Lord Litter has been making compilations and radio shows since 1987, and you can find almost all the broadcasts on archive.org. It seems as if the Lord seems to enjoy the split release I put out with Michael Cosma, which you can still get on CD, and digitally through haltapes.com. I’m quite proud of that one too, as it is my Halloween release.
So, why don’t you tune in to Lord Litter’s show? He’s got excellent taste, and a very cool radio show.
If You Host A Radio Show, WTBC Has Got You Covered.
Promotional copies of our newest releases are available now for radio personnel and podcasters to obtain, for use on your programs.
As a current DJ, and someone who has built their show largely on the kindness of other artists, I have often depended on promotional materials to help flesh out the program. Knowing that DJs can often have a deficit of money to spend on producing their shows, WTBC is offering their newest releases, or any old releases, to DJs and radio staff.
Here’s how it works: send an email to email@example.com with information about your show or podcast. WTBC has a secret stash of promotional materials that we can e-mail or send to you, physically, so you can play them on your shows. It’s pretty simple, really, and hopefully it will help get the word out about our new endeavors.
Radio and Podcasts are the cornerstone of how we spend our time in the 21st Century, and it is important to know that our DJs and podcasters have the best possible tools to present the bests possible shows to their listeners. Just know that, in this effort, WTBC has your back.
Nearly half of that table contains gear that was donated to The Lava Lamp Lounge by kiisu d’salyss of The Secret Light. My studio monitors are the ones the used for mixing their first record. Hopefully I can do good work with them here.
For many years I tended to ignore the simple pleasures of the holidays, and as my radio show became more singular, I resisted the holiday season, often openly mocking it (with shows like, “Christmas Music For People Who Don’t Like Christmas Music,” etc.).
But even someone like me, who has come to enjoy radio at it’s most unusual or atypical, there is a certain appeal to finding the place between “typical holiday music” and “what I usually do on this program.” And with Old Time Radio, punk rock holiday albums, experimental live radio and performances, and everything in-between, I have been fortunate enough over the years to avoid, “Here’s some Christmas Carols for you to enjoy this year.” The closest I come to that is putting on detective radio shows for the holidays.
Regardless, there are over 20 years of Holiday Programs in our “Holiday Memories” Podcast feed, waiting for you to enjoy. This includes broadcasts on a number of stations, in a number of forms, with a wide range of holiday offerings for you to put on and digest. Over 100 hours of programing, with over 80 different shows to choose from. This year, we’re adding some new items to the feed, including some holiday episodes of Somewhere In-Between: A Radio ‘Zine that are new this year, and a handful of new Mid-Valley Mutations, where we feature a Hal McGee holiday album, cut up some amazing Old Time Radio stories, offer some futuristic Christmas Carols, and a full episode-long holiday deconstruction by Mini-Mutations. We’re pulling out all the stops this year, and we would love to have you come and join us, too.
The easiest way to get it is to subscribe with our App-Agnostic-Feed, where you can get all the goodies. But you can also find it in iTunes. (I’ve heard it is in other services too, but I haven’t put that to the test.) Just search for “Holiday Memories Austin Rich,” and it usually comes up pretty quickly.
The Holiday Feed contains everything from all the end-of-year holidays from November through January, so if you want individual episodes for separate holidays, here are all the Christmas Shows, and here are all the New Year’s shows.
If you would prefer a little music that has a seasonal flavor to it, then you might want to look into our “Seasons Greetings” digital album, perfect for the kind of person who enjoys the holiday season, but wants their music very, very weird. Almost 2 1/2 hours of Mini-Mutations not available elsewhere, with over an hour of bonus instrumental tracks. This includes live radio jams, live performances in front of audiences, spoken word with sound FX, everything in-between. This one is only available digitally, so head to our Wanting To Be Cool online store via bandcamp, and enjoy some new tunes that speak to this time of year.
And, if that’s not enough, we have, hew this year, the Mini-Mutations Musical Holiday Card, with an EP of new Holiday Carols that you can only get via the mail. This is part of a monthly Postcard Project that I’m working on in 2021, and if you want to start getting these, then you’ll want to contact me with your address. There will be one-of-a-kind music offerings through these postcards, that only come via the mail. Support the US Postal Service, and small experimental artists, and get something cool in the mail.
While this year has been a bummer, and it is hard to get into the holidays, maybe our atypical traditions will be the perfect antidote to the holiday malaise.
It was a delight to catch up on my podcasts, and to find that Mini-Mutations made a appearance on the November 21st episode of What’s This Called?, the program hosted by Ricardo Wang. What a true delight. You can hear the entire episode here, which is a just a direct link to the show hosted over on his site. It’s always a treat to hear my material mixed in with other stuff, although I feel like I should probably send him some new stuff, as I feel like I’ve made a lot bigger advances since then.
Still, it’s nice to hear this stuff, and the CD is out of print, meaning the only way to hear tracks like this is from DJs that play the tune on their show. I might re-issue that disc eventually, but for now, you can pick up, “You Are There,” digitally, which contains bonus tracks that are not on the CD.
Thanks again Ricardo!
For a number of years now, RADIOPHRENIA has curated a two-week long radio broadcast, in November, to feature and highlight some of the most interesting (and compelling) sound and radio artists around the world. They highlight some of the most unusual broadcasters and sound artists working today, and it is always worth tuning in for, to see what they have going on each year. (Fortunately, you can stream it all using this link.)
Beginning today, RADIOPHRENIA begin their broadcast, and it is off to a great start. You can review the schedule here, but I urge you to listen at 5 PM PST on November 10th (1 AM GMT on November 11th), to hear Mid-Valley Mutations. A special show has been assembled just for them, containing excerpts from my favorite broadcasts I made this year. This isn’t precisely new material, if you listen to the show regularly, but it’s assembled in a new way, specifically for this show, and will give people who don’t normally hear what I do a chance to check it out.
I’m very proud to have been selected to be a part of RADIOPHRENIA this year, and I’m looking forward to hearing all the other artists too, and finding out what they did, too.
Thank you RADIOPHRENIA, for championing unusual sounds and radio, all over the world.
A Roundup Of Halloween-y Things You Might Enjoy!
I started getting serious about Halloween radio in 2003, and since then, I’ve done my best to offer some very cool sounds that complement this time of year. With that in mind, I have a few Halloween themed audio albums that you can enjoy, and a Halloween podcast that you’ll want to subscribe to! We had a lot of fun this year, and I’m pretty proud of what it out there. So, maybe you can add these to your holiday playlists?
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The Cosma-Mutations Split CD.
Part of Hal McGee’s Electronic Cottage Splits series of releases, which has paired 40 artists in a number of complementary and impressive ways, and created an excellent body of work that displays a great cross-section of experimental artists working today. Michael Cosma & I cooked up a little Halloween release, with eerie tunes and a spooky original story set to music. An hour of experimental Halloween sounds that will complete any home. You can pick up a digital or CD version from the EC Bandcamp Page, or get a CD version from the WTBC Store.
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The Ways of Ghosts by Ambrose Bierce (Read by Austin Rich)
Now five years old, this release compiles some recordings made for Halloween Radio, with some new recordings and other bits and bobs, to present our first Spoken Word release. The centerpiece is a reading of an Ambrose Bierce collection of stories, with music and SFX that highlight the supernatural eeriness of these creepy tales. You can pick up a digital copy form the WTBC Store.
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Hallowtide Harmonies by Mini-Mutations
Recorded live, while on tour with Mark Hosler during the first Mini-Mutations tour, the shows were building up to a big Halloween performance at the Re-Bar. This digital album collects almost two and a half hours of halloween atmospheres, creepy cut-ups, collage stories about trains & haunted houses, with lots of ghosts flitting about the entire time. While this only captures the “spooky” parts of that tour, those were some of the most fun, and they’re all here, for you to enjoy. You can pick up a digital version form the WTBC Store.
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This program launched in 2020, and it’s a collection of all sorts of stories about life in these modern times. For October, I read stories and poems that help put listeners in the holiday spirit, with selections from Richard Brautigan, Ambrose Bierce, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Mark Twain, Robert Frost and O. Henry, some classic tales that are perfect for those late-night flights of fancy. The last installment of this four episode series airs tomorrow on KMUZ at 10:30 AM, but you can also catch all the shows by Subscribing To The Podcast.
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Keeping in-step with our annual tradition (going back to 2003), we offer four new radio broadcasts, with live music, a returning a guest, and a long trip to the movies… in an at-home, safely quarantined kind of way. It all begins with a live Mini-Mutations / forest journey into an ancient place I’ve never been to before, so I can catch a performance by Daona in a clearing. Then, I get lost on my way home, wind up in a House on Haunted Hill, then get stranded on Horror Island, and finally, get to the radio station where I get to hang out with DJ Victrola, who is more than game to talk Horror Movies with me. It’s a little MST3k, a little “live music overdrive,” a little “podcast hang with a friend you care about,” and all of it is very, very “in the mood.” The best way to stay in touch with this show is to subscribe to the podcast, here on iTunes, which includes roughly the last year or so of podcasts. But you can always visit midvalleymutations.com, to find all the back-episodes.
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If you want immediate access to hundreds of hours of free Halloween radio, then this is your one-stop shopping for all the fun. We have done it all over the years. Phone calls from people who had ghostly or supernatural experiences? Check. Recordings of Old Time Radio Horror broadcasts? Absolutely! 60’s monster songs and spooky frankenstein dance numbers? Undoubtedly. Trips through the Punk-In-Patch? In a Misfits shirt and everything! I even get guests to come and read scary stories on the radio, use Ouija boards, play live, or just enjoy the ambiance. I re-run all the old Closet Radio Halloween programs, and feature my annual sister-in-radio, DJ Victrola! This feed offers all the episodes, from all the shows, and give you the chance to enjoy some one-stop shopping for everything Halloween Radio. You will most definitely want to subscribe to this iTunes Feed so your party will have the right vibe! Can you dig it?
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Be Seeing You!
This has been an excellent season, and I look forward to it every year. Hopefully this brought a little joy to your ears, and helps set the tone for a fun a excellent season. This year has been hard. Maybe some fun music and radio will soothe you, for a little while, anyway.
A BRAND NEW episode of my new radio show starts at 10:30 AM, today!
After a month off for re-runs, we begin a slew of new episodes with a Pledge Drive broadcast, on our new day and time!
Tune in, to find out why you should donate to KMUZ, and digest this radio diary, from my home, to yours.
Marc Time has been doing double-duty over at KWVA ever since the virus changed our lived completely and dramatically. He’s been re-running a wide-range of his old shows, not only during his normal time slot, but all over the schedule. And with a large archive like his, there’s a show for every occasion.
I’ve been lucky enough to guest on his show a few time, and this Thursday (1 October 2020), at 8 AM, KWVA will be re-running the episode where Colin Hix (from /root_DIR) and I tell Cathead stories, and hang out with Marc for his show. I reveal some new production pieces I made just for his program, and overall, it’s a lot of fun.
Marc is one of those people that I will not be able to visit until the virus is handled; he and I are different generations, and I don’t want to risk spreading anything to him if I can avoid it. So until we can hang out again, it will be recorded memories like this.
Tomorrow. 8 AM. KWVA. Tune in!
At 3 PM, PST (12 AM, CET), join us for another episode of Mid-Valley Mutations! Before our very ears, our own dreams will dissolve until all we can hear are the sounds of everyday life.
In the interest of trying to get the radio ‘zine to find the right home, KMUZ and myself have decided that we need to move this show to a time that better suits the program. To that end, we will be moving the program to:
I really like doing this program, and I hope that you enjoy it, too. And I think Fridays are the perfect day to do so.
Beginning OCTOBER 2ND, you will be able to catch the show it it’s new time.
Until then: enjoy plenty of back episodes at betweenradiozine.com, our home away from home.
You just can’t keep me off of DFM.nu, and with all the excellent stuff that happens over there, I bet you can imagine why. I’m practically becoming a regular over on UB Radio Salon, and at this point, das & Ninah of Big City Orchestra could have me on every week anyway. What else am I gonna do until the isolation is over?
I’m quite excited about this one, as they have started a new series within UB Radio Salon: “UBRoom,” which features the only Zoom Call you will ACTUALLY want to join. There’s a whole cast of characters joining us for this one, and as we perform a very special show in two acts, you can settle in for the dada radio Zoom Call that really must be heard to be believed.
Coming Up: Sunday, September 20th
5-7pm US PDT / Midnight-2am GMT / 2-4am CEST
UBRadio Salon *SPECIAL SERIES*
UBRooms Session no. 2
Live broadcast with BCO & friends within the covid influence. Together yet apart, sound and words. Improvised radio art.
BCO’s remote cast of characters:
• OTIS FODDER
• AURORA JOSEPHSON
• AUSTIN RICH
• DINA EMERSON
• LESLIE SINGER
along with pixie & dAS in the Chakra Chimp Research Kitchens
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UB RADIO SALON on Internet Archive >
Subscribe to UB RADIO SALON podcasts:
Considering any logistic or technological issues that may happen tomorrow due to smoke, fires or viruses, I will be making another appearance on UB Radio Salon, the wonderful program hosted by das & Ninah of Big City Orchestra. I’ve made a few appearances on the show now, and we sort of have a rhythm to these things, now. I will be in the Lava Lamp Lounge, and they in the Chakra Chimp Research Kitchens, and we will be performing two live improvised radio pieces, “Which One of Us Is I?” The program will feature the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, among other things. Tune in, and enjoy the soothing sounds of UB Radio Salon.
Coming Up: Sunday, September 13th
5-7pm US PDT / Midnight-2am GMT / 2-4am CEST
UB RADIO SALON no. 661
“Which One Of Us Is It?” BeeBee CeeDee Orc-Est-Star with Mini-Mutations provided by Austin Rich
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UB RADIO SALON on Internet Archive >
Subscribe to UB RADIO SALON podcasts:
Episode One of something new is now is the can. Now, I wonder how long it will be before you hear this…
When I first started in radio in 1998, there were often scheduling changes that you just couldn’t announce to anyone short of calling them directly, or through putting up a flier. I used to advertise scheduling changes in my zine back then, and often, listeners didn’t really notice the change. The way radio works — both then and now — is that the LISTENER is choosing to turn on the radio when THEY want to listen. If I happen to be on the air, then that’s a lucky break for me. I’ll have to let the listener decide how they feel about the matter on their own.
I relentlessly taped my show, on cassettes, and I offered edited copies of the show in my zine. I never sold one. When I got the technology to transfer tapes to CD, I digitized my shows, and offered them on CD. Again, never sold one. It wasn’t until the technology existed to post full radio recordings online — certainly a 2004 and later innovation for me — that there was any demand for my show in a form other than the original broadcast, and while I’m glad I recorded my shows for the sake of keeping an archive, in a lot of ways, those recordings are for me alone.
Anymore, what people seem to want from my show are two separate and different things by two different groups of people:
The first group, they want a live, real-time radio-listening experience, that they can either tune in for or stream as it is happening. And this group of people is usually different than the group that wants a timely podcast episode to appear in a dependable (and regular) podcast feed. This change was almost immediate; I began to hear from two different kinds of listeners after I launched the podcast feed for my show in 2004, thanks to KPSU having adopted the technology for all their programs back then. And, for the most part, the live show and the podcast are the same; the latter is a recording of the former. I’m really just producing one show, and it’s being distributed in two different ways. It’s sort of like old school syndication, but I don’t have to deal with mailing CDs out to anyone. They can just subscribe digitally and enjoy.
All of that is a long way of saying that, since 1998, the distribution model for my radio show has changed so many times that I can’t even keep track of everything, save for the spare announcements I make about it on old episodes of my program. So announcing changes are nothing new, and, in fact, can help bring the show to new people at a time new listeners would appreciate jumping on.
With all of that in mind, let me introduce you to the NEW broadcasting schedule that we will be working with, for the foreseeable future, and give you a small glimpse into what the next for radio broadcasts will contain.
2. This Is Now
Here’s when you can hear the show, now, primarily:
We are happy to return to the airwaves of KLFM.org in beautiful Split, Croatia! We have been syndicated on KLFM before, and we love working with them. So, beginning TOMORROW, you can hear our show on their station again.
WEDNESDAYS: 3 PM – 5 PM PST (12 AM – 3 AM CET): You can listen to our show live!
This is an interesting time of day, as it is the end of the work day for people who work in offices on the West Coast, it is an early evening listen on the US East Coast, and is late night fare in Europe. (It’s EARLY morning fair for half of Asia, and wake-up / breakfast listening for the rest.) So, hopefully, people who enjoy experimental radio in those parts of the world will enjoy this program, humbly coming to you from Salem Oregon, by way of Croatia.
