Stepping into Jim Voigt’s brick ranch home in North Charleston is (understatement alert) an exercise in ultimate minimalism.
The distinguishing feature of the empty front room is the gray shag carpet marked by parallel sweep paths from a vacuum cleaner. The walls are empty. A nearby dining room has a marble table with four chairs. Again, nothing is on the walls.
Next door atop a counter is a dorm-size refrigerator, but it’s unplugged and empty. Beneath is a dishwasher replete with the stickers that were on it when it was installed 15 years ago.
Down the hall on the left is a brown-themed bathroom (one towel). Across the way is a bedroom that’s empty, except for eight stacks of CDs. Then there’s the actual bedroom, which features a king bed and wall-mounted TV. A third bedroom almost screams: THE STUFF IS IN HERE. But there’s little more than several more stacks of CDs, albums and a Fender Stratocaster guitar from 1985 that ground out punk tunes three decades ago. Oh, there’s carpet. It’s still gray.
Folks, you’re in the spartan home of a minimalist par excellence, the legendary Charleston broadcaster The Critic, afternoon DJ on 105.5 The Bridge.
“John Lennon wishes he could be me when he wrote, ‘Imagine no possessions,’ ” Voigt quipped. “I live it. He was a millionaire.”
A radio institution
For almost three decades, The Critic has been a staple in Charleston radio. He moved here in 1992 after leaving the band scene in New York to live in a house in Shadowmoss that his brother rented.
Voigt intended to keep the band lifestyle going in Charleston. But soon, 96 Wave co-owner Woody Bartlett, who had a weekend radio show called “The Cutting Edge,” heard that Voigt wrote music reviews. He asked Voigt to be on the show. One thing led to another. Out of it was born “The Critic” who became the snarky, wise-ass sidekick during a morning show with hosts Atom Taler and Richard Todd.
“I never thought it would last,” Voigt said. “Then they started having me every week. It was a spoof on commentary and I’d be the guy who would go out to all of the places.”
In the late ‘90s, Voigt left Charleston to do DJ work at a rock station in Atlanta, but was back a year later with an afternoon show. That lasted until 96 Wave changed ownership and formats in 2007. A few months later, he was on the air at The Bridge, where he has an afternoon show and his highly curated, eclectic Sunday morning “Critic’s Choice” collection where you can hear everything from country to punk.
When he’s not on the air or out and about (“I really don’t eat at home”), he’s listening to music or trying to figure out where to travel next. Voigt likes to take one-day trips all over the country where he can eat, drink, hear some music and see a ballgame. Called “Trippin’ with the Critic,” listeners get to hear all about the trips on his Sunday broadcasts.
A typical trip day follows what he described as a perfect future trip to Chicago: “Fly in early in the morning and have a good breakfast at a cool Chicago spot. Do some pre-game bar-hopping in Wrigleyville and see a daytime Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Do some post-game bar-hopping in Wrigleyville, grab some dinner, hop on the CTA back to the airport and fly back to Charleston that night. A good day of living and a full, fun day. Plus, I’m a chiseler, and this way I cut out paying for a hotel.”
Voigt freely admits he’s a one-of-kind guy who hasn’t plugged in his tiny refrigerator because “I don’t need it.” And because he doesn’t need stuff, he smiles and says, “That’s why I’m the happiest man in Charleston.”
Check out the Critic’s Picks playlist on Spotify.