Ten modern themes if Mara Davis still had her Radio Free lunch hours

Mara Davis is heard every Friday on 90.1/WABE's "Morning Edition" talking about local music and now on NewsRadio 106.7 hosting "Atlanta Eats" Saturdays from 4 to 5 p.m. CREDIT: Catmax Photography

Mara Davis is heard every Friday on 90.1/WABE’s “Morning Edition” talking about local music and now on NewsRadio 106.7 hosting “Atlanta Eats” Saturdays from 4 to 5 p.m. She is also doing a weekly Bert Show food discussion at 7:50 a.m. Thursdays CREDIT: Catmax Photography

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It has been nearly four years since Dave FM went away – as did Mara Davis‘ delightful Radio Free lunch hours. Each day, she’d pick songs based on a theme. It could be songs with numbers in them, artists who have red hair to whatever current events were happening at the time.

Davis treasured the 18 years she did it (including her time when Dave was Z93.) and still thinks up topics all the time.  “Topics allowed me to break format,” she wrote in a text today. “I was playing Prince, the Dixie Chicks and Buena Vista Social Club on a rock station. That was the beauty of the hour. It was completely unpredictable and fun.”

Details of the final Radio Free Lunch on October 5, 2012

Sadly, nobody in Atlanta has picked up the idea since.

So in homage to Radio Free Lunch, here are ten theme ideas that would not have been possible or logical in 2012, with suggested songs that fit said theme and would have been (more or less) acceptable for Dave FM at the time.

Feel free to add your own themes and song suggestions in the comments section, especially if you have choices for the “cheese” side of things. (Each hour, she’d include samples of songs typically outside the rock realm that fit the theme, the cheesier the better.)

Vaping. E-cigarettes were around in 2012 but didn’t really become mainstream popular until later. Possible songs for the hour all reference traditional smoking: “Seven Army Nation” White Stripes, “You Just Can’t Win,” Van Morrison, “Midnight Strikin’ ” Jimi Hendrix, “America” Simon & Garfunkel, “Rock ‘n Roll Suicide” David Bowie, “I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love With You’ Tom Waits, “Cigarettes & Alcohol” Oasis

Uber. Sure, the cab alternative launched in 2009 but didn’t start in Atlanta until December, 2012. “Taxi” Harry Chapin, “Big Yellow Taxi” Joni Mitchell/covered by Counting Crows, “Taxi Cab” Vampire Weekend, ‘Taxi Ride,” Tori Amos, “Drive,” R.E.M., “Drive,” the Cars, anything by Death Cab for Cutie

Tinder. The dating service launched September 12, 2012, about three weeks before Davis’ final Radio Free Lunch. It took a few months before it became a big deal. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” The Clash, “Left Right Left’ Charlie Puth, “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk, “Wait for Me,’ Kings of Leon, “See a Little Light,” Bob Mould, “I Need a Girl” The National,”Stay With Me” Sam Smith, “We’ve Got Tonight” Bob Seger, “One Night Stand” Janis Joplin, “Goodbye Stranger” Supertramp

Binge-watching. While people already had DVRs and DVDs to “binge watch” before 2012, this became a true past-time thanks to Netflix. And Netflix didn’t really become big until “House of Cards” debuted in 2013. “Cant’ Stop,” Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Keep on Going,” Fleetwood Mac, “Too Much Time on My Hands” Styx, “Wasting Time” Jack Johnson, “Brain Stew” Green Day, “Wasting My Time” Default

“Orange is the New Black.” This is one of those trendy shows that drew a lot of attention in 2014. Davis would certainly have used it for a theme. “Folsom Prison Blues” Johnny Cash, “Back on the Chain Gang” Pretenders, “Hurricane” Bob Dylan, “My Own Prison” Creed, “Jailbreak” Thin Lizzy, “Jailhouse Rock” Elvis Presley

“Hamilton” In recent months, the hottest Broadway show has been all the rage. Alexander Hamilton was shot by Aaron Burr in that infamous duel so songs about getting killed by bullets would work. “Pumped Up Kicks” Foster the People, “I Shot the Sheriff” Eric Clapton, “Shoot to Thrill,” AC/DC, “Gimme Three Steps” Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Hey Man, Nice Shot” Filter, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” Pat Benatar, “Shots” Imagine Dragons, “Shot Me Down” Nazareth

Donald Trump as president. Sure, he was pondering the idea of running for president in 2012 but it never happened. Now he could actually be president. “Big Mouth Strikes Again” The Smiths, “Orange Crush,” R.E.M. “Illegal Alien” Genesis, “We’re Not Gonna Take It’ Twisted Sister, “Bad Reputation” Joan Jett, “Insane in the Brain” Cypress Hill, “Bat Out of Hell” Meat Loaf , “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” R.E.M

Harriet Tubman. Just announced last month that she’s going to be on the $20 bill starting in 2020. “Money Changes Everything” Cyndi Lauper, “Money” Pink Floyd, anything by Johnny Cash, “Money for Nothing” Dire Straits, “Money” Flying Lizards, “If I Had $1,00,000” Barenaked Ladies, “Eat the Rich” Aerosmith, “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” Pet Shop Boys

Catfish. The documentary did come out in 2010 but the MTV show debuted November 12, 2012 and solidified the term in mainstream America. (Davis said she interviewed the documentarians at the time but never did a Catfish theme.) “Won’t Be Fooled Again” The Who, “The Fool on the Hill” Beatles, “Apologize” OneRepublic, “Lies” Thompson Twins, “Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It)” Tom Petty, “How You Remind Me” Nickelback, “Who Are You?” The Who, “I Don’t Believe You” Pink

Gay marriage. This happened so quickly, I doubt anyone in 2012 would have imagined the Supreme Court in 2015 making this legal in all 50 states. “Take Me To Church” Hozier, “Love They Say” Tegan and Sara, “The Story” Brandi Carlile, “I Believe in Love” Indigo Girls, “Lay Me Down” Sam Smith, “Your Song” Elton John, “Come To My Window,” Melissa Etheridge, “Constant Craving,” k.d. lang

Bernie Sanders. He was just a Vermont independent Senator in 2012. Now he’s still nipping at the heels of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. “I Want It All” Queen, “Allentown,” Billy Joel, “Another Day in Paradise,” Phil Collins, “Fast Car” Tracy Chapman, “Talking About a Revolution” Tracy Chapman, “We Take Care of Our Own’ Bruce Springsteen, “Power to the People” John Lennon “Taxman” Beatles

And a bonus 11th for Tim Lee & Company:

Atlanta Braves moving to Cobb County. The blockbuster news broke in the fall of 2013. “Movin’ Out” Billy Joel, “Leaving Town” Dexter Freebish, “Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)” Green Day, “Why You’d Want to Live Here” Death Cab for Cutie, “Suburbia” Pet Shop Boys, “I Can’t Drive 55” Sammy Hagar, any song by the group Traffic, “Get Here” Oleta Adams

Davis herself offered Prince (of course), things you’re tired of seeing on Facebook (kids, dogs, politics) and any national food day, a trend she says has gone nuts. She should know. She now does a weekly “Atlanta Eats” show Saturdays on NewsRadio 106.7. If you could fill an hour of songs about kale and quinoa, more power to you!

What inspired me to write this was Alanis Morissette updating her song “Ironic” with James Corden, using current references that weren’t around in 1996.


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