As to not spoil those who want to tune in live and hear something new, the podcast will not drop until 3 PM PST. So, if you are the kind of person who listens to podcasts as they are released, you’ll hear it in tandem with the Live Listeners on KLFM. Or, you can enjoy it at your leisure, whenever.
There is, however, a need for me to set aside a time to produce the show. And, as some people have become interested in this element of the show, there will be a special time, set aside, for true believers to enjoy the program before anyone else does, via a live streams on social media. We’re still in the beginning phases of testing this, and making sure that we can do this in a sustainable and manageable way. But I will be recording the shows at a scheduled time anyway, so I might as well right? Join me at:
SUNDAY MORNING, 8 AM to 10 AM PST on Social Media for a live streaming version of the show.
Since these streams are not for everyone, and require a certain amount of dedication to enjoy, they will be for those who want to really be a part of the show. I’m hoping to get interactive phone and Skype boxes added to the studio, so that people can get in on the old “Audience Participation” element of how I used to do radio. (Seldom used, but often mentioned when I was live.) However, that will require getting some new gear, which may take a while, so don’t be surprised if the show sounds a little “canned” for a while. Until we can get the new gear, we’ll do our best to deliver a low-tech version of the show that you can interact with in real-time, and someday, we’ll try to deliver a higher quality version.
Another point of order on scheduling: We will be producing a radio show every week, but if you tune in every week, you will hear two different programs: “Mid-Valley Mutations” on one week, and “WTBC Radio” on the other week. Both shows will be heard on KLFM.org during the aforementioned time-slot, but will be available in their own podcast feeds.
This gets at a problem that I’ve mentioned before: I love doing more than one radio show, and I have many ideas for many kinds of radio shows I want to do. But doing two weekly shows is a bit much for one person to handle, especially for someone who doesn’t get paid to do any of this. So, by changing the release schedule, and doing the “every other week” dance like this, I’m able to produce both shows, at a rate I can manage, and keep the quality at the same level it’s been at previously, which is important to me. So hopefully you don’t notice the shows dropping in quality, only in how often they come out.
One final concern: KMUZ. I started “Mid-Valley Mutations” on KMUZ, in spite of the program having roots that go back to 1998. The new direction and name for my 20 year old show was a sort of a re-christening, as I attempted to pursue a vision that felt important to me. Out of the show that I grew at KMUZ, I developed Mini-Mutations, my musical act that has become another creative outlet that I value, and KMZU became a place where I could try and find my voice in a radio world that has many who say very little. KMUZ never censored the program, and never told me to change anything. They encouraged me to make the show I wanted. KMUZ made “Mid-Valley Mutations” possible, and as “Mid-Valley Mutations” moves on to continue finding itself, this is not because of any problem or issue with the place that helped grow us. In fact, I am developing a new program with them right now, which should be announced very soon. But recently I realized that “Mid-Valley Mutations” needed to grow a little more in order to become what it has always wanted to be, and that might need a place where I can go long or short if I need to , a place where the language restrictions might not be as tight, and a place where I can REALLY get experimental without fear of alienating the listener base that KMUZ has so carefully grown. So, this isn’t a parting of ways with animosity, or any negativity at all. I’m excited to find out how my new KMUZ show goes over. But “Mid-Valley Mutations” has gotten some wanderlust, and it needs to roam free in a way that KLFM is only happy to allow. I think, if I was to try and pursue these changes at KMUZ, it would really ruin the mood for everyone.
3. And What About Then?
With all of that said, here’s a tentative calendar of upcoming shows, for the listener who might want to get the feel for the every-other-week low-down, and who might be curious about the next couple of guests on WTBC. It’s exciting to not only have a schedule, but to have carved out blocks of time where I can get my radio done, and not feel like it’s always a rush.
Questions? Suggestions? You know who to call…
05 February: MVM #180
12 February: WTBC: Scot Jenerik
19 February: MVM #181
26 February: WTBC: Jeremy Hight
04 March: MVM #182
11 March: WTBC
18 March: MVM #183
25 March: WTBC
And so on…
(Originally broadcast on 15 April 1998 on KWVA.)
This was my first ever radio broadcast. 4 A.M. – 7 A.M. on KWVA. What follows is a recreation, based on playlists, recordings, and memories from that evening. This is an approximation of what it was like to listen to my show in those days.
Here’s the backstory: I have been obsessed since I was 10, when I got my own radio / cassette combo, and a box of tapes to go with it. (Plus a couple blank tapes.) Staying up, past my bedtime, listening to radio dramas (not called “Old Time Radio” among fans) and classic rock DJs as my pre-adolescent mind tried to wrap itself around all the things I was hearing. It stuck with me, as I started calling KZEL to request songs and chat with the DJ, my mom already working in that field herself. It was KZEL that broke grunge to me, my friends at school how suggested KRVM, and as alternative began to find it’s way to the sleepy town of Cottage Grove, I found myself wanting to break out of the confines, and find the world I was hearing through the radio.
Pump Up The Volume is sort of the nail in the coffin, isn’t it? Suggesting a winder world of radio and music that is not what you once thought it was. When I finally did burst out of Cottage Grove for Eugene, KWVA was the station we all huddled around, and you would hear it all over town, blasting out of coffee shops and front porch freak-outs. It was almost as instructive as the tapes Colin & kiisu would make for me, and this inevitably led to the Colin Mix tape that featured Negativland heavily. I connected with them, and copied my roommates’ albums immediately, to find that I loved this group. As I dug into them more, I had heard tale that they did a radio show, which sort of blew my mind. A band, that does a radio show? I love radio! I need to heard this!
By the time I was staying with Little Jon, I had not only come into recordings (through CDs and tapes friends would mail me), but our mutual friend Shane With No Last Name starting a morning mix show on KWVA. All of these vectors sort of coalesced, and I obsessively taped Shane’s show (and a lot of KWVA), anticipating each new entry into his “9 AM Slayer” segment, and getting to know the station in general.
I immediately filled out an application to become a DJ, and submitted it, only to wait for some time, not hearing a peep. I was a little discouraged, as it seemed like it had been so easy for Shane to get his show. I must have done something wrong. At the time I was still making ‘zines, so I focused my energy into that, until one day, several months later, when I was in the area and dropped into the station. I asked about my application, and there it was, in a pile of “to be read” applications. None of the staff had actually seen it yet. I hadn’t done anything wrong, and nothing sinister was afoot. The first rule of radio was learned: if you keep showing up, you’ll eventually get on the air.
It wasn’t long before I got a call back, and was asked to start out in the “beginner” slot. This is the dreaded 4 AM to 6 AM airtime (with a 3 AM to 3:30 AM “arrival” time). I took it, because I was 23 and full of energy and what was I gonna do with my time, anyway? This was the ’90’s, and everything was cheap. I was working part time jobs and living with roommates. Of course I’ll leave the bar, pick up some records, cruise on down to the radio station and DJ for a couple hours. What else am I going to do?
And so, on April 15th, 1998 (a Wednesday), I waltzed into the KWVA studio at 3 AM, and began a tradition that has now lasted me 20 years. Fortunately, these days, I don’t go in at 3 AM anymore.
In the time since I’ve been on at a number of stations here in Oregon, and 14 years ago we began podcasting, which has changed the game considerably. I’ve moved, changed the name, hosted up to three or four shows at once, and for years and years on end, hosted a weekly live band, too. (I’ve recorded somewhere around 300 radio performances in that time.) And if we roll the clock back to include the ‘zines and bands I’ve been in, and the live shows at venues I’ve put on too, and we’ve got 25 years of this nonsense I’ve been making, trying to carve out my own version of art in that time.
It’s a lot to process. But I’m entirely grateful for this career that I’ve managed to sort out for myself. Being on the radio for 20 years has not only given me a chance to figure out who I am and what I want, but has given me a creative outlet that really feels comfortable. When I set out to make a new radio show, it feels as exciting as it was to show up to KWVA 20 years ago, and have the station manager look me up and down, and say, “Okay, when I leave at four, you’re on. You’ve got the place to yourself. Don’t screw it up.”
Hopefully, I haven’t. Making radio has been incredibly rewarding, and I’ve met incredible people in that 20 years, who have all contributed to making this show possible, week after week. When I get discouraged, I return to radio. When I’m happy, I can say it in a show. Before I had this outlet I would make tapes, obsessively, sending them out to friends, trying to perfect the mix. While I keep redefining what that mix “is” as I get older, I have to say I’m fairly happy with the shows I’ve made over the years. It reflects who I am, and how I’ve changed. While the show that I pitched to KWVA – an Over The Edge clone – was not the show I ended up making, as the years progressed and as my tastes changed and evolved (and as I moved from station to station), the show I originally pitched became the show I do now, and you can hear that 20 year evolution if you’ve been along for the ride.
But that isn’t to say that my show wasn’t more conventional at times. I used to do an all 60’s Rock show. For a spell it was strictly punk. I went through a phase of just playing everything at once and hoping for the best, and then a full pre-planned and pre-produced phase, that sometimes felt that way, too. For years it was just live bands, and I even did a brief stint doing only progressive rock. My show is difficult to pin down because I don’t really want it to be any one thing, restricting it to a format of which I can then grow tired. But as the years wore on it was clear that I was gravitating more and more to something that was obviously influenced by Over The Edge, even though it did not start that way.
On April 15th, I was more than a little drunk, and the station manager actually left before it was officially 4 AM. (She had been called in suddenly to cover for the 2 AM – 4 AM gent, who suddenly didn’t show up.) And to make matters worse, the DJ after me didn’t show up either, so the Programming Director came in and relieved me. Most likely I was actually on from 3:45 to 6:50 (or something like that), but I didn’t keep track of thing then as precisely as I do now. (A phrase which could probably go on my tombstone.)
The show had the incredibly unwieldy name of The Church of Blasphuphmus (Not Jesus) Hour, and up until 2013, some variant of that name was the one I used, on the air, no less. I got a few complaints about the “anti-religious” sentiment, but very little, considering how long I kept the name around. Since then, the name has changed a few times, but Mid-Valley Mutations seems to suit best the nonsense I’ve created, and feels like a good roadmap, too. While the old name was informed by the religion kiisu & Colin made up (and I willingly began to join in on), I can’t help but acknowledge all that the SubGenius did for me, and for them, in giving us ideas, too.
Through the miracle of tape and digital archiving, there is actually a recording of my first broadcast. The recording that follows is a re-creation of it that I made, using the surviving tapes, playlists, and guesswork as to what was popular then, and in particular, what I remember hearing / playing on KWVA in those days. (So, the re-creation is only as good as that.) In those days, it wasn’t as practical for me to record and keep all the tapes necessary to archive my entire show, and I played a fair amount of music that I already owned in other formats. So when archiving my KWVA shows, I would cut out the songs I owned elsewhere, and just keep the other bits. I rarely saved commercials, and I regularly lost huge sections of shows. (Near the end of my KWVA run, I just stopped taping entirely, and have still not yet found the supposed recording I made of my “last” KWVA show, before I moved to Portland.)
Suffice it to say, the recording here is a pretty good reproduction of what my show was like back then, but also, is like a journal entry from that day, from that year, that I can look back on. Because I’ve recorded so many of them, and because there are plenty of specific places and dates associated with all of them, the really do act as a way I can “listen” to my own story, and get a sense of who I was and what I’ve become in 20 years. This first show is not “great,” but it is a nice slice of nostalgia, and it shows the potential of what was to come.
I’ll be including occasional other selections from the archives to bring out some of my favorite moments from my radio years. I’ve done a few shows that I think are very indicative of the fun I’ve gotten to have on the radio over the years, and I want to share those moments with you now that I’ve had a couple of decades to reflect on them.
Most importantly, thank you. Without an audience, there is no art. And without you, the listener, there is no show.
Be seeing you.
* * * * * *
01.) Strychnine * Strychnine * Born to Loose * Industrial Strength Records
02.) Millionaire * ?? * ?? * ??
03.) Teenagers From Mars * Misfits * Collection * Caroline Records
04.) Christine * The Con Men * Live In-Studio * KWVA Radio
05.) Dicks Hate The Police * The Dicks * 1980-1986 * Alternative Tentacles Records
06.) Stereo Phasing Test / Television * Man… Or Astro-Man? * Experiment Zero * Touch & Go Records
07.) Cramp Stomp * The Cramps * Big Beat from Badsville * Epitaph Records
08.) Selector Pt. 2 * Dub Narcotic Sound System
09.) Buenos Tardes Amigos * Ween
10.) Fade In / Fade Out * Red Aunts
11.) Forest Fire * Dead Kennedys * Plastic Surgery Disasters * Alternative Tentacles Records
12.) BluBlud * KARP
13.) KWVA In-Studio Performance * The Outclass
14.) My Novel * Oswald 5-0
15.) Let’s Go Away * The Wipers
16.) Neat Neat Neat * The Damned * Damned Damned Damned * Stiff Records
17.) Justification * Against All Authority
18.) Streamline Yr Skull * New Bomb Turks
19.) Embryodead (Aghast View Remix) * :wampscut:
20.) Shaved Women * Crass
21.) Praying Hands * Devo
22.) Caught In My Eye * Germs
23.) Smokin’ Banana Peels * Dead Milkmen
24.) Hexenzsene * Unwound
25.) Metanoia * King Missile
26.) The Way Of The World * Flipper
27.) Happy Hero * Negativland * Dispepsi * Seeland Records
28.) Kill All The White Man (Live) * NOFX * I Heard They Suck Live!! * Fat Wreck Chords
29.) Germfree Adolescents * X-Ray Spex
30.) Universal Corner * X
31.) Hustler * Blatz
32.) Gargoyle Waiting * …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
33.) Persistent Vision * Rites of Spring
34.) Whirling Hall Of Knives * Butthole Surfers
35.) Treat Me Right * The Con Men * Live In-Studio * KWVA Radio
36.) Titanium Expose * Sonic Youth * Goo * DGC Records
37.) Birthday Sandwhich * godheadSilo
38.) Theme * Los Mex Pistols * Unreleased Radio Promo Tape
39.) Runnin’ Through My Bones * Tight Bros. From Way Back When
40.) Ain’t No Woman Gonna Make A George Jones Outta Me * Daniel Johnston *
41.) This Is Radio Clash * The Clash * The Story of The Clash, Volume I * Epic Records
42.) Egg Raid On Mojo * Beastie Boys
43.) Excuse Me, But Pardon My French * Unwound * The Future of What * Kill Rock Stars Records
44.) Balalaika Gap * Camper Van Beethoven
45.) Born To Do Dishes * The Queers
46.) Sidewalk Warrior * Screeching Weasle
45.) Jello Biafra * Wesley Willis
46.) Hangin’ Tough * New Kids On The Block * Hangin’ Tough * Columbia Records
47.) False Start * Bikini Kill
48.) In My Mind * Crimpshrine
49.) Kasimir S. Pulaski Day * Big Black
04.) Tennessee Stud * Jimmie Driftwood * The Wilderness Road * RCA / Victor Records
Over the last year, Mid-Valley Mutations has evolved from a mere idea to a flourishing weekly radio program that features music and live performances you cannot (and will not) hear via other venues. To that end, the program has featured a number of artists from all over Oregon, to highlight some of the incredible experimental acts that are right here in our own back yard, even if you don’t see them play very often. Until now, that is.
To help further the cause, Mid-Valley Mutations is launching a monthly live showcase in conjunction with The Space Concert Club, to give you a chance to actually see these acts, in person. Sunday Service will happen the last Sunday of every month, and offers a wide range of experimental artists that cover every kind of music: electronic, post-punk, noise, deconstructed folk, home-brewed and circuit-bent gear, and everything in-between. “Experimental” can mean almost anything, and our hope is that we can offer small slices of this world, every month.
While the phrase “experimental” can conjure up wild (and often inaccessible) performances, Sunday Service will offer intimate shows with performers who are dedicated to their craft, create art that is personal and meaningful, and would like to share this work with the world around them. While the music may be atypical, the intent is not to be obtuse or difficult. These showcases are presented to feature the beauty and joy in creating music, and the freedom that comes with following your muse, where ever that might be. Sunday Service will not just feature music, but will offer a chance to meet these performers, and find out more about what they do in person. These shows will be curated, organized and hosted by Mid-Valley Mutations mastermind Austin Rich
Our first gathering is March 26th, with the incomparable Guyve headlining the show, playing their first Salem gig in their 24 years as a group. And in April, join us for a rare performance by traveler and recording artist Eric Hausmann, who has called Portland, Ipoh Malaysia and Pittsburgh his home in recent years, . The spring and summer are full of surprises too, and we can’t wait to announce them once they are final.
