When Friday night arrives and you’re looking for something adventurous to do, here’s a suggestion: tune in to public radio. Seriously. While WGTE FM 91.3 in Toledo is often associated with classical music, on Friday nights from 10pm to midnight, the station hosts Electronic Currents, an EDM (electronic dance music) show that has pulsated across the local airwaves for nearly two decades— delivering carefully curated playlists of deep house cuts, trance, techno, and other sub-genres.
Since 1999, host Richard Paton has curated sets for the local radio station that continue to chronicle the evolution of EDM. “I strive to bring a particular ambience to the show,” says Paton. “Each track is put in place so that the whole thing fits together, as if it were a DJ set. I’m always expanding the boundaries of what I include, because I like pretty much all forms of dance music.”
From the Beginning
Originally from the UK, Paton came to Toledo in the ‘80s. A former editorial writer for The Blade, he got the idea for Electronic Currents in the late ‘90s when he began really getting into the genre. “I was co-hosting [a] current events show called The Editors, and I asked the station managers about the possibility of doing an electronic music show for the station,” he explains. “I put together a pilot show and got the green light to do a half hour on one Sunday a month.” The show gradually developed into the current two-hour weekly spot.
Coinciding with digital music and the development of the famous 808 and 909 drum machines, electronic music and its many sub-genres were born out of the onset of the digital revolution in music in the 1980s. Much of what began in the underground clubs of Chicago and Detroit would expand throughout the ‘90s and become a hit in Europe before exploding into the US mainstream in the 2000s.
Big names like Portishead, Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers and countless others were born out of innovations that took place in these different scenes. “In the ‘90s, when I visited the UK, I would hear this kind of music on BBC Radio 1, and it was in all of the major clubs like Cream in Liverpool and Heaven in London. For some reason, it struck a chord with the European audience,” says Paton.
Access to the Public
Today, with EDM styles blending into pop music across the globe, it’s easy to get lost in the mix. Lucky for Toledo, Paton continues to push the boundaries of local public broadcasting by making many lesser known musical revolutionaries more accessible. “I think it shows the real value that public broadcasting has, in making art accessible to more people,” says Paton. “To me, this kind of music is just as important as classical, jazz, or any other genre.”
Paton spends hours every week in search of the right playlist for the show, and “After 19 years, it’s still such a thrill to come across new tracks that have a great rhythmic and emotional quality to them,” he says. “I think it shows that the music is still evolving.”
Tune in to Electronic Currents on FM 91.3 every Friday from 10pm until midnight.