended Station nearly 1 year ago.
As a reminder, WJST, “Jet Set Radio” out of Lexington, Kentucky plays “easy listening” reel-to-reel analog tapes as originally played over airline entertainment systems in the 1970’s. Other related reel-to-reel tapes of the same vintage are also featured. Cromwell adds occasional “announcements” from his “crew” to reinforce the in-flight experience.
Cromwell was a big rig truck driver and was frequently out on the road, but he’s currently recovering at home from a health issue so it was an opportune time for me to present him with some questions for this profile.
Peter: Where were you born?
Chris: I was born at the Vandenberg Air Force Base Hospital in California; near Santa Barbara. My dad was in the Air Force at the time.
Peter: Was music a part of your childhood?
Chris: Yes! Definitely! An interesting story behind that! Around late 1967, early 1968, my mom grew more weary of the turning tides of rock music she once liked. First it was the Beatles using drugs and claiming they were more popular than Jesus. She frowned hard on that. Then it was The Rolling Stones’ deeper use of hard drugs, she really didn’t like that! Finally, when she heard Jim Morrison of the Doors on the stereo, that pretty much drove the last nail into the coffin. She was DONE with rock music. So, she started tuning around the FM dial for better music she would enjoy. She stumbled onto Beautiful Easy Listening station KSBY, among several others located around the area; like KPMJ. She quickly fell In love with Beautiful Easy Listening and soon got my dad to love it, too! They always found a Beautiful Easy Listening station no matter where we lived. So when I was born in December 1970, I was born directly into Beautiful Easy Listening Stereo Music and of course Reel To Reel Tapes! My folks had two Sonys back then! I kind of liked Easy Listening, but soon got into the more mellowed out rock music of the mid-late 1970’s. My mom gave Rock music another chance in the mid-late 70’s; especially with disco. But as time went on, she was listening to more Beautiful Music with my dad, and I eventually grew more to like it too, especially as I got further into my 40’s. Now Beautiful Easy Listening music is all I listen to.
Peter: Who are some of the artists in your personal CD/LP/download collection?
Chris: In my 20’s-40’s I was into New Wave Music, (Pet Shop Boys, Til Tuesday, The Ramones, Art Of Noise, New Order, etc.). I was also into Classic Rock, (Eric Clapton, Moody Blues, Heart, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, etc.). I also had a good decent collection of Disco Music from the Bee Gees and many others. A good variety from almost everybody. But I no longer have my CD/LP collection any longer. I gave away 5 big cases filled with CDs for free. Same thing for my cassette tapes. Everything except my Reel-to-Reel tapes are gone now.
Peter: What was the best concert you’ve ever been to? Did you ever meet a famous music star?
Chris: The only concerts I could go to was Christian music concerts during the 1990’s. Mostly because they were free for me to go to, or really cheap price; working at the Christian AM Radio station back then. There were several, I long forgotten who they were. I think one was Eddie Degarmo & Key, also Rachel Rachel? Or Amy Grant was another maybe.
I did meet Eddie DeGarmo personally for a few minutes to say hello.
There was one Christian music concert I went to, I forgot who the artist was, but she pointed me out to everyone that I was totally rocking out with her! That was pretty cool!
Peter: When did you first discover Internet radio as a listener and what about it appealed to you?
Chris: Perhaps the very first time I discovered Internet Radio was in 1998-1999. The dial-up connection of 32-56k was laggy at best, but I was quite surprised to hear different kinds of streaming music playing! At that time, I thought how cool it was to hear any kind of station or music from anywhere, not heard before. A free glimpse into everything!
Peter: How do you usually listen…a computer, an Internet radio, a smartphone app, an Alexa device?
Chris: Most usually I listen through my iPhone 12Pro. I use GetMeRadio or MyTuner Apps; maybe Live365 app. In the car the iPhone will connect through Bluetooth, and I can listen to the apps that way. I do have an Alexa device, but it’s only turned on for testing the WJST Jet Set Skill. Other times I might listen through my PC computer.
Peter: How often do you listen and what stations do you listen to (not including your own)?
Chris: I listen to Internet Radio pretty often, especially to the LoFi Music Stations, such as LoFi Girl.