Sunday Service Showcases are Free to the public, and are 21+. The Space offers a full bar, vegan menu, and a positive, inviting atmosphere for discerning and excellent guests.
Join us for Sunday Service: A Mutation Showcase every month to hear the best in experimental artists you can’t hear anywhere else.
We’ve been waiting for you. Join us.
WTBC Getting Into The Act. It’s ACRONYMs all the way down…
As many of you have probably heard, Bandcamp is donating 100% of their proceeds this Friday to the ACLU, which makes spending money on music that much easier to do. Additionally, KMUZ’s Pledge Drive is very soon, and with that in mind, 100% of the money I make on these same purchases will go to KMUZ’s Drive. Two great causes supported by your single purchase.
You can get the entire bundle of all 21 of our releases at a discount for $16.25. Or, you can pick and choose what you’d like to purchase. Either way, there’s plenty of releases new and old that are worth investing in, and you can support both the ACLU and KMUZ, two acronyms that do a lot of good for our community.
We all love music, and we all love supporting good causes. Here’s a way to do both.
Mid-Valley Mutations is offering bonus episodes on Mondays and Wednesdays of October, for a total of 13 Holiday podcasts. Four of these shows will air on KMUZ, as the shows do normally. (10 PM, Friday nights.) But there are nine gems, hand picked from our 13 years of producing Halloween Radio. This is a chance to hear the many permutations our program has perpetrated, and gives you ample bonus material for that impending holiday party.
You can find all of our holiday entertainment using this handy link: midvalleymutations.com/category/halloween-spook-tacular
Or by enjoying the podcast feed, available in all your local podcatchers of choice.
Happy Holidays, from us, and Mid-Valley Mutations.
Be Seeing You.
KMUZ, like many radio stations depends on listener contributions to continue generate excellent programming. When you make a donation to our station, you are showing how #thankful4KMUZ you actually are, by contributing to a cause that is now been on the air for five years. You can make a donation by going to kmuz.org and following the PayPal links, or by calling 503-990-6601 starting tomorrow – October 1st – and pledging your support to our station – all the way to October 7th.
As part of our usual Pledge Drive, anyone who donates $50 will receive a black KMUZ Mug. Drink coffee in style, and show your support for your favorite community radio station.
For listeners of Mid-Valley Mutations, we like to sweeten the deal. For anyone who makes a donation of any amount to KMUZ, we will give them a digital copy of our new album, Mid-Valley Mutations Vol. 1. This is a collection of some of the live moments from our program since May of this year. This includes live performances by Paco Jones, devils/club, Guyve, Entresol, Entrail & Fiasco, a fine gathering of artists that have all contributed to this program. And all you have to do is make any kind of donation you KMUZ you can afford. I will e-mail you your digital album as a thank you gift for listening to the show.
For contributions of $25 or more, you will get to choose from one of three gifts, curtesy of Personal Archives, No Part Of It & WTBC: Wanting To Be Cool In Beautiful Anywhere, Anywhen, including albums by Thollem, Bob Bucko Jr., Sex Funeral, Illusion of Safety, Arvo Zylo / Dental Work and physical copies of The Shindig Shakedown, a gift that was largely available at Austin’s 40th Birthday Party.
For a contribution of $35 or more, you will get a vinyl copy of the Blood Rhythms Assembly LP, with a hand-made cover. There is a limited number of this LP, so please make your contribution soon.
I could go on and on about how important these Pledge Drives are, so let me just say a few more words. Without listener donations, KMUZ may have trouble paying the rent in the future. We would not only loose all the great shows, but the physical space we use to make all of this happen. This is why we need your money. Radio is loose ground every day, and for us to have made it five years is quite impressive. But to make it much longer, we’ll need money, and we’ll need your support.
If everyone who listens to my program were to contribute even $5, that would be enough to keep Mid-Valley Mutations and KMUZ on the air. Let’s hope that we can raise that much – and more. Make your donation now, and mention that you would like to support Mid-Valley Mutations (and which perk you are interested in). Let’s make radio in the mid-valley powerful again.
For many years now I have been urging friends and family to donate to the radio station I happened to be volunteering at when I made that year’s particular request. And, it is easy enough to see this as yet another plea to add to the many I have made in the past. Combine this with NPR’s regular pledge drive’s, your kid’s trying to raise money for band, the homeless guy that hits you up for change, and you are pretty consistently being asked to donate money to something where you are not getting a nice tasty treat or some new gadget that you can play with.
I understand. You are strapped for cash, and we are thankful that you listen at all. For those of you who are not doing that well, financially, this message is not for you. We urge you to keep listening, and we promise to continue to deliver incredible programming the way we do normally. And, during Pledge Drive, you can expect even more great radio than normal. Everyone goes the extra mile to make great radio during the drive, and this is a great time to listen, no matter what.
But, for those of you with a little extra money, please, consider donating to KMUZ and keep Community Radio funded.
KMUZ’s Winter Pledge Drive is February 6th – 12th, and if you enjoy community radio made in the mid-valley here in Oregon, then we urgently need your help in keeping this station on the air. Not only do I volunteer in the office at KMUZ, but I’m a regular panelist on their Geekly Update program, that airs every Sunday at 2 PM, where we talk about nerdy topics and a host of other subjects that appeal to the nerd and geek in us all. KMUZ also offers a number of great music programs, as well as unique talk shows that you can’t find anywhere else.
Unlike most entertainment, community radio is entirely funded by listeners. No one pays us to come in and do this. No company is coming in every month to keep the lights on. We don’t have wealthy donors to help us stay in business. The only time we get any money is because people like you decide to offer your help directly and give us the financial support that keeps community radio going. There is no well of money beneath our station, and no celebrity philanthropist offering to make our dreams come true. Instead, we turn to the people who count on listening to community, and rely on us to give them shows that they can’t find anywhere else.
These days, between a Netflix subscription, the comic books you pick up weekly, the movie you see with your partner every so often, those expenses add up. We realize that even a small donation is asking a lot. But, consider putting us on your list of expenses, next to Gas and cable. Not only will you be keeping community radio up and running in an area that gets no other funding, but you will be making a difference to the lives of us, our listeners, and the very idea of community radio as a whole.
If supporting KMUZ Radio sounds like something you’d like to do, please consider following this link and make a donation. You can also call us at 503.990.6101 during the drive itself – February 6th – 12th – and support us directly in a way that means so much to those of us who give our time and energy to this kind of endeavor.
Radio has been an important part of my life, so much so that I’ve dedicated the better part of 20 years to it. If you have been touched by any of it, and would like to help out, then this is the way you can do it, now.
Please, donate to KMUZ, and keep Community Radio in the mid-valley on the air.
As a kid, my parents listened to what has come to be referred to as, “Classic Rock” in the radio world. Little did I know that, as I was growing up, this was a relatively new format on radio. I had no knowledge of the history of formats at the time, and couldn’t tell you the difference between AM and FM back then. All I knew was that my parents liked The Who and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and stuff like that, and where we lived, the place to hear that kind of music all day, everyday, was on KZEL-FM, which you could hear just about everywhere in rural Oregon between 1980 and 2000, when I moved out of range of the station.
Not that I listened all the time. I started to loose interest around 1992, when I discovered music that was outside of my parents influence. To me, KZEL was the soundtrack to my childhood. My mom would record her favorite songs off of KZEL broadcasts, and it was the station our cars were always tuned to. Every time there was music on in the yard, or the stereo was blasting and wasn’t playing an LP, the sounds we heard were always KZEL. No other station would do. In fact, my mom won a listener contest when I was in High School, and she got to host a show with some of their DJs as part of the contest. (This led to her interest in, and eventual minor career in radio.) KZEL was where I learned to love listening radio, to ignore the songs and to listen for the DJs and the commercials and other produced bits. It was, through osmosis, my first radio station.
But it played music that, while clearly my parents music, did not speak to me personally. “Classic Rock” is an interesting format, because it was developed around the time that the “Oldies” format came to be (that is, Rock and Roll music from the early ’50s through the early ’60’s). “Classic Rock” itself mostly defined itself as being of music from the late ’60’s through to the early ’80’s, and even then, focused on big acts, well known songs, and music that fell into a particular “70’s Rock” vein. (I used to call it, “Music you can’t drive 55 to,” or, “Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock And Roll”.) “Classic Rock,” by definition, was trying to plant a flag in the ground, staking out the territory for a generation of radio listeners who felt that a very narrow range of sounds and styles spoke to their lifestyle and their interests, and by labeling it “classic” on the radio was stating – for the record – that these songs and bands would last for generations, and would define rock music for the future.
But none of this music really spoke to me as a kid who was 10 in 1985. While I came to know and even appreciate some of the music I heard, it always sounded as if it was out of place, out of time, and of someone else’s childhood. I didn’t understand the excesses of the ’70’s, and in my own childhood, with ’80’s pop culture and my TRS-80 feeding my brain, I didn’t understand the bong-rattling importance of Grand Funk Railroad. I never got to hear much current “popular” music in my house growing up, aside from my mom’s interest in ’80s hair metal and the occasional “new” B.B. King / Eric Clapton release. (And even those are extensions of “classic rock” motifs, that of partying and rocking and finding a good woman that will treat you right, etc.) We grew up with Classic Rock in our heads. Songs like “Smoke On The Water” accidentally became associated with my childhood, in spite of the fact that I was at least 20 years too young to have any idea what that song was about, why it was important, or who the band even was.
Let’s Get Some Of The History Out Of The Way.
The first Classic Rock station was, of course, born out of Cleveland in 1980. Radio had long since been dominant in Cleveland, and many big name DJs had made names for themselves there in the ’50’s and ’60’s, cementing on-air style and patter that was copied by other DJs across the nation. But the fork in the road really happened in the early 1960s, when FM Radio hit the airwaves, leaving the monophonic and “tinny” AM Radio sounding like some archaic dinosaur from the Antique Radio era being tuned in on a crystal set. Stations that had made their name on the AM found themselves competing with the improved fidelity and superior quality of FM, and many stations bought FM signals so they could simulcast their programs and stay competitive.
The FCC eventually mandated that FM stations couldn’t just re-air the same stuff that their AM counterparts were playing, to the distaste and frustration of radio station owners and programmers. This left American with a huge swath of FM stations that had 24 hours a day to fill with new shows and DJs, and being locked out of their tired old AM formats, they had to innovate, fast. In a rush to get programming on the air, DJs were given the chance to have “freeform” and “progressive” formats, something unheard of before 1964. A DJ could play anything, even songs that were not hits, if you can imagine it. The cut that takes up all of side b could finally be played on the radio, where old programming rules would forbid something that wasn’t a nice a peppy four minutes. Freeform and Progressive radio of the mid ’60’s was a place where DJs could really cut loose, and with the improved sound of FM, listeners could really appreciate the music on these records that DJs were playing. FM stations all over the country switched to this new format so they could keep on Rockin’ in the Freeform world.
Of course, station managers hated these changes in the cultural climate. Radio was a very good way to make money in the old days, and the way stations made money was to sell ads against a show that listeners loved. Station managers knew listeners loved the shows because of a consistent format, where the same set of personalities delivered the news at the same times, where hit songs were played in a more or less random order, and where every minute of every hour – including the ad that was being played – was micro-managed. Sure, certain DJs would attract more listeners than others as they became engaging personalities, but that was largely because the DJ was well known over time, or their time-slot was ideal (like, drive-time, or early evening commute.) Using the old way, station managers could guarantee that a show would be successful merely by packing their playlists with hits and guaranteed programming the sponsors could count on. Sooner or later, the advertisers would start calling if they wanted to be associated with a hit show.
The switch to FM and Freeform radio was the first huge fragmentation of the way money was made in the music industry, a kind of disruption that is on par with home cassette recording, or the iPod. Allowing DJs to do whatever they wanted made it difficult for stations for sell advertising they way they were used to it, and old-fashioned radio listeners found the new music that was popular on progressive radio stations to be too “wild” and “strange” for their tastes. (FM comes on the air in the early ’60’s, just in time for the British Invasion and the Garage Rock / psychedelic explosion that followed in its wake, of which DJs loved.) Genre was largely out the window on Freeform stations, yet another difficulty when trying to sell the station to advertisers. While this led to a host of non-commercial, listener-supported stations that enjoyed being contrary to conventional radio standards, Freeform became an f-word in the radio world, especially when it came to money, and when the naiveté of the ’60’s developed into the cynicism of the ’70’s, something had to change again.
First, radio stations lost money. A lot. Most of them cut expenses by laying off staff, reducing the size of their studios, and selling off late-night or early morning broadcasts to run syndicated programs, not as popular or well loved, but at least consistent enough to generate a little dependable revenue. When that wasn’t enough, stations switched to “Album-oriented rock” – or AOR, as it was known at the time. It was clear that rock music was changing yet again, now that singles were no longer the dominant form of music and bands were getting louder, heavier, and raunchier. As new technologies like computers began to take over marketing, Station managers and programmers became enamored with research-based approaches to what they would play on the air.
Taking cues from listener requests and the kinds of information they could gather in each region, stations began to make an effort to find out what music and artists were hits with their own specific listeners, and in some cases ignoring Top 40 trends. Stations began to create playlists and structure their broadcasts around albums that were getting the most traction with their regional audience, which could now be tracked in ways it had never been in the past. Whole albums were now allowed on station playlists, hence, the AOR name, and this generated a whole new generation of stations that each created a unique identity in the minds of listeners. Some stations played lots of Beatles. Some played a lot of Stones. No two stations curated the same kinds of playlists, and station rivalries in competitive regions were common, the way sports rivalries developed between fans.
Of course, a side effect of all these white station managers and white DJs polling their white audiences about the white artists that they loved the most created a huge backlash against the AOR format – now referred to by opponents as MOR: Middle Of the Road. As hard rock and psychedelic trends began to mellow out, you encountered a much “softer” kind of radio in the mid-’70’s, dominated by The Eagles & Fleetwood Mac clones, changing radio from the exciting and “loud” place it once was – hosting Summer of Love concerts and outdoor festivals – to a mellow, relaxing place where listeners could put it on in the afternoon and would barely notice the radio on. It became clear, as black artists were being excluded from any of this, that other kinds of formats were just around the corner.
R&B has always had a rocky relationship with radio before the ’60’s came around, and while Motown and Stax helped improve the image of black music in white America, rarely would a black artist break on the white charts. While some DJs would play black artists – often against station policies – smaller stations near large black populations where the places that played this kind of music, and sometimes, only in very large cities with diverse radio markets. But as Funk music crept into the national consciousness in the ’70’s, it became clear that there was a world of popular music that was largely being ignored by commercial radio, and culture clashes between the old-fashioned radio racism and the changing formats found black artists as pawns in the chess game of radio programming. Stations that were willing to incorporate “acceptable” funk acts that complemented their current sounds were often considered “edgy,” and gained younger audiences.
The ’80’s saw two big artists enter the popular culture that required radio to change. When Michael Jackson and Prince made it clear that the kind of institutional racism radio had been guilty of could no longer be tolerated, radio formats were revolutionized. AOR stations began to die off, as advertisers found the selections to be boring, and generated little business for them. R&B stations were loud and bombastic and fun, began to fill the musical and advertising void that radio had been lacking during the “mellow” years. What few stations were left that needed something new switched to either a talk or country format. (Both talk and country had existed before, of course, but in the ’80’s radio had fractured so much that these became viable format that could actually compete on a scale as big as anything else at the time.)
In the old days, radio had largely been created at the station level, and perhaps some stations would package one of their popular shows as syndicated content, that they could send that to other stations if they wanted to expand their own programming (in those days, the show was a scripted and recorded program). Networks eventually popped up, and these independent stations became associated with a larger network. For many stations, the network was just a different way to get syndicated content; they still created a number of local shows, but they ran some of the big-ticket shows from their parent company (either NBC, ABC, CBS, etc).
The ’80’s saw radio going national in a very big way, and other companies wanted to get into the act, too. New businesses would buy up as many stations as they could, and would generate new syndicated content on a huge scale, making radio sound uniform across the country, but through music formats rather than through specific syndicated shows. A company that excelled in one kind of music – soft rock, for example – would create a cookie cutter playlist format that they could teach to any station, and transfer this to the stations they bought up.
College Radio Stations took the country by storm in the ’80’s, clinging to the freeform idea in spite of the fact it had virtually disappeared nearly everywhere else. And with punk rock and DIY music beginning to build a network of their own, the college stations became the backbone for keeping that music alive in the public’s mind. NPR took of in a huge way in the ’80’s after getting improved funding and more national attention. When all was said and done, it seemed as if the old fashioned rock and roll radio that had been derailed by AOR might come to an end in the ’80’s, and for a while, “Old Time Rock And Roll” seemed out of place in the modern era.
Bringing It All Back.
WWWM 105.7 in the Cleveland was the first station that decided it was time to bring back “Classic Rock” music in early 1980, and that is the year that ’70’s nostalgia officially began. (Sorry Dick Vaughn.) Classic Rock as a format was fairly straightforward: use the lessons of Top 40 and research-based radio, but narrow the focus to albums and artists that encompass music that would appeal to people who had been in High School during the last years of the ’70’s, to some, when “the best” rock music was being made. At the times, this usually included music from the mid to late ’60’s through to the late ’70s, and pretty much nothing else. The emphasis on Rock and Roll of that era served a two-fold function: teenagers who lived through this music were now adults making radio-listening decisions, and this music spoke to nostalgia and adolescent desires that wasn’t being tapped into elsewhere. Secondly, the Classic Rock format was intentionally exclusive; there were no black artists included in this original incarnation of the format. There was no country. There was no talk. There was none of this modern college radio bullshit or that lame jazz crap you hear in cities, just loud guitars and a healthy disrespect for authority. Yes, Classic Rock comes from Cleveland, but it wasn’t that many years later that the format swept the country.
In the ’80s, for the most part, you could tune into a Classic Rock station almost anywhere in the US, and while you would think that the years Classic Rock covered could uncover a huge number of songs to play, usually listeners would hear the same 50 songs being rotated through all day, every day. This was, in many ways, the McDonald’s-ification of radio, where you could go anywhere and hear the same things you were used to hearing back home. This was great for people who traveled a lot, like truck drivers, but left little to the imagination if you wanted to hear a cut from side two, or a song that wasn’t necessarily a classic “hit” in your area. (For example: try finding a single Classic Rock station that will play anything from Led Zeppelin III. Unless that station is doing a “Zeppelin Weekend”, you will never hear any of those songs on the air.)
Need I drive the point home any more, Classic Rock was a coded form of racism on radio in an era that was supposed to be post-racism. It was a way for people who grew up in a sheltered white childhood to pretend that black artists and country music was not part of their musical landscape, and even the lack of news, sports or weather – save for occasional, 15 second updates near the top of the hour – makes a Classic Rock station a perfect way to isolate their listeners in a world that is not difficult or complicated. Here’s another rock song, another twofer-tuesday, another chance for the production manager to edit “I Love Rock And Roll” or “We Built This City” into their station ID. When you listen to Classic Rock, the passage of time is irrelevant.
Now, Let’s Tune In to 96.1 FM in Eugene, OR
This brings us around to the Classic Rock station in question – and the one of which I have the most first-hand knowledge – KZEL. The station that became KZEL was first known as KWFS, which went on the air by the end of the ’40’s. (There had been plenty of radio stations in Oregon going back to the ’20s, but there was a huge surge of new stations in the Eugene area just after WWII.) KWFS continued until the ’60’s, when an FM signal was launched at 96.1. (KWFS almost immediately abandoned AM in favor of the 96.1 signal.) However, the owners of KWFS found managing a station to be too much work, and sold the station in 1967. The new owners changed the call letters to KZEL, and the KWFS call letters were adopted by a new station in Wichita Falls, TX.
KZEL – in its new form – first hit the air that same year, but again, was a bit much to handle as the freeform format wars began to change the landscape of radio. The big competition in those days was Wolfman Jack, which you could hear almost anywhere in the US, and unless local stations got hip, kids would flip over to him at night. By 1971 KZEL changed hands (and formats) again, where the new owners were happy to adopt a progressive format to stay competitive with Wolfman. But the ’70s and early ’80s made it difficult for any station to turn a profit, and many advertisers pointed to the progressive format as part of the problem. (“We like some of the music you guys play, but not all the time.”) In danger of changing hands yet again, in the early ’80’s the station managers at KZEL began to take notice of the Classic Rock sounds coming out of Cleveland. Most of the KZEL staff already loved that kind of music anyway, so almost overnight, KZEL switched to “Oregon’s Classic Rock.”
By the time I was growing up and listening to the station with my parents in the ’80s, they were just like any other station you could hear anywhere that played “Classic Rock”: the same 50 songs, every day, every week, keeping listeners suspended in their High School and College days, just the way the late-Baby Boomers liked it. Of course, I had no understanding of this history, or how the radio I was listening to got to be the way it was. I was just some kid being raised by hippies, and this was the music we listened to in our house.
I received a cassette deck / radio with a built in microphone for my 10th Birthday in 1985, and using that I began recording my favorite songs from the radio onto tapes. Pretty soon I found myself more interested in the commercials, and I began editing together my own voice overs (impersonating my favorite DJs) with my own songs and commercials recorded from KZEL. There were nights when I would have the radio on, quietly in my room, letting the sounds wash over my childhood mind. I would surf stations often too, and listen for a while, but I would always return to 96.1, just like everyone else in my family.
As a regular listener, I started to get familiar with when the hosts would take calls and requests, and once I broke through that barrier, I became a regular on the air. Usually in the afternoon and evenings, and soon I was pretty proud of the fact that I could get my name on a show almost any time I wanted. (I would regularly ask the DJs to give birthday shoutouts to my friends and family, and if nothing else was going on, make a request for my song de jour that day.) Of course, radio stations are notorious for contests, and I was consistently able to win new tapes from these giveaways because I was quick on the phone, and knew their habits well. This is how I discovered Tesla (the band), .38 Special, both of the Use Your Illusion Guns ‘n’ Roses albums, and got my very own Led Zeppelin tapes. But I didn’t listen to the tapes as much as I thought I would, and why not? I could just turn on the radio.
I remember vividly the first time my mom drove me to the station, to pick up an album I had won. There was a well-known commercial for KZEL on TV, where the DJ was running through a maze of LPs to get the next record to the booth in time for the next song, and I absolutely believed that the station must be like that. My mom has thousands of LPs, so it made sense that they would have even more. But arriving at the front counter was a very disappointing experience. All these voices I was familiar with, reduced to flesh-and-blood bodies that were just like everyone else I knew, looking at this gawky kid, they sort of rolled their eyes. A cheap cardboard box was produced, and inside were a ton of cassettes, some mangled from typical radio station neglect. Even though I had specifically won the live Tesla album, the girl at the counter said, “Just take any one you want. There’s plenty in the back.” The fun and mystery of listening at home ruined by the bland reality of fluorescent lights and the work-a-day lives of these people who were just punching a clock. It was a revelation, in a way.
As the years wore on my relationship to this station changed. When I got to High School I started meeting people who listened to modern music, stuff I’d never heard on KZEL, ever, and this music was absolutely fascinating. But this was the early ’90’s, and I wasn’t the only one going through this identity crisis. I remember listening to KZEL one night when one of the DJs mentioned a band that everyone was talking about – Nirvana. The DJ was convinced the song couldn’t be as good as the hype, but decided to play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” anyway. I remember being non-plussed at the time, until I heard the song again, and later, saw the video. By the fourth time I’d heard it, I was hooked, and suddenly anything else KZEL played seemed tame and boring.
I won Nevermind on KZEL in a listener contest, but even when I showed up to get the album, I could tell that my time as a KZEL fan was limited. The girl at the counter laughed when I asked for it, and I could tell they didn’t like the album as much as I did. They would dabble a bit in new music in that year, but the Classic Rock format always dominated in the end. Sooner or later, they would return to a block of The Who songs, and back to their old format. And by then, friends had hooked me up with Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, and my interest in Classic Rock and KZEL was on the way out. I pretty much stopped turning on the radio at all by the time High School was over, and I never heard the station once in the six years I lived there.
In 1997 the Cumulus Media group was formed, and made an effort to buy up as many stations as they could, KZEL being one of them. By this time, I was living on my own, and hadn’t tuned in for years. The Cumulus Group began to popularize the AAA format (adult album alternative), a new iteration of Classic Rock that included all the old “heavy” albums, with “new rock” hits from the “alternative” era. (A lot of stations call this format “New Rock.”) This made sense; as demographic groups age out of listening to their father’s rock and roll radio, the younger groups have different tastes that need accommodation, too. And let’s face it, “alternative” music is absolutely the Classic Rock of Generation X. Essentially, the same kinds of people are listening to KZEL now than they did then, just with a slightly different 50 song playlist and a bigger chance of having a Soundgarden tattoo.
And why not? Radio has often been for the middle class, and there is a who swath of bros who are looking for something to get pumped up for as they try to remain comfortable with being in their 40s. They want the music that spoke to them in High School to insulate them in a place where they understand what “cool” and “hip” is. New music is scary and hard to find, and it is much easier to ignore the culture and the world around you when it doesn’t make sense to you. Coded in two levels removed from the racism it once was, Gex X Gym Rats can listen to very while music in their small towns and never have to question the way they fell about it, ever.
It isn’t that The Cumulus Media Group is trying to be horrible. They’re trying to make money, and that is largely the motivation behind any tired old ineffectual dinosaur clinging to the radio dial like some monster from a bygone age. But even the remotest scent of that kind of radio turns me off, instantly, and these days I’m looking to the generation after mine to hopefully clue me into something that doesn’t feel old fashioned and too “white.” But even I fall into this trap; I listen to music with guitars and live drums and it is hard to think of Black Flag or Bad Brains as anything other than “quaint” when you think of the brutal music that kids like these days, or the electronic harsh noise that is also available. And I’m still trying to break the color barrier in my own collection, as I have noticed an abundance of while men among my 12 Inches.
But at least I’m aware of the problems inherent in my playlists.
When I was a kid, I never thought that the music I was immersed in was boring. It was the music I was immersed in. It WAS music. But now that I can see it from outside, and see it for what it is, I’m glad I moved on.
I’m just wondering how much longer the vestiges of Classic Rock Radio will need before they move on, too.
Here’s a radio special from six years ago, addressing the rarely-discussed subject of Groundhog’s Day, or in some cases, music about Hogs, the ground, and shadows. In this show, we ask the question: where have all the Groundhog songs gone? This one won’t pop up in the podcast feed, but as always, you can either stream or download this one to your heart’s content.
I was absolutely shocked at how little Groundhog music there was to play for this show. Any musicians out there looking for something to write about, now’s your chance! This holiday is largely unclaimed, and you could be the one to release the very first Groundhog Day Rock Record.
About halfway through the program I offer a rambling and disjointed history of Groundhog Day. Most of the information was culled from several passes over the Inter-Web-A-Tron, so it’s as reliable as anyone else is these days.
I have always had a fascination with holidays like this, and when I was growing up I really felt the need to celebrate as best as I could in whatever way relevant. I was the kid who was planting a tree on Arbor Day, coloring images or our President’s on President’s Day, and reading about the various ceremonies surrounding Flag Day. But with control over the weather, Groundhog Day seemed absolutely magical as a kid.
The irony of Groundhog Day is that it is intentionally set six weeks before the official start of Spring, a sort of joke played on kids who really think the groundhog is special. But there is something nice about being forward thinking in that respect anyway. After a long winter, we sometimes need a little prognostication regarding what is ahead of us, if for no other reason than to feel that we at least know when we’ll see the sun again. Given our atypical weather this year in Oregon, and the drought last year followed by a mind winter, I can only imagine that the next six weeks will actually be cold anyway, to finally deliver the winter we deserve.
But I’ll be happy just to know the little guy popped out of his hole for a moment or two.
[Insert weather report.] If you want to know how things turned out in your area, here’s a very handy website.
Anyway, enjoy this program from the past, and hopefully you are excited about your particular weather report this year.
Post-Groundhog Day Special!
(This podcast and essay was originally posted on 21 January 2013. At the time, I worked for Portland State University, and got MLK Day paid off.)
I have always taken for granted the holiday that we take in January to honor Martin Luther King Jr. It was not that I didn’t care, but that the day usually came when papers were due, or when I worked a job that already required me to work that day. But in light of my new job, getting the day off – paid – felt a little weird. I had to be honest with myself that I had never really listened to any of MLK’s speeches all the way through, and that I knew very little about the work he did other than the most general, basic sense.
So today’s radio blast is a bunch of stuff culled from my collection of audio that relates to MLK Jr. I have an edited cut-up of his last speech, and a radio broadcast from just after his assassination, as a way of presenting some of what I discovered in actually doing some research of this amazing and incredible man.
I do not have any great epiphanies to share with you, and there is no great revelation at work in this show. It seems very clear that, as he delivered this speech, he knew his days were numbered, but this seems to be the case leading up to his assassination. I think the arrangement in this little mini-cast works to reveal why he was considered to be one of the best orators of our day, but also to illuminate much of what his work was about in the most basic and general sense possible.
For those who stay to the end: there’s a little joke to ease the tension of such a serious subject.
I urge all of you to listen to his speeches, read up on this man, and let yourself actually understand the value of this holiday. So much of what happens to us seems so passive, and we let days pass without reflecting on them too often. This time, stop for a moment to consider who this man was, and what effect he had on the world around us.
And: let’s hope you MLK Day was full of the promise and wonder that every new days brings us.
Be seeing you
I’ve Been to the Bemsha Mountaintop
01.) (What Did I Do To Be So) Black & Blue [Excerpt] * Louis Armstrong * Say It Loud: Celebrate Black History Month & Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
02.) “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” [Excerpts] * Martin Luther King Jr. * 3 April 1968
02.) Bemsha Swing * Thelonious Monk * Say It Loud: Celebrate Black History Month & Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
03.) Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated * Bill Kurtis * We Interrupt This Broadcast * 4 April 1968
Every Sunday at 2 PM on KMUZ.
One of the first things I searched for when my wife and I hit upon the idea of moving to Salem was local radio, and I remember in those early days when I found KMUZ online. It took a while for us to get our marriage and our life in Salem sorted out, and thus my involvement with KMUZ has been only a recent development. I haven’t done a whole lot of mentioning of it (save for a passing reference in the last NewsZine), as I’m still the low guy on the totem pole, but I have been recently adopted by the team at Geekly Update, and have appeared on two recent episodes.
For those who haven’t listened yet, Geekly Update is a panel / talk show format program where guests and hosts talk about all of the topics-de-jour that are of interest to the nerdy and nerdy-adjacent. Comics, novels, movies, TV, music, and anything that comes close to something you would find in your comic collecting friend’s house is covered on the show, and they’ve been going strong for a while. Jason Ramey & David Duncan are the primary hosts, and run the show on alternating weeks. The guests vary from week to week, but some recurring characters appear every week.
I will be archiving my appearances on this program over at AnywhereAnywhen.com, using my newly minted Geekly Update Feed. In an episode from 27 December 2015, we gave an overview of the things we enjoyed from 2015. In an episode from 3 January 2016, we talked about various pieces of culture and whatnot that we are looking forward to in the coming year. (I had to phone in for the second show, as the roads were too icy for us to drive in for the show that day.) I should mention that there was no show on the 10th due to host illness, but I will be back on the 17th, certainly, and hopefully Jason won’t still be sick.
I have been wanting to launch a talk show of my own for some time, and some out there may remember the original incarnation of A Momentary Lapse of Reason was focused on talk. (That is, until Miss Rikki & I turned the show into a collage-based sort of dadaist presentation.) But even that show was not going to have the kind of spirited conversation that we’ve had on these shows. Plus, the subject matter is something that I’m passionate about, but don’t really have an outlet for at the time. As someone with thousands of comics in my basement, I feel bad that I never address that part of my life. Hopefully now I can.
So, make sure to tune in on Sundays, at 2 PM. It’s a good time to listen live, and there will be a podcast either later that day, or by Monday at the latest. Geekly Update. It’s something new I’m involved in, and I’d love it if you listen.
The incredible thing about living in the 21st Century is that we have access to information and media of which our early 20th Century counterparts could never dream. Not only taking into account monoliths like Apple who entirely changed how everyone consumes information in the modern era, but just the access to factoids that would be difficult to source even 10 years ago. We now live in the future, as difficult as that may be to fully process. Case in point: at any given moment I can listen to digital transfers of Edison Wax Cylinders, watch The Avengers on a massive screen, text a friend of mine in Istanbul, and take 1000 pictures of a cat sitting next to me, all through devices that are middle class mundanities in this modern world. The future, indeed.
As a media junkie, I’m always looking for new things to absorb, and with my mind on the very problem of and created by modernity, I stumbled across a CBC Radio broadcast of a program called “The Wire,” and the seeds of this show were first sewn. Our relationship with music today is entirely born out of music’s relationship with electricity, something that goes back to the end of the 1800s. As early pioneers discovered ways to capture music – an experience that, previously, required the listener to be in the same room with the performer – music entered a new kind of simulacrum, where mechanical objects were standing in for the real performance and “playing back” these sounds. Obviously, Edison is one of the movers and shakers in this revolution, but that is not to say that he was the only person fixing sounds to some object in space. However, his work set the template for the record industry that was to come, and in that sense, he is very relevant. Electricity is now married to music in a way that seems inseparable to the modern ear, and yet is in no way apparent when you are turning on a streaming service to help pass the time.
The idea for my particular punny spin goes back to 2011, when I first began to flirt with the “History Lesson” concept. I had done a number of shows where I was getting more and more experimental with the editing thanks to my interest in Negativland and Over The Edge, and in some ways my show from the very beginning was about de-contextualizing recordings against music and other forms of audio, but with a “radio” sensibility to the presentation. (I was, of course, still on the air.)
In 2011 I expanded the scope of these audio essays to a four-hour, two-part broadcast called “Before ’75,” briefly covering as much material as I could about the earliest days of the pre-punk music scene. However, I always felt as if that show was not enough. Four hours covered a ton of music, a number of artists, and included a lot of really good interviews and samples that drove the point home. But the beginning felt lacking. I always thought that, if you logically extend the story back further, punk rock only really has context if you tell the story that came before it. Act I of punk rock is the merger of electricity with music; distorted guitars and DIY cassette releases need the first 70+ years of music history to make their revolution son incredible. I immediately envisioned a new, bigger and grander idea for “History Lesson.” Let’s really take the listeners back to the beginning.
As we roll back the tape to the end of the 19th Century, the state of music was merely that of being in the same room as a music source: a performer. From there, we move forward through acoustic recording techniques with Edison, the major difference microphones had on the sounds you could record, and along the way present music that complements the story while driving the narrative from time to time. Later, we discuss the impact recorded music had on the film industry, and enter a discussion about how these factors lead to the birth of radio itself, a pastime so near and dear to my heart.
At this stage in the program we switch our audio samples over to another very different documentary, “The Empire of The Air.” This Ken Burns documentary of PBS covers the story of Radio through three men, interestingly enough glossing over Marconi, and omitting Tesla entirely. (For shame.) However, it does a good job of drawing a parallel to Edison and his relationship with recorded music: not only do the pioneers of radio develop amazing technology, they are setting the course for how radio would act in the public for generations to come.
And, along the way, there is music to help tell the story. And what a story it is.
Happy Holidays From WTBC Radio
Free in iTunes: bit.ly/WTBCHolidayiTunes
Or Another Podcatching Device Using: bit.ly/WTBCHolidayMemories
With December in full swing, and with the holidays on everyone’s mind, it’s always a challenge to find something to listen to that isn’t the usual holiday fare, but is still on point. In the tradition of TVLand re-running all their Christmas Episodes of classic shows between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Our “Holiday Memories” podcast feed features all of our Holiday Programming, going back to 1998.
In this feed you’ll find every Holiday-Themed show I’ve done, and great shows by Ricardo Wang, DJ Victrola, and Miss Rikki. We promise that you will not get your usual Holiday fare when you tune in to these vintage retrocasts that are the perfect cure for too much Burl Ives.
So, fire up a few Yule Log videos and enjoy hours and hours of holiday programming that rocks a little more than your average “X-Mas Show.”
WTBC Radio, In Beautiful Anywhere, Anywhen.
Now Open For The Holidays.
(Or, Maxwell, Morse, Hertz, Branly, Popov, Poulsen, Edison, Stubblefield, Fessenden, Monkeyface, Marconi and how!)
by Austin Rich
The story of the 20th Century is, in many ways, the story of the nerd. In the early 1900s, the train was technological revolution, and steam-powered printing presses saw a proliferation of newspapers and magazines in a way that allowed for quick and direct communication, at a time when prices dropped so low enough for anyone who could read to have access to the very ideas of the entire modern world. As communities slowly formed around these new technologies and forms of communication, the first attempts to connect the planet with phone lines was also underway. Electricity was in the air, and the stage was set for the real nerds to plan the next revolution that would radicalize the country and change culture forever: music & radio.
Nerds played a muted role in the world around us in those days. Inventors have been at the core of the world’s evolution, one piece at a time, as Mr. Cash would later say. Academics cloister themselves much like monks, emerging with a new form of math or a new insight in geology, or a different take on roots rock. Explorers forge new paths and return with artifacts, or new albums that will blow our minds. The nerds changed the way our lives were lived, day to day. Once electricity was the plaything of inventors, it was a race to find the things that this new discovery could bring to the world around us. To this end, people gathered in their sheds, their kitchens, their bedrooms, and at their desks, reading about this and experimenting with that.
Isolated, alone, immersed in new research & cutting edge technology, the late 19th Century gave rise to the modern nerd in the form of inventors. Before long, these nerds would develop a new form of communication that makes The Magazine seem quaint and old-fashioned: Radio.
Electricity, and what could be done with it, was starting to become old news, and even hobbyists were more interested in bigger things. With all the benefit this wired gear was getting us, the ideas of wireless – the properties of electricity in a form that was not contained in wires – still seemed absolutely fantastic. Wireless was an old notion, and had been floated well before light bulbs and telephones, but where it had been fantasy up until the late 1800s, now it was a Sci-Fi concept that absorbed the imaginations of many young inventors as they toiled in their workshops. The stage was set.
This is the story of Radio. Of enthusiasts who wanted to shape the future and had visions that many Americans were not yet able to imagine. As we continue our journey through these stories, what stands out to me is the solitude of these pioneers. Much like their modern counterparts, there were those who felt cut off and isolated from the world at large. Having few peers who understood their dreams and passions, these inventors spent endless hours at their desks, imagining the world and future as interpreted through books and magazines. The story of radio is as much technological breakthrough as it is mythology, hype, and marketing, performed by amateurs, hoping to make it big. In this way Radio and Internet have so much in common, and the way they each describe themselves is eerily familiar.
Presently, Radio is a quaint innovation, something that seems obvious and old fashioned, a relic of an era that must be buried in some physical book from the ancient past. But the impact Radio had on the world cannot be understated. In the first 20 years of the 20th Century, Wireless Telegraphy went from the stuff of pulp novels to a service that offered incredible communication over great distances. By 1930, Crystal Radio Sets were available to hobbyists in stories across the country. By 1940, regular broadcasts could be heard everywhere, all day, every day. Within the lifetime of my grandmother, she moved from a world devoid of instantaneous communication, to a world completely transformed by fireside chats and baseball games beamed straight into her home, all via a new piece of furniture that looked smart, too.
I can only equate it to being exposed to the blinking cursor on the TRS-80 I received for Christmas in 1987. Try to put in mind a paradigm shift of that proportion, and imagine how absolutely radical it must have been for those who understood the implications. I cried when I encountered that cursor, as I hacked out my first piece of BASIC code, trying to let sink in what this new reality afforded me. If Electricity was the rock and roll of our conception of the world, radio was punk rock, spreading ideas far and wide in a dangerous way that electricity could never dream.
As important as the story of electricity is, along side it is the story of radio, and both are so entwined with each other that they are essential to each other’s stories.
In addition to more excepts from Ken Burns “Empire of The Air” documentary, I also turned to 90 minute recording by Ben Brooks, “The First 50 Years of Radio,” something I found on one of my rabbit hole dives through a link slog. Ben was a radio & TV columnist for the New York Daily News, and Brooks helped assemble this recording to celebrate the November 1970 anniversary of the first broadcast of KDKA, one of the oldest radio stations in the United States. You’ll be hearing more from this documentary as this series progresses.
Now, let us get into this week’s history lesson.
Get Ready. It’ll Take You A Little While To Listen Through This.
This isn’t really news to fans and listeners of the show. Even before it was clear that Over The Edge might be in some kind of danger, word had gotten out that Negativland was working on this project, in association with archive.org. And what a perfect match, really? Over The Edge is, in every sense, is a sprawling audio soundscape that builds in scope and momentum when viewed in larger and larger chunks. The show rewarded long term listening, and took on an impressive volume when thought of over months, years, and then decades, even. It was very much the creative ‘Life Work’ of DJ – Don Joyce to friends and family.
To sit, face to face with almost 1000 broadcasts by this radio enthusiast evokes the kind of awe that a listener can have when they sit down to listen to even one of Don’s shows.
And this was certainly the relationship a listener could have if they stumbled across the program late at night in the Berkley area. Competing voices all speaking at once, cutting back and forth, with a – Booper? What’s that? – punctuating a rare Bob Dylan track. That voice – The Weatherman? Who? – reads out the phone number. Then Don – feigning any number of characters, most recently Izzy Izn’t – would come on.
“You’re listening to Over The Edge. Tonight: Universe.” And a panoply of sounds would assault your senses, taking you on a journey no other show even considered pursuing.
While Over The Edge goes back to 1981 – and there are recordings of parts of shows from that era – what is left unsaid in a project like this is the career in radio that Don had already enjoyed for almost 20 years before, much of it undocumented. As seen in this photo from the archives of RISD (1966), Don was once a young man, as it turns out, but his passion for radio went back to the beginning.
Rumor has it that he could edit commercials on tape better than nearly anyone else who ever worked with him, and he took that skill with him to KPFA, where he claimed to do a “normal music show” as a volunteer, most likely offering his tape editing skills in the Production room. (And, knowing Don’s taste, it is hard to imagine that even a late ’70’s Don would skew anything toward “normal” when it come to a music show.) It is sad, then, to think that the years where he build up his career, his attitude, his persona, and – dare I say – his creative outlook, are not available in the same way that OTE is. Access to that kind of archive would give us the kind of perspective on this project that we can only surmise.
But even in measuring it’s deficiencies, what a body of work it is, to be sure. It is very clear, from the 6 July 1981 show that starts out the collection, that something crystalized for Don when Negativland came into the KPFA studio, like a post-modern traveling vaudeville show, with instruments and home-brewed gear, tape loops and other oddities which were all a part of their stage show. As Don faded DOWN the LP (that was the source almost every other DJ in the world used), and faded UP these sound sculptors who each had their own collection of audio devices, Don realized that the studio is an instrument as much as anything else these artists around him were using.
Steeped in collage and dada throughout his upbringing, Don saw an entire future ahead of him where the radio show was the painting, and drips and drabs of audio that he and his guests would paint with could be doled out – over years, if possible – to create a dadaist soundscape that stretched on in a narcotic sort of audio experience over a long period of time. A cut-and-paste-drone was what Over The Edge specialized in during the early ’80’s, dubbed “culture jamming” in ’84 so Don could align his work with the other kindred spirits who were working in Billboard defacing or with the Church of the SubGenius.
The shift in the style of radio Don created was immediate and dramatic. While music weaves its way into Don’s show throughout the entire 30+ year run, it is now just another audio source – to be manipulated and chopped up like anything else, use to serve the larger function of The Mix, which could contain any number of audio sources as it built its layered sound. The Mix, an elusive state of audio presentation where the narrative of the listening experience is augmented through the addition, subtraction, re-mixing, or manipulation of sound sources to accentuate the other audio sources in an almost Musique concrète sort of form. Sometimes, like in Jazz, you had to go against the beat, and mix against The Mix. Other times, a violation was forbidden. Don tried every sort of variation over the run of OTE in an effort to find out how far you could take The Mix, chasing themes and ideas over three our chunks, week after week. Hundreds of hours of shows, all pursuing hundreds of ways this aesthetic could be presented, all toying with the idea that it still had to somehow present as radio, that it couldn’t just be be completely impenetrable.
At least, not for very long, anyway.
Take it all in. No matter where you start, no matter how you try to consume it, this is more than you can fathom all at once. 34 years of radio. Week after week. Three to five hours at a time. And now, gone. Nothing new.
It adds up. How can this be?
On the last morning of my camping-trip bachelor party, I was weeping for Don Joyce at a campfire in the early morning. I had been drinking hard for a few days in a row by then, at this lovely riverside campsite. I had left my house having just listened to the “There Is No Don” before I left for the woods, where I would be without technology or phones until Monday morning. And so, with little sleep and very hungover, I poked a fire and cried, nursing a cup of cold coffee, trying to imagine a future without Over The Edge.
It seemed too big. Too Much. Like there just wasn’t a way that I could process it all without it feeling overwhelming. The show has been so much a part of my life since the mid ’90’s – when I discovered it – that it not only nudged me in the direction of radio myself in 1998, but became something that I could check in with, every week, to either help put me to sleep, or give me something to listen to through insomnia and drunken stupors. For almost 20 years I’d been listening, as a fan, collecting the CD releases, downloading the shows when the started to get traded online. I was, by no means, a hardcore fan. I mostly listened to podcasts and digital recordings after 2004. I don’t even live in the area that it was broadcast, so I didn’t have a lot of friends who also tuned in, and it was hard to meet people who also did, even after the Inter-Web-A-Tron was a daily reality. I just tuned in when I could, and enjoyed the strangeness of a three to five hour mix.
To this day I have the experience of hearing a piece of audio in a completely different context, and I finally realize where Don got a sample that he had been playing for years and years on OTE. The show had become such an important part of who I was, that I had to start explaining Over The Edge to people when I was describing my own program. As recently as June of this year I was writing another journal entry along the lines of, “Why aren’t people talking about Over The Edge as often as they should?”, a line of thinking that I very much regret given the proximity to his death a month later.
I’ve started and stopped several pieces and essays about Don, because I do want to eulogize him in some capacity, but really, how can I effectively encompass his influence on me without just sounding like I’m going through the motions? Over The Edge was one of the first things I searched for when I first had access to the Internet in 1994, having read about it in the liner notes to my copy of the Escape From Noise LP I’d picked up. Negativland quickly became my favorite band, but more pointedly, Don’s radio show – a part of and reflection of the ideas of Negativland – of which I was the real fan.
A cursory listen to my style of radio program and the influence is obvious, and I sample (and re-sample) OTE with a fair consistency, if not in exact audio samples, then in the ideas. I have a more Wavy Gravy / style approach, for sure, but radio is as much mix tape as it is performance. Nonetheless, what I’m sad about is the opportunity to hear a new episode, to hear Don get cranky about something, to hear him spar with Suicide Man, to listen to a new bumper that Don’s incorporating into the larger story, and – of course – a Mix that does something I’ve never heard before.
And I’ve heard the last of the new ones.
So it’s a good thing there are hundreds of old ones to check out, now, for sure.
Here’s An Excerpt From My Journal, Written July 27th In The Notes Photographed Above.
“For my entire adult light, Don Joyce has been a voice in my head. There were two influences on my interest in radio: Pump Up The Volume and Over The Edge. The more like OTE I could get my own radio show the better I thought it was, and only occasionally have I produced something I thought was OTE worthy. Once one of Don’s shows was broadcast, I would tear through the recording to hear what he’d done this time. His aesthetic so influenced me that I started saying “Good Hello” in all my correspondence, and would pinch his jokes at bars and late at night on the air. I only ever saw him once, in Portland for an It’s All In Your Head show in 2006. I was too nervous to approach him, but I sat as close as I could and watched his every move, even though there was little to see from the audience. Most were there to see Negativland. I was there for him.
“Over 20 years I so fully integrated him into my life that I actually can’t believe he is gone. Like The Ramones & Johnny Cash, I assumed he would be on Thursday Nights until the end of time. I had no idea he was even old, let alone at any risk of passing, even though I’d seen pictures of him for most of my life, too. People Like Us tipped me off. I had missed the July 17th OTE, had it on my phone but was saving it for when I had a weekend afternoon, where I could put it on and listen. But her Friday show was on, and she suggested Don was not well. I registered the thought, but it didn’t sound serious. I imagined that he had a cold or something, and she was worried.
“I woke up at 4 AM Thursday morning, 23 July. Out of curiosity I checked to see if I could find any news about the show that night, that maybe it would be an extra-long Puzzling Evidence, and that he might be on the week after. But I couldn’t find anything obvious with the usual searches. Then, I found a cryptic reference to his death on Wikipedia, but the user (named: Jerkey) who had made the edit seemed unreliable. I posted a general query among my friends, hoping for more reliable news that was more upbeat. But after almost five hours of wondering, around 9:17 AM an official statement from the band came out. Don had, indeed, passed. I started crying at my desk at work, and immediately put on the OTE from the 17th.
“Don Joyce was a very unique voice in the world of radio. His friends & colleagues in Negativland admitted that even in the 30+ years of knowing him, they knew little of his life outside of the art he produced and the work he did with them, to which he seemed 100% dedicated. His work spanned more than the career on the air. Don made elaborate paper collages, wrote long and clever essays about culture using his own brand of cut-and-paste wordplay, created magnificent razor tape edits of precise and hilarious quality, encouraged artists that participated in circuit bending and collage by featuring them prominently on his program, and created a cast of fleshed-out characters, each with their own backstories and personalities, all of which played out multi-part dramas – on his program – often with him voicing all of them, both live and on tape. And, occasionally, when time would allow for it, he would participate in Negativland, for almost until he stopped touring with them in 2010, when he stopped only because he wanted to focus all of his energies on the radio program.
“His dedication to art – to chasing this creative dragon to the bitter end and finding where it might take him if he would just let the tape play – became an inspiration that I cannot fully process, and may never be able to. You can tell a Don Joyce Mix when you hear one. You know his transitions and his work, like a tape-splice fingerprint. I can only say that, in absence of him making new ones, all other mixes – especially my own – will only be a sad reflection of something he just did 100% better.”
So, Where In The Hell Should I Even Start, Then?
Good question. It’s nearly impossible to bite off a chunk of audio like this without some kind of guidance, and the knowledge up front that you can’t possibly listen to it all. But, you can certainly try. If I’m serious about recommending that you should devote even three hours to this program (the average length of a “short” show), then I should at least be able to make some recommendations, if not specifically, then at least generally. Yes, the beauty of this project is the 941 options you have when you sit down to try and listen to a little Over The Edge.
The problem with recommending Over The Edge is that what made the show great was the spontaneous nature of the program. Don incorporated what he called Receptacle Programming, where he would Mix in callers, who would each offer audio in their own forms. (Don made a habit of reminding listeners, “Don’t say Hello.”) Callers could be talkers (Suicide Man usually wanted to wax poetic) or sending their own audio via the phone, giving OTE a wide range of sounds and styles. Shows would veer in new directions unexpectedly, and when The Mix was really good, the callers would start to fall into a rhythm, too. But remembering which one had good callers in next to impossible, as Don refused to do more than the barest archiving when it came to his shows.
And, while true that Don pursued impressive and wonderful themes that ran for long periods of time, it was often the in-between shows that were unexpected that were the most impressive, where Don would take the bits left over from the week previous and nudge his own mixing toward a new and different theme. The entire nature of these shows is that they go largely unnoticed, lost to their supposed un-remarkableness. These qualities – so much a part of the show as anything else – are the less tangible things that I can recommend. Keep in mind that listening to Over The Edge is a dreamy, psychedelic experience by design. It’s going to sounds spacey no matter what, because that is the point.
Which all of that in mind, here are 10 places to start, to see if you even like what Don does in the first place. I’ve provided links for the most part, but keep in mind that If you enjoy what you hear, then keep on digging. The “Search This Collection” link over here not only allows you to come up with your own random criteria for listening to Over The Edge – a method we highly recommend – but also allows you to track down new stuff as you find out more about the program.
All Art Radio (1988 – 2011): A favorite subject of Don’s was Art, and any chance he could get his hands on audio regarding the subject, Don would (and could) go on for hours. The only subject to dominate more of Over The Edge‘s broadcast episodes is that of UFO’s, but Don approaches the subject of art with a sort of fervor that few others could match, so much so that his persona – Crosley Bendix, Cultural Reviewer and Director of Stylistic Premonitions for the Universal Media Netweb – took over a number of shows, where he would discuss this or that arcane aspect of art that is usually not seen as “art,” so to speak. Over The Edge was Don’s art project, and he was so much a student of the world of art that it was a subject he loved to return to.
Another UFO (1988 – 2013): Don was a huge fan of Art Bell and he work on Coast To Coast, but more importantly, the world of UFOlogy was a pastime of the everyman, something that sophisticates gave no attention to. This dream-like game of telephone that abductees would participate in – and then relate on the air for the entire world to hear – was ample fodder for Don’s critical re-mix skills. It is hard to say if Don is really a believer, or if he thinks it is interesting to play the part of a believer, but he approached the subject of UFOs and collage time and again, and often for his longer, five-hour shows, and in some ways, attracted his own Bell-like fans due to his dedication to the subject.
Moonrock Footnotes (1997 – 2001): The closest thing to a “serial” Don created for Over The Edge, “Moonrock Footnotes” was a series of broadcasts by Wang Tool, for the residents of the mining colony on the moon, which then becomes a “tool” in the revolt against the company that owns the mining colony. The story is a little hard to follow, and is sort of beside the point in that we’re only hearing the broadcasts surrounding the narrative, anyway. Still, this story somehow ties into the other ongoing story involving C. Elliot Friday, and which was the subject of one of their CD releases. If you like convoluted, political sci-fi “story” oriented broadcasts, this is the place to start.
Christianity Is Stupid (1991) / It’s All In Your Head (2002 – 2005) / Your Brain Is God (2011 – 2012): Don was a vocal atheist, and felt that the preponderance of religious radio (and the lack of the opposing viewpoint) was a serious problem in our culture. He came back to the subject of religion as something to lampoon over and over again. The earliest broadcast – “Christianity Is Stupid” – is a three-hour talk show that debates religious and does not do any collage work, and purports to be the new format of the program the entire time. “It’s All In Your Head” / “Your Brain Is God” are series dedicated to audio juxtaposition of religious radio mixed with the very simple notion that all religion is, in fact, all in your head, and is not based on any fact. For those who are not intellectually-minded, these can be difficult shows to listen to, but were absolutely a part of Don and his worldview, and are a window into who he was.
How Radio Was Done (2006 – 2009): This sprawling, 106 part series covers the story of radio from its inception in the late 1800s, and then moves forward, year by year, to offer samples of radio from those periods in time. This is the point where Don began to really want to push the long-form idea of Over The Edge, and this series was an effort to top another long-running series that took up almost a year and a half prior to this. Where different series would be returned to over the 30 year run of Over The Edge, to run with one theme for three solid years was an impressive feat at the time, and it was exciting to listen to these shows as they were coming out.
The Universe (2013 – ): Don’s final series was, as far as any of us fans were concerned, going to be the last series he ever did, but we envisioned it lasting for a decade or so, to make the point that you could do something like that. However, he only got to episode 91, with a number of tangents and other thoughts mixed in throughout those last couple years. These shows are very open, with lots of music – uncut or edited – played with long passages about space. Very atmospheric, and a great end-run for his program, no matter how you look at it.
What’s About The 60’s? (2013 – 2014): The subject of “The ’60’s” as a whole, monolithic entity, came up often on Over The Edge, and this series-within-a-series was not only emblematic of the kind of regular digressions his show would take, but it was the subject that seemed to be the most informative on his personality and perspective. Don was always very much of “now,” and his program always pushed forward, but it was easy enough to reflect on “The ’60’s,” only because it was influential, and not just on him.
The All Nordine Show (2001): If you like Ken Nordine, and his own radio experimentalism of word jazz, then imagine Don Joyce remixing for three hours Ken Nordine broadcasts and recordings. It is a pleasure, boggles the mind, and evokes the William S. Burroughs dictum of cut-n-paste in the most specific and demonstrable way possible. I love this show.
Any Episode w/ The Weatherman. The Weatherman is a character in and of himself, and as Negativland continued in the future, he (unfortunately) retreated more and more to a world of agoraphobia and cleanliness. However, when he is on the show, his strangeness and the recordings he brought to the group – including his very distinctive voice that lights up any reading of dry text – is a part of the overall aesthetic of Over The Edge that graced shows spanning the entire run of the program.
Any “Dick” Episodes: Goodbody / Vaughn / Pastor. Richard Lyons is not only another oddball that Negativland picked up in their early years, but his own work as a prankster is something that has run hand-in-hand with Negativland’s – and Don’s – career. More importantly, Richard could maintain a character for hours at a time, making him a good person to bring into the studio for live radio. Richard collected a number of – ahem – Dicks that he would bring to the show, pretending to be a church Pastor, a used car dealer, and most dramatically, a radio DJ that, “invented ’70’s nostalgia.” Dick episodes are heavy on broadcast mistakes, behind-the-scenes accidents getting on-the-air, and call-in contests that often go horribly horribly wrong, all to comic effect.
Here’s a few further comments while I’m winding down:
For the sake of your sanity, chronological seems the wrong way to go about this bounty, even if that is the one I’ve used to far. The first three episodes are “exceptions,” and incomplete in one way or another. The first complete show in the archive – “Advertising Secrets” from 1983 – gives you a sense of what OTE will eventually become, and while the pieces are present, everything sounds like it might later, it is a little looser, and the form isn’t quite what it would become.
However, it is hard to recommend just dipping in here and there. When you start to skip around you feel like you missed something, something that you couldn’t actually retrieve with a chronological re-listen anyway. Not only is the archive itself incomplete, but the way the show was meant to be heard was to be stumbled up while tuning the dial. It wasn’t designed to “start from the beginning.”
On top of that, most of the early shows were recorded on tape, using humans to push “record” and “stop” when the show was over. Bits and pieces are missing here and there, and it wasn’t until quite a while into the series that it was being adequately archived. It is this incompleteness that is the ultimate sadness, and the renewable joy that is at the heart of this archive. You will never hear it all, never ever ever, but you can try and chase down the same sounds that Don was if you would like to try, and for a while, you’ll get a sense of what it was like to tune in, Thurday at midnight, and into the wee hours of the morning, hearing something you would never hear anywhere else.
Vyacheslav was 16 at the onset of WWII, when he immediately joined and fought for the Red Army, and was decorated for his service, twice: the Order of the Red Star and the “For Courage” Medals. Growing up on a soviet farm, he was happy to serve his country, and came out of the war a few years older & wiser, a well respected member of his community.
Using skills he picked up in the military, he became a radio and electronics repairman back home, where he would tinker and futz with the equipment he would pick up in his town, and help everyone make sure they could tune in to the Farm Report. Vyacheslav had an interest in compositional music and modern composers, but western pop and dance music began to catch his interest, in spite of his dedication to his home country. This eventually led to him getting a job as an engineer for the music department of the State Radio in early 1957. He would help with the equipment, record music for broadcast with the gear and performers available, and create the radio ecosystem that the Russian people would experience through his work. Their budget was huge in spite of their non-existent “pay,” but his studio was top of the line, with new electronic keyboards and gear that would put American studios to shame.
Vyacheslav loved his new job, but it wasn’t until 4 October 1957, when he became obsessed with the radio reports about Sputnik (the first satellite launched into space) that inspiration struck. Vyacheslav began to see things in a very new way, understanding that the modern man would live in a world with technology & leisure. Somewhere in all of this, music – Vyacheslav’s music – would have to evolve with the man who was listening.
The Orchestra of Electronic Instruments, largely using MOOG-like keyboard and theremins, was largely Vyacheslav himself, with occasional studio engineers helping out with his compositions. With an ear for turning a well known folk or western hit into a space-age lounge performance that was unlike anything in the USSR, Vyacheslav began to score the radio that was heard around the USSR.
From the onset it was not well regarded. While the state was not apposed to the music he made outright – and more pointedly was never in any danger of being asked to stop performing his “clothes irons” playing classical in public – the reviews were not kind up front. It wasn’t even the idea that Vyacheslav was performing western music; rock & roll had caught on in the USSR as it had anywhere else in the world, and there were already state-sanctioned acts performing all over the country. But on the whole no one believed, in 1958, that electronic music was anything more than a goof, or a novelty, if anything. It worked well for these “space” reports, but not for the average citizen. These synthesizers couldn’t possibly do anything more than a cute parody of what real instruments could provide.
The following year, Vyacheslav recorded the soundtrack for the russian sci-fi classic, Nebo Zovyot. The success of that film led to him recording more electronic music outside of the work he did for radio, and the response was positive to those releases, too.
Over the next 10 years the music began to catch on all over the USSR. Yuri Gagarin was said to have considered him his favorite artist. Vyacheslav’s music went into the national archive, and was used by any number of broadcasters throughout his career. The makers of the Russian Television used many of his songs in their shows, and made his songs favorites of kids and adults everywhere.
Vyacheslav was given the title of “The People’s Artist”, and recorded over 700 songs in the 30+ years of his career. When he retired in 1990, the music of Russian radio and television was of a much lower quality afterward. For many, entertainment in the USSR was very obviously pre and post Vyacheslav. It’s no wonder that the following year the Soviet Union disolved. Vyacheslav’s music was holding it together.
“No Kolhoznoi Ptitsaferme” was the theme music to the very popular series “Rabbit and Wolf,” (“Nu, Pogodi!”) which ran from the late ’60’s through the ’70’s, and it’s likely most Russian citizens could hum the tune if you asked them. This song is fairly emblematic of the sound Vyacheslav mastered in his career. His rendition of “Pop Corn” was a huge hit, and his insistence on using all electronic gear to compose pre-figured the current climate of recording music using GarageBand.
More importantly, it is embarrassing how unknown he is in the west, as he is not only the most well known early pioneer of electronic music in Russia, but is very well known by most artists outside of the US. He was performing and composing in 1958 in ways that our western counterparts didn’t master until the ’70’s, and yet the Cold War has forever relegated his work to the “world music” section of most music fans collection.
There is a fantastic two disc set – Easy USSR – that attempts to rectify this error, but the substantial body of his work is unknown to people outside of Russian Radio nerds, and is almost inaccessible in the US. Hopefully I will live to see the day when we can hear his work mentioned along with Bruce Haack and Silver Apples. Given the Cold War undertones in Chickenman (however muted they might be), I liked the juxtaposition (and perfect complement) these two pieces of art have when played together.
Wanting To Be Cool Radio, in beautiul Anywhere, Anywhen.
By (and for) those with discriminating aftertastes.
Audio Essays, Talk, Interviews, Live Music, Rock ‘n’ Fucking Roll.
With Your Host, Austin Rich.
Beginning with his terrestrial radio debut in 1998, Writer & Broadcaster Austin Rich has been delivering audio essays for 17 years (and counting). Half collage, half mix-tape, and half radio documentary, Austin has been mixing and editing audio tid-bits into lush compositions that both rock and tell a story. Using a stylized form of composition, this weekly program promises to explore new territory, and feature classic programs to help bring radio back into the world of podcasting.
Wanting To Be Cool Radio, In Beautiful Anywhere, Anywhen.
“We’ve only just begun.”
Be Seeing You.
Even more fun is on the horizon this spring as I begin rapidly filling up all the dates on my calendar. Here are a pair of audio offerings that you may be interested in, that you can hear via the comfort of the radio on your Inter-Web-A-Tron at kpsu.org.
First on the agenda is an appearance by none other than Crank Sturgeon on What’s This Called?, hosted by Ricardo Wang. I’ve been engineering live performances on Ricardo’s show since it transitioned to KPSU in 2005, and Crank has made a number of amazing appearances on the show since then. As Crank and I will be on a mini-tour together, our last stop will be in the KPSU studios, where he will be kicking out the jams one more time before he gets back on the road. If you are new to Crank’s music, it can best be described as a pulsing electro-organic performance with home-made gear, costumes, dancing, and a vision that is unique even among his peers. Tune in to kpsu.org on March 28th at 12 Noon to hear him rock the KPSU studios, and you will find out what I’m talking about.
Next on the agenda is KPSU’s 24 Hour Live Broadcast on April 11th. Last year, KPSU brought listeners a full day of live treats and goodies, and they have decided to repeat the feat this year, culminating in a series of experimental performances leading into What’s This Called? on the morning of the 11th. Ricardo Wang was kind enough to ask me to be a part of this show, and I’m very excited to find out what he has in store for listeners. While none of the acts have been selected yet, a quick glance at his broadcast history will give you an idea of the kinds of acts he usually gets on his show, and this should be the kind of event you will not want to miss. Set your alarm for experimental fun Saturday morning, and you will be rewarded with a number of incredible performances by some excellent acts.
As usual, the year has only just begun, so there will be more updates and information as we have the details. Music is good for the soul, and I love filling you in on all the soul-enriching information I have at my disposal.
Relive The Past, Today!
After over three years on consistent radio broadcasting, Miss Rikki needs a break. So, in order to help her stay sane, Closet Radio has gone into reruns. Now, by subscribing to the same feed as before, you can near vintage episodes that have not been available since their original broadcast. This is a chance to hear the show evolve in the same way it did originally, and get to know Miss Rikki, all over again.
Prime Time Reruns, Every Saturday Night! Classic episodes will be available at 8 PM, each week.
This link will allow you to find Closet Radio In iTunes!
And here is something you can paste into your “Internet Suspect Device” of choice.
Detailed playlists are now available, memories and notes are available in each post to add deeper information about each show, and links redirect to missing episodes, where you can find what scant information exists about these mystery episodes. And, when possible, the audio for these downloads have been remastered, to provide the best quality possible.
These episodes are presented with no editing, as they were originally heard by listeners on KPSU as they were broadcast.
The Closet Radio Retrocasts. Filling the void while Miss Rikki takes a much needed break. We’ll miss you, and can’t wait for your return.
The Dead Air Fresheners are performing on The Main Stage In St. John’s at 2 PM on September 6th. We will be performing promptly. I will be documenting this event to the best of my ability, through a variety of forms.
KLAXON. KLAXON. Tune in to Closet Radio for “A Very Momentary Lapse Of Reason” episode from 5 PM to 7 PM on kpsu.org. Miss Rikki & I will be performing two hours of live mixes with vinyl and movie clips. We will take calls & broadcast via MyTweFacester+ KLAXON. KLAXON.
AS IF THAT WEREN’T ENOUGH, THERE IS NOW MORE.
BlasphuphmusRadio.com will be covering NoFest. Austin Rich & Miss Rikki will be covering the event live during the evening and into the wee hours of the night. Stay tuned, faithful listeners, for explicit details and meet-ups.
We Now Live In The Future. Now More Than Ever.
On April 15th in 1998, I was drunk and determined not to miss my first appearance as the weekly host of a program that aired from 4 AM to 6 AM on KWVA in Eugene, Oregon. I meandered down to the station after closing down the bar in my neighborhood, and popped into the studio to meet with a somewhat confused Station Manager. She looked at me, asked if I knew what I was doing, to which I replied, “Of course.” (I did not.) Shaking her head, she left, asking me not to swear on the air, and soon enough I let the last song end, turned on the mic, and have not stopped broadcasting (or causing people to shake their heads) ever since.
Trying to tell someone that you are involved in Free Format, Non-Commercial Community Radio is a bit like trying to tell someone that you like to not get paid for things that you do. Usually, the Free Format Non-Commercial Community part of the statement is glossed over, and they latch onto the “radio” part. “Where are you on the air? When? What do you play?” The answers to these questions very quickly bore most people, and when you don’t mention their favorite station, or that you incessantly play their favorite band, they no longer care anymore. Go ahead and try to explain to them that you are involved in a conceptual program, presented over a long period of time, and involves non-musical audio recordings, odd narrative bits revealed in voice overs, mixed in with obscure and possibly unknown musical artists. See where it gets ya. I’ll wait.
The lack of traditional continuity is another issue. When I explain that the show has been on a number of stations since 1998, and that the show has had a few different titles in that time, people get easily confused. The fact that I have hosted other programs that are not related to Blasphuphmus Radio can only confuse people more, and the various numbering schema that we’ve used to organize the show only complicates the matters more.
There are other matters that make it difficult to make sense of: our name (Blasphuphmus? Huh?), my name, the number of “last ever broadcasts” I’ve participated in. There’s also the fact that most radio anymore is no longer happening on the AM or the FM. Podcasts? Archives? Webstreams? Inevitable questions come up: how are you live on the Inter-Web-A-Tron? How come I can’t listen in my car?
What is this all about?
Good question. I think, if I knew all of these answers, then there would no longer be a point to all of this for myself, either. Radio, in many ways, is about discovery, and as I continue to make my own discoveries, I am compelled to share them with those around me. For me, the outside world is something to be inquisitive about, and I don’t think that I can adequately answer the questions that regularly come up if the people asking are the kinds that gloss over the phrase, “Free-Format, Non-Commercial.” Radio is, for lack of a better means of describing it, an audio puzzle that I am constantly trying to solve. You have to be interested in those kinds of puzzles to really want to try and crack it yourself.
If you are a dedicated listener, then my suspicion is that you aren’t so much looking for an answer per se, but for a new question to reveal itself to you. “Who is this? What is this? Where can I find it? Is there more like it?” These are the questions that we’re confronted with constantly as music fans. These are questions that are never adequately answered, nor should it be in my mind. The entire reason I’m involved in radio is because there is a nagging desire to find new puzzles to solve, and my hope is that there are enough of you who enjoy these puzzles that make being in broadcasting worth it to you, too.
In trying to solve this puzzle for myself over the last 16 years, I have seen and heard some amazing things. (I have also seen and heard some awful things, but we try not to think about Bush & Creed these days.) I have met some incredible artists, all of whom were very excited to be a part of this project that I’ve been slowly building in this time: Exene Cervenka, Monogamy Party, Dinosaur Jr., DEAD (from Australia), Camper Van Beethoven, Gaythiest, Dr. Frank, RABBITS, Devotchka, and over 250 other bands that I can’t possibly name all in this space (but you can stream or download nearly all of them from here.) I’ve gotten to broadcast on the air with all of my best friends over the years, and have some of the most memorable recordings of those shows. I have gotten to interview a countless numbers of people, and have learned some incredible stories about people I know and appreciate. And, I have been able to spend entire evenings by myself, alone with a pair of turntables, playing records for the entire world to hear.
To be honest, our 16th Anniversary this year snuck up on me. Last year’s two-day extravaganza was really huge, and while some of the previous anniversaries have had worthwhile celebrations too, it didn’t really occur to me that the date had arrived until it was almost upon me. And in a way, that is fitting. More than drawing attention to arbitrary milestones and numbers that might sound as if I’m just boasting, being involved in radio is about showing up every week, year in, year out, and meeting the particular challenge that lies ahead.
As Blasphuphmus Radio continues to grow and expand, it is worth it to stop and smell the roses of our past, and see where we have wound up. In 1998, you either listened live, or I made you a tape that I had recorded off of the board so you could hear the show. Now, you stream the content whenever and wherever you want – live for otherwise – and we have listeners in Alaska, Macedonia, here in town, and in outer space. In 1998, we had one host, one program, and were on the air in the early hours of the morning on one station, heard in only one town in a remote part of the Pacific Northwest. Now, we have a number of shows all part of our family, with a variety of hosts, themes, and subjects, available whenever and wherever you happen to be. In 1998, radio was a single medium format – audio – and very few other forms of media was even considered to cross over with that method of deliver. Now, video and photos are an everyday part of our program, and it would weird if we didn’t offer at least a photo, if not captured in a variety of ways.
There are more changes and expansions for us on the horizon, and as we adopt new technologies in an effort to bring you the best program we can, we want to look back at our humble beginnings and trace the insane (and incredibly diverse) history that we offer. We have always been interested in finding new musical questions to ask, and present them to the world in a way that, hopefully, causes listeners to ask other questions, too. We have been, to quote John Flasburgh of They Might Be Giants, an outward-looking entity, trying to make sense of (and participate within) a creative universe that is harsh and sometimes forbidding.
To know that many of you have been listening – a few of you for many many years now – is not only a testament to the fact that our inquisitive nature is paying off, but that we have a lot more in store that we should be asking questions about.
I mean, I still don’t know anything about Chinese Opera. I wonder what it sounds like?
Here’s to the next 16 years. Cheers.
Until next time: Be Seeing You.
Dump The Dip, And Get with Us:
Blasphuphmus Radio‘s Listener Support Thresholds
For KPSU’s 2014 Pledge Drive
(A User’s Guide)
We get it. You’ve been with them for a really long time. But they always forget your birthday, they don’t like grabbing a bite at a food cart before a good show, and they don’t understand why you love The Everly Brothers. You need to face facts: you need to dump them, and get with either A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Closet Radio, or What’s This Called? We’re all friends with KPSU.org, and we’re all part of the BlasphuphmusRadio elite cadre of friends, and they’re all raising money for the Annual Pledge Drive.
KPSU’s Pledge Drive is a yearly effort to keep their particular brand of Free-Form College Radio on the air. As with all public radio in this country, listener support is the key to keeping media like this available. There are many cities in this country that do not have a local radio station like this, and even fewer that are truly free-form. But radio like that costs money, and with that, we are looking for your support.
To help keep the Pledge Drive going, we have developed a series of Blasphuphmus Radio Listener Support Thresholds that allow you to support KPSU, keep programs like these on the air, and give you a number of reasons why anyone you might be with should be dumped immediately, in favor of us.
This is how our Listener Support Thresholds work: each Threshold level offers you a chance to support us at the level that you can afford. With each successive level, you enjoy the rewards and benefits of each previous level, too. With each Threshold that you achieve, you not only allow our program to continue, but you also allow KPSU to continue to offer programs like our own.
While we have not yet finished establishing all of the rewards listeners will gain from each successive Threshold, you can get a sampling of the kinds of things that will be available for this year’s Pledge Drive here. Believe me, it’ll be a doozy.
In the meantime, keep this link handy, as it is where you can donate to KPSU. Make sure to state what your are donating for, and offer complete information so we can get in touch with you. And: thank you for your support.
Threshold 1: Audience Participation. ($0 – $5.00)
At this level of donation, you offer any amount of money you can afford to keep A Momentary Lapse of Reason on the air. We understand. We like free radio too. We like having it available all the time, whenever we want. However, if you can afford to offer a little more than that, and want to support our program financially, then you will get a mention in our Audience Participation section of the program. You can always make an anonymous donation, but at this Threshold Level, you become a part of the show. It’s what we do for people who care.
Threshold 2: Staplebound & Down ($5.00 – $9.00)
The fine people at A.C.R.O.N.Y.M., Inc. & AZKaos have donated a variety of ‘zines and small publications for your entertainment. For those who like to enjoy some of the simpler pleasures in life, there is nothing better than sitting back with a favorite radio program while enjoying a great little print ‘zine. We can hang out together, just sharing the time, you know? Any listeners that donate at this level will get one of their fine publications in the mail. You’re welcome.
Threshold 3: A Trip To The Record Store. ($10.00 – $24.00)
At this level of donation, you get to take a trip through our exclusive record store, where you get to select an album of your choosing, just for being a donor to our fine program. Music is a mood setter, you know, and we want you to set the kind of mood you want. We have a number of albums for you to choose from, and each of these are from artists that support our show, too. You can choose from the following albums:
Balms – New Cassette Album
Guyve – Delaying The Inevitable LP / CD Combo
Aural Resuscitation Unit – Digital Download
Lost In The Supermarket (A Blasphuphmus Radio Compilation, Physical or Digital)
Paco Jones – A Second Chance Again EP
Cathead – In Loving Memory of Harold (Expanded Edition Re-Issue, Physical or Digital)
The Thrash Key Kids
Brown – Lepidoptera LP
Moth Hunter – No Contact (Live Performance, Physical or Digital)
Live At Habesha Lounge (13 April 2013, Physical or Digital)
Threshold 4: Breakfast With Blasphuphmus Radio ($25.00 – $29.00)
We know you. You’re the kind of person that is going to come over and hang out with A Momentary Lapse of Reason. We’ll be listening to records, reading ‘zines, and staying up well past both of our bedtimes. When the morning comes, to avoid that awkward conversation when we first wake up, let’s instead just go to breakfast. Broder here in Portland has been kind enough to offer some excellent Gift Certificates for people who donate at this level. This is an excellent opportunity for us to keep the party going, both on the air, and with our budding relationship.
Threshold 5: We Want The Airwaves! (DJ For A Day) ($30.00 – $39.00)
Things are getting pretty serious between us, isn’t it? You really do spend every Wednesday night with us, but you want to take things to the next level. I understand. That’s why at the ‘We Want The Airwaves!‘ Threshold Level, where you actually get to take over our program for an entire show. You get to name it. You get to host it. You get to pick the segments, and what we talk about. And your lovely co-hosts (Austin Rich & Miss Rikki) will make it all happen. This is an opportunity for true audience participation, in person or electronically via Skype or Hangout. For those of you who need a little something more.
Threshold 6: The Exchanging of Gifts ($40.00 – $49.00)
We think about each other constantly. We can’t stop sending texts, and making random phone calls in the middle of the day. (You know: just because.) You don’t want to rush things, but you feel the time is right to start getting little presents for each other. One day, you show up with over $40.00 for me. I’m so touched, I decide to give you one of these incredible Gift Sets, designed especially for you. That’s how much I care about your incredibly thoughtful gift. You can pick the Gift Set of your choice:
- What’s This Called? Live Music Archive (4 Disc Set) Produced by Austin Rich, this set of .mp3 Discs contains every existing live performance on What’s This Called? since 2005, and is a rare collection of complete performances by over 70 artists.
- A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. & AZKaos ‘Zine Gift Set. We gather an assortment of ‘zines produced by A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Inc. over the last 20 years and bundle them with some choice selections from AZKaos, as a way of saying, “Thank you,” for being such a stoic fan and friend. (Available physically and digitally.)
- Blasphuphmus Radio CD Gift Set. We bundle any four CDs from Threshold #3 as a way of giving you even more music to enjoy, and hopefully to stoke the fires of our relationship.
- The Thrash Key Kids “Mixology” Gift Set. Joe Peg of The Thrash Key Kids has hand made these “Mixology” Gift Sets of TKK odds and ends. Because nothing says long-term like smelly, offensive punk rock.
RLLRBLL Gift Set. A vinyl LP and t-shirt for one of the greatest bands in the Portland Area, donated by Mae herself. This one will go fast, to Pledge soon.
Threshold 8: Damn, You Look Good! ($50.00 to $74.00)
Wow. I mean, really, you look good. Not that you didn’t already; you always look good, because you listen to our program. But you look really good, like, ‘Let’s skip dinner, keep the lit candles, but put on some records so we can sit in the corner and “talk”,’ good, too. Clearly, you used that Gift Certificate for Tara j Merritt at A.H.S. for a haircut & deep conditioning treatment. Tara always makes me look much hotter when I leave, and she hooked me up with all sorts of hair care stuff that now clutters up a good portion of my bathroom. At this level of support, you would get the full treatment from Atomic Hair Studio for our big date. You like art, right? I hope so, because…
Threshold 9: Auction For Art’s Sake ($75.00 to $99.00)
The usual kicks just don’t do it for you anymore. We’ve been together for a while now, but you want more. Like a big date, a night on the town to have a little excitement now and then. You want to go to an art auction, and you are in luck. For fans who donate at this Threshold Level, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of the four unique pieces of art that have been donated to our program for the Pledge Drive. Four lucky people will go on a date with A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and be able to participate in a live, on-air drawing for a chance to win pieces by the following artists:
- Travis Wade, who has donated two small paintings like the kind she sells via his Esty Store. (x2)
- William Ethan August Meyer, who has donated two of his sculptures. (x2)
While we will both have to buy our own drinks, this date will be an on-air extravaganza, where you get to win some real art, like at an auction. Because I know that you’re class as fuck.
Threshold 10: Let’s Do It. Let’s Fall In Love. ($100.00 or more.)
It has come to this. We’ve become quite serious, and it is time to let the world know how we feel about each other. For people who decide to enter into this Threshold of support, then it’s time to throw a party to celebrate our relationship. Together, we’ll work with a local venue, to put on a fundraising party, to celebrate what we’ve become. We’ll develop the show together. We’ll pick bands and DJs. We’ll work with KPSU to make this event come together. And together, we’ll get to host this amazing event together. Because the world needs to know about our love.
Sustaining A Threshold.
If you are the kind of supporter that wants to establish a Sustained Threshold – making the same donation year after year – then we have a deal that will not only continue to help KPSU bring you programs like ours, but will allow you to get more for your money, NOW. If you choose to establish a Sustained Threshold with our program (promising to continue to make the same donation every year), then you will not only receive all the benefits of the Threshold you sustain at, but also the Threshold above, too. It’s another way of rewarding dedicated fans and donors, and we want to make sure you get everything you deserve for being such a supportive fan.
Together, We Can Do This.
We’re both tired of being in relationships where we’re not getting the support we thing we deserve. And there’s no reason to stay with the people who used to treat us so poorly. By donating to KPSU for the 2014 Pledge Drive, you can enter into a supportive relationship where we’ll both get what we need from each other without all the lying and manipulation we’re both used to. Together, we can be happy. Together, we can do it.
24/7. on KPSU.org.
San Francisco’s Balms will be in the Portland area this week, and they were kind enough to agree to step into the KPSU studios for an appearance on A Momentary Lapse of Reason. These shoegazers have a few songs available on their Bandcamp page, and will be playing at The Know of February 4th and Habesha Lounge on February 5th. However, you can sample their particular songwriting style on A Momentary Lapse of Reason at 6 PM on Wednesday, February 5th.
To get a sense of what this band brings to the table, check out their video for their song, “Grave,” now available on their YouTube Page. They are an excellent combination of old-fashioned noise pop, shoegazey drone, and beautiful love songs that will touch you in a number of ways, and we’re very happy to have them on our program.
See you then.
Blasphuphmus Radio has been working diligently to produce as much media for your consumption as possible, and as if our other endeavors were not enough, we have finally launched a new program for the year 2014. Please join us for A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
Presented as A Radio Almanac and delivered in a talk format, this program is geared toward trying something new on the air. Considering KPSU‘s previous relationship with Austin Rich, they were more than happy to host a program from the temporal doppelganger who lost the years between 1999 and 2010.
Tune in at 6 PM on Wednesday’s for this new program that sounds almost, but not quite, like something you may have heard before.
Audience Participation: 503-725-5945. firstname.lastname@example.org. @blasphuphmus.
Sit. Listen. Laugh. Enjoy.
Blasphuphmus Radio has been growing and developing in recent years, and as technology becomes cheaper and more affordable, we have tried to find ways to use them effectively. With that in mind, we are proud to present our newest venture, our very own YouTube channel!
As we have had many opportunities to meet and record musicians, occasionally some video of the event would manage to be captured. However, there have been few places to put these video pieces in the past, and the few times they’ve been posted, they have been lost in the deluge of visual media. Now, there is a one-stop solution to the question, “What kind of videos are available from some of my favorite Blasphuphmus Radio episodes?
These videos include great collaborations with Ricardo Wang of What’s This Called?, Miss Rikki of Closet Radio, Johnathon Boober, not to mention all the cool bands they booked, or the ones I hosted myself. Every time I turned on a camera and filmed something, these videos wound up here. Think of is as a curated collection of great moments in radio, and all you have to do is subscribe!
These are just a few of the samples of things that are forthcoming from Blasphuphmus Radio. As we enter our 15th year, we’re hoping to really change up the way we bring you all the great things you know and love. It has been a real privilege to be able to do all the things I’ve done over the years, and it is with your support that I have been able to do it. Now, you can help me, by subscribing to our channel on YouTube.
Now: let the images speak for themselves.
Nine Bands! Two Reunions! Two Venues! Two Digital Album Releases! Live Radio! Come witness an event that only happens once every 15 Years, as we bring you:
The 15th Anniversary Blas-Travaganza!
April 19th & 20th At East End & Slim’s
The Nervous, /root_DIR, Cathead, Thurst, Guyve, The Dead Air Fresheners, Moth Hunter, Snatch Wagon & Gordon Taylor join Austin Rich, as he broadcasts two Live Shows from two different venues on the anniversary of Dick Clark’s Death! For the first time ever, Blasphuphmus Radio will come to you live from a venue, to bring you music, audio hijinx, plenty of live guests, and a celebration of this peculiar thing he calls a hobby.
What is Blasphuphmus Radio?
On the 15th of April, 1998, Austin Rich drunkenly stumbled into the KWVA studios in Eugene, OR, insisting that he was a DJ who worked as a clergyman for The Church of Blasphuphmus (Not Jesus). Surprisingly, he was not kicked out, but instead was offered a steady position, jockeying discs, interviewing locals, and trying to make sense of the elaborate musical tapestry that the universe consistently weaves. 15 years later, after stints at four different stations, he is still at it, creating and disseminating radiophonic memories from historic St. John’s every Tuesday. The complete Blasphuphmus Radio archives now reside at their very own website, where you can stream or download a large portion of the existing back episodes. You can also subscribe to the show in iTunes. However, the best way to enjoy the show is to come see it Live, April 19th & 20th of 2013, for music, merriment, and Live Radio from the comfort of your bar of choice. A Blas-Travaganza like this won’t happen again until the next time we do it, so Save The Date!
Day 1: East End at 9 PM! $8.00 Cover gets you a free download card of Lost In The Supermarket, a Blasphuphmus Radio digital compilation!
East End (203 SE Grand Ave) has kindly offered their space for us to kick off our party, and what better way to get things started than a loud and rock show! As the Master of Ceremonies, Austin Rich will be hosting this evening of rock music, nostalgia, and anniversaries. We will also be releasing our very first digital release, Lost In The Supermarket, a collection of original compositions by many friends of the show! The price of admission gets you a free download card for this comp, and the chance to see our killer line-up, taking attendees through the world of Punk Rock, Metal, and all points in-between. We start with:
The Nervous (from Portland, OR)
In what will be their third live performance for local audiences, The Nervous will bring their special nerd-rock blend to East End for a full-on punk explosion! Reborn out of the ashes of Mondale, The Nervous are the perfect band to kick things off with as they present songs about girls, D’n’D, and achieving your PHD. The Nervous will anxiously introduce you to the weekend’s proceedings.
/root_DIR (from Eugene, OR)
Within the corporate music industry’s system of continuous improvement, very little attention has been paid to the synergistic relations of business strategies such as 5-S, Six Sigma, SMED, and ISO 9004. This is where /root_DIR can satisfy consumer requirements by using results oriented grindcore management. By identifying any given series of musical notes and beats as a system, related resources can be managed systematically to achieve the most efficient and effective means of conveying sonic brutality. The leadership team of /root_DIR, Capps Lock and Semi-Colin, are specialists in their field. With a combined 25 years of grind, post-punk, heavy metal, and hardcore experience, /root_DIR is poised to become the premiere manufacturer of high quality power violence, crust punk, and grind core, all with with the lean-production efficiency of a two-piece band. For /root_DIR, our real product is the trust we build with our customers. Together, we can achieve excellence!!!!!
Cathead 20th Anniversary Reunion! (from Globe, OR)
Performing live for the first time since 1996, and celebrating 20 years since their original formation, Cathead will be bring you a full live set to really get your motor runnin’. Having seen action from 1993 – 1996, Cathead brought their particular brand of avant-punk nonsense to stages in Eugene before splitting up in what was called, “The Most Sensible Thing They Band Has Every Done.” Now, in what they are calling “The Contractual Obligation Performance Of The Decade,” Performance Art vets Cathead will bring you all the sHits, new compositions written in 2006, and their own brand of subverted rock music, offering a rare chance to see this obscure outfit from the ‘90’s. Voted “Worst Band To Play Icky’s Teahouse” by none other than Sunshine himself, this will be a reunion not to be missed. Cathead will be selling, for the first time ever, download cards for their expanded edition of In Loving Memory Of Harold, a final document of their recorded output.
Thrust (from Eugene, OR)
Thrust is Brandon Skinner and Todd Zimmerman. It is their misguided attempt to play their favorite bedtime horrorshow lullabies at double or triple speed. It has once been said that if this music were ever actually done correctly, people in the audience would spontaneously throw extra pairs of underwear over their current underwear….you know, for backup. They have managed to carve out a sound all their own with half the instruments of your average rock band. A relatively new group with metal tinges to their set, Thurst will be diverging from the nonsense of the openers to bring tight, loud compositions for a crowd of discerning rockers.
Guyve 20th Year Celebration! (from Portland, OR by way of Ft. Peck, Montana.)
GUYVE is an experi-metal trio originally formed in 1993 on the Ft. Peck Indian Reservation in eastern Montana. Calling Oregon home since 2002, the group continues to produce raw and undeniably genuine sounds. With more than a dozen self releases to their name, the band is currently writing new material for their follow-up to last years vinyl LP, Delaying the Inevitable. GUYVE manifests a timeless, organic moment, musically rendering listeners into a state susceptible to insight. Wrought by physical intensity and dynamic volume the resultant non-spatial, out of body soundscape is a full on aural experience; Soma/psyche-delic tones with visible decibels. Clubs change names and scenes and trends ebb and flow, yet GUYVE continues to rock harder than ever with unparalleled integrity. Get out and support GUYVE as they celebrate their 20th year.
Day 2: Slim’s Show in Historic St. John’s! Free!
Day 2 finds us at Slim’s (8635 N Lombard St), where the magic continues with some stranger rock bands. Again, Austin Rich will be our fantastic host, who will give you a behind-the-scenes look as to what the Blasphuphmus Radio studios are actually like during a show. We will also be offering Lost In The Supermarket download cards, and hosting some incredible live music, which includes:
Austin Rich w/ The Dead Air Fresheners! (from the I-5 Corridor)
Dead Air Fresheners will be embarking on the third leg of our spoken artist soundtrack trilogy when we present our world premiere of Austin Rich with the Dead Air Fresheners! We’ll be providing the aural icing to Austin’s spoken cake at the 15th Birthday Party for his long running radio show and podcast Blasphuphmus Radio. Austin will be performing one cover, and several original short compositions with them, as well as using their chance determinism as the launching pad for his vocal introductions.
Alpha Protist (from Portland, OR)
Alpha Protist was conjured in 2007 as the logical conclusion to a binge on Jason Molina, Tobin Sprout, and scotch whiskey. Curious garage folk/pop that will stay with you and probably wear out its welcome. Alpha Protist will revive old ghosts from 2007 – 2010 releases, and show some unreleased music the light of day. Alpha Protist are Joel Gaddis and Nil Jones, founding members of the Battlesnakes Records music collective based in Portland. Two full length releases – Feral Tributaries and Glass Animals – and the Chemical Men EP are available at battlesnakesnow.com/alphaprotist. For more information, contact email@example.com
Moth Hunter (from Portland, OR)
No stranger to our show, Moth Hunter brings home-brewed electronic wizardry an atmospheric noise to a level that sends shivers down your spine. He and I have worked together a few times in recent years, and his technical know-how and proficiency in delivering audio punishment is well known to discerning connoisseurs of experimental music. Catch him in a rare live performance during our second intermission for the show.
Snatch Wagon (from Portland, OR)
While many would claim that the name says it all, Snatch Wagon is more than the sum of its parts. An all-female rock group with clever lyrics, Snatch Wagon will perform a set of original compositions about boys, booze, meth and knowing where the party is at.
Gordon Taylor, after an extended absence, returns to the stage! (from Portland, OR)
Psychedelic Indie-Punk? Intellectual rock for the obliterated show goer? The eponym Gordon Taylor, a ‘fat, festering old king’ accused of ‘moving to the left’ would risk not a micro-reunion to bless 15 years of Blasphuphmus Radio. So why does Portland’s sole (neither pre- nor post-) during-rock outfit want to sock you in the rocks in 2013? Or why do they not? If you still haven’t heard GT’s Invisible City, a Calvino-drenched rocker, then you must be spanked with kid gloves and gently scalded. They are frenetic, joyous, and explode with jagged hooks. Like that guy from Hellraiser. With guitar.
As we begin to look down the barrel of the end of the year, it seem appropriate to direct listeners to some of the seasonal highlights that are on the horizon. We have a number of great opportunities coming our away as we close out the year, and I wanted to give them mention well in advance, to give you ample warning so you could put these dates on the calendar. As usual, you can keep track of all upcoming Blasphuphmus Radio events here, where the calendar is as up-to-date as we are.
11 September falls on a Tuesday, and this year I’ve decided to do a tribute to our fair country in a holiday broadcast, tentatively titled “Bless This Mess.” While I am making every effort to keep this episode in the realm of “harmless fun,” I should warn people with sensitive natures to avoid this episode entirely, as I am sure that there will be some elements of this program that will undoubtedly offend. I would feel bad if I didn’t, actually.
October is our annual Halloween Spook-tacular!, where we pull out all the stops and bring you the best in the only kind of holiday music I care about. Certainly one of my favorite series of shows, you can subscribe to only these episodes – and many of our past Halloween shows – at this handy iTunes link, which includes tributes to The Mad Daddy, Ghoulardi, a number of Edgar Allen Poe stories, and every Halloween novelty record I’ve been able to get my hands upon. This has been a tradition now going back to 2002, and if you love Halloween music as much as I do, then these shows are gonna be up your alley.
27 November will feature a relatively new tradition here on the program, our Thanksgiving Leftovers! series, now in our fourth year. You can also subscribe to this series in iTunes. While the last few years have been sort of a hodge podge of this, that and the other, but I’m thinking of taking this series into a different direction. If you have any suggestions, do not hesitate to send them our way.
We have the good fortune of having both Christmas and New Years fall on Tuesdays this year, which means that you will not only get an X-Mas Memories episode, but a New Year’s Dawning program that will fall on the appropriate date, even! While our previous New Year’s episodes are only available via hunting them down in the archive, you can receive a number of our past X-Mas episodes in iTunes. My opinions of the holiday have changed drastically over time, and I’ve celebrated this time of year in a number of different ways since 1998. This particular podcast feed offers you live music performances, anti-holiday sentiments, experimental holiday jams, and everything in-between.
We’re also hoping to fit in a number of other shows here and there, and we’re still hammering out the complete details for some of these shows. In the near future we will be broadcasting a collaborative show with Cornelus F. Van Stafrin III, a great experimental artist who I’ve recorded a few times over the years. There’s also a few other irons in the fire, but I don’t want to speak too prematurely. I will merely say that you will know the moment I do.
As always, don’t forget to hit us up in the myriad of ways the Inter-Web-A-Tron offers in this far-flung date of 2012. Audience participation does happen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at blasphuphmus on Skype. Feel free to “enjoy” us on MyFacester+, or berate us @blasphuphmus on Twitter.
While it may seem corny to request your digital support in this way, there is an actual difference that is made when you interact with those interfaces, and click those buttons. The more traffic our pages gets, the more other people get a chance to see the site, learn about what we do, and become exposed to this particular thing we all know and love. If you are a fan, and if you enjoy the program, go to our pages, give us a thumbs up, tell us why you like us, what brings you back for more, and what we can do to improve the show. Just because I’ve been at this for 14 years now doesn’t mean I exactly know what I’m doing. I keep learning with each passing year, and I am always treading new territory when it comes to how I can improve what I do. The best way I can do this is to hear from you.
You guys are wonderful, you guys are beautiful, and without you there would be now show.
Be seeing you.
As we begin to weave our way into the Golden Age of podcasting, two things remain abundantly clear:
1.) More and More people include podcasts among the kinds of media they consume on a daily basis
2.) The People who are the best at producing podcasts make shows that they would like to hear themselves.
Neither of these points are shocking, or even revelatory in any way. Newspapers went through a very slow but similar evolution over time, gaining more and more readers, and being created in a way to reflect the creators own desires. The same can be said for radio and television. This is merely the process through which media gains the respect needed to be considered a legitimate outlet. Which, of course, brings us to the very crux of all of this to begin with: none of this was the case six years ago, when podcasting still seemed like the future, something that “wasn’t quite there yet.” By 2007, you were already behind the curve if you didn’t include a podcast now and then in you list of things you Liked on a public social media site, and now, as genuine digital networks are beginning to flourish while terrestrial stations shrug their heads and licence off a few more minutes per hour to an insurance company. Six years is an incredibly short period of time to make the transition from Obscure to Source Of Daily Entertainment.
And that, to me, is fantastic.
Not only has podcasting finally delivered the promise that radio seemed to make in the late ’60’s and ’70’s (media belongs to the people, dude!), but it’s allowing entire genres to develop, and others to return, in ways that commercial radio could never allow. It’s not just that podcasting could outperform radio in terms of cost, but by virtue of the much wider reach that the entire Inter-Web has to offer, nearly any show can develop and blossom as they reach a devoted web community provided they actually can deliver in terms of content. Even shows with poor production quality can hit a home-run provided the hosts are funny, the subjects interesting, and the overall show carries a certain element of fun.
Nerdist Industries, brainchild of Chris Hardwick, has been extremely adept when it comes to keeping things fun. And one person that seems to have internalized the notion is Ben Blacker, the host of both Nerdist Writers Panel, and writer of The Thrilling Adventure Hour, both excellent examples of the possibilities of podcasting.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a podcast based around edited highlights of recordings of live performances of the titular stage show. Ben Blacker works with a troupe of actors – The Workjuice Players – to produce audio theater “in the style of old time radio” where they offer supernatural thrillers, cowboy space adventures, sixties-style superhero parody, and everything else in-between. Using foley artists and music to flesh out the experience, this show not only reflects the sensibilities of old-fashioned narrative audio theater, but the modern sensibilities that they infuse this product with offer a level of playfulness that actual old time radio never managed to allow. (With the possible exceptions of Groucho Marx, or Abbott & Costello.) While something like this would languish on traditional radio in spite of a wide range of guests the show regularly features, in the world of podcasting it can thrive.
In many ways, Nerdist Writer’s Panel is the opposite of TAH. Ben Blacker hosts this show, instead of writing it. The show features discussion panels with a variety of writers from various fields, instead of offering a dramatized version of a story Ben has written. In fact, where TAH is the final product of Ben’s writing process, NWP offers Ben a chance to discuss the craft of writing with peers, in a fairly informal manner. While the guests can often make or break the draw of any show, Ben Blacker manages to keep the show focused, keep the guests on track, and to keep the conversation ever focused on the subject at hand: the art of writing. As someone who fancies himself interested in word craft and word play, this show is endlessly fascinating, to the point where I’m interested in listening to people talk about TV shows that I have never seen – nor do I want to – and yet I’m attentively listening to how they broke the pilot episode.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nerdist Industