For What It's Worth
Yes, I readily admit it: I I am a TV junkie. I watch a ton of shows, and I go through different phases of what I'll binge on. A few years ago, I was living on a steady diet of auction and junk shows: Antiques Roadshow, Pawn Stars, History Detectives, Storage Wars. I found that I was most excited whenever the topics turned to pop culture and music, specifically rock & roll. I loved the episode of Antiques Roadshow where a woman brought in her autographed Buddy Holly album and program. So I got to thinking, What if there was a show that was solely devoted to music and pop culture?The folks at VH1 Classic agreed, andFor What It's Worthwas born. My on-air partner Jon Hein and I were given six episodes to tour the country and find cool memorabilia. (You can stream all six at vh1.com/shows, or check out three of them on the tablet version of S&V's June/July/August 2013 issue.) FWIW is divided into two segments: The first part is where Jon and I take a field trip to explore a collection or a location, and the second has folks bringing on their valuable collectibles for our appraisal.
Our field trips took us to some very interesting places. We went to Nashville to interview Jack White at Third Man Records, which serves as his store, recording studio, and rehearsal space. Jack is a big proponent of vinyl, and he showed us a plethora of fun and odd things that his company makes. We saw some multicolored vinyl. We saw a clear record with colored liquid in it. To me, the most intriguing thing Third Man makes is a clear 12-inch LP with a 45 inside. If you want to hear the 45, you have to break the 12-inch to get to it. (A real collector's conundrum.) We asked him why he did this and he replied, "to mess with people." (Thanks, Jack!)
After the interview, one of our producers said that it "was so cool to watch you guys geek out with Jack for an hour." I took it as a great compliment.
After that, we made our way to United Record Pressing, where about 35 percent of the vinyl produced in this country is made. Touring the factory was a real "How It's Made" moment for us. I was surprised to find that LP labels are put on without adhesive when the vinyl is flattened. I always thought they put them on afterward.
Our most fascinating stop was at the home of Michael Fremer, editor of AnalogPlanet and purveyor of the finer merits of analog sound. At his home, I experienced some of the most dazzling high-end equipment I've seen since I was a kid. One of many impressive pieces of gear Michael had was the Continuum Caliburn turntable with Continuum Cobra arm and Ortofon Anna cartridge. As a complete system, it goes for (yikes) $150,000. Made in Australia, it employs a lot of cast magnesium alloy, and its belt-driven platter weighs 88 pounds. Needless to say, our LP listening session with the Caliburn-Cobra was quite a revelation. Our time with Michael was an amazing adventure that I will not soon forget.
We hope to do another season of FWIW, and we already have some interesting ideas in our sights. So what else can I say now but...stay tuned.