Peter: Is there anything about Internet radio as a listener you wish you could change or improve upon?
Chris: I wish Internet Radio could just sound better, instead of the compressed sound all the time. Unfortunately, most legal streaming platforms only give you a low compressed signal for too high a price.
Peter: For anyone interested in listening to Internet radio or starting their own Internet station but afraid to take the plunge thinking it’s too complicated, what would your advice be?
Chris: I would say, if you have the serious passion and drive, go for it! Only the most passionate and creative broadcasters can be successful thinking outside the box.
But if you don’t have much passion or creativity for internet radio, you won’t see much use for it.
In reality, having your own internet station isn’t really all that complicated at all. It’s more about trying to build an audience over time.
Peter: Do you think Internet radio makes a difference in people’s everyday lives?
Chris: I would say it does! I have seen multitudes of positive comments from listeners. They all mention how healing and beneficial the music or programming is. Goes for me too!! Unfortunately, not many people are into sharing a station they like with others. So, nobody knows what they are not told.
Peter: You used to be a truck driver. How did you listen to Internet radio when you were out on the road?
Chris: From 2000-2017 I used XM Satellite Radio, or my USB Sticks to listen to my favorite music out over the road. My cellphones didn’t have unlimited data streaming capabilities back then. Eventually in 2018 I began listening to internet radio over the road using my Samsung Android phone. I was able to connect to the truck stereo using [the] Bluetooth connection. The Live365 app being the only one I knew of at the time. I would eventually discover other streaming apps.
Peter: I see from your Facebook photos that you own a motorcycle.
Chris: Yes! I still own (currently buying) a used 2011 Harley Davidson Nightster Sportster 1200. Fuel injected with Tachometer, Vance & Hanes exhaust pipes, plenty loud to be noticed with a car horn installed. It’s a pretty nice bike! Good mixture of blue, black and chrome.
It only has a 3.25-gallon tank, so I mostly ride it around locally near the house. Sometimes I might take it down to Richmond, Kentucky or down by Lancaster, Kentucky where my folks live. So not too many interesting places recently.
However, back in 2006, I had a brand new 2006 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 Low dark metallic red, with all kinds of extra options, chrome, gauges, and goodies! It had a 4.5-gallon tank, so I enjoyed riding it down to Knoxville, Tennessee, around parts of Colorado, and of course, different places in Kentucky. I probably should have just kept the loud Harley instead of trading it in for a 2011 Chevy Camaro. That didn’t turn out too well.
Peter: In 2018 you started your own Internet radio station, WJST. What do you enjoy most about having your own station?
Chris: What I enjoy most is, knowing that me and several others that work with me, are making a positive difference with other listeners.
I’m told frequently how healing and melancholy the programming is. They think of their past relatives, loved ones, memories, childhood, etc. They appreciate the Easy Listening Relaxing music, compared to the anxiety filled Rock Music of today.
Peter: What changes have you made to WJST since it was named a Recommended Station?
Chris: I have made quite a few new changes since winning the award! It was a motivating factor to introduce a lot of new Easy Listening, Lounge, Exotica & Christmas music! I also introduced a bunch of new poetry that airs overnight during Music Till Dawn! Some of the Poetry is read by Chief Stewardess Something Blue! Late night drink recipes are read by Koop Kooper! Just recently, I added two new weekly shows to WJST!
“The Tiki Lounge Happy Hour” from D. Argyle Vermouth airs Wednesday at 6PM Eastern Time. Followed by “The Atomic Age Cocktail Party” with Jason Croft! Wednesdays at 8PM Eastern Time. Both programs are one hour long and feature music built around a central theme.
I have also included many new singing jingles. You will often hear a British girl singing about WJST!
Last and certainly not least, I introduced a new Captain to the Jet Set Plane to replace Gary Miles. She is known as “Captain Martha”, and turns out to be my spouse as well! Several listeners told me they really like her sound on WJST.
I recently signed up an account with Strimm and uploaded a good handful of my videos from YouTube to try it out. On January 20th, 2023 at 1:15AM, I launched WJST Jet Set TV 65 on Strimm! Channel 65, meaning the year 1965, when Jet Setting was in full swing, playing popular music reel tapes on Astrostereo. Of course, I had no viewers at all, as nobody knows about it, but it gave me time to learn how everything still works. I am still figuring stuff out…There isn’t a lot of content yet and I have much left to upload in the coming weeks and months.
Last night, I placed WJST Jet Set TV 65 on the WJST Jet Set Website! Everyone is familiar with that, so it should be easy to find and view! You can head over to https://wjstjetset.com, scroll down some, and you will see the large video player; TV Guide included! Eventually I will get it set up for Ad’s, and even for Roku! I will produce promos for the TV station, too. Otherwise, nobody would know where to find my TV station on the Stremm site, even with a link, few people would know of.
The Strimm website came around in 2012, so they aren’t going anywhere that I know of. They claim to have multiple Internet TV stations around the world. It’s https://strimm.com if you want to take a look, pronounced Stream. This is what I have been working on the past few days.
Peter: This might be an odd question, but I have to ask…Who is the young boy wearing a WJST T-Shirt on WJST’s Facebook page?
Chris: LOL! It’s easy to think it’s a boy with such short hair and cute face! But that’s actually a 23 year old woman named Jonah Tojo. She lives in Chiba Prefecture Japan, not too far away from Tokyo. Jonah is a popular former JPop Star singer! Her short blue hair is her trademark look. I aired a few of her songs sung in English and Japanese on WJST! I also sent her some WJST T-Shirts to wear. One large WJST shirt I gave her is worn as a nightie! So that is who you see on the FB Page.
Peter: Why did you become an Elite Supporter of Recommended Stations via Patreon?
Chris: After such a glowing article was written for WJST, I soon had a large increase of new listeners! More people are listening longer than ever! Even more so after winning Runner Up to Station Of The Year! Everyone wants to find out why! So, it’s the least I could do to return the favor, to become an Elite Supporter of Recommended Stations. To say Thank You so very much for listening and for your support!
Peter: What do you enjoy most about the monthly Recommended and Hitchhiker Station articles?
Chris: As I began early in this article, I was amazed to hear new music and stations on dial up internet! So, what I enjoy most is reading about those new or obscure stations anywhere in the world, I wouldn’t have known about earlier. Kind of like stumbling into an unknown dialup BBS site no one else knows of.
Peter: Anything else you’d like to add, Chris?
Chris: Since October 30th, 2022, I have been at home on medical leave; currently not working. I probably won’t return to truck driving, not knowing what other job I can do with my physical limitations.
I constantly worry about keeping WJST Jet Set Radio on the air. The high monthly costs are always due, and my short-term disability pay may not always be there.
I’m asking everyone to please donate to WJST, especially if it really does provide a beneficial service to you.
Otherwise, I might have to ground the Jet Set Plane for an indefinite period of time. People tell me WJST is a station like no other. I would have to say I agree! Let’s keep it flying with your support. Tomorrow is always another day.
Update: A few days after my interview with Chris he sent an email to the folks on his list which read in part: “I’m reaching out to all of you today, our most loyal Jet Set Fliers and listeners. We deeply appreciate every one of you most very much and we definitely love bringing a unique music format not found anywhere else. But we could really use your support at this time. As with the new increased costs from Live365, it may become necessary to ground the Jet Set Plane at Midnight March 1st! WJST will go dark, indefinitely! Please donate today securely to the PayPal Widgets located on the website.”
My thanks to Chris Cromwell for his time and support and I’m sure you join me in wishing him a speedy recovery and all good things for WJST.
If you’d like to make a contribution to WJST or enjoy a musical round trip flight or two, head on over to the station’s website…no need to pack a bag and no long security lines to navigate.
If you’re a Recommended Stations Elite Supporter or upgrade to that level and would like to be the subject of a future Patreon Profile, please get in touch with me directly at: email@example.com
Trivia (from apnews.com): “Boeing bid farewell to an icon on Tuesday [1/31/23], delivering its final 747 jumbo jet as thousands of workers who helped build the planes over the past 55 years looked on.
“Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft. It revolutionized travel, connecting international cities that had never before had direct routes and helping democratize passenger flight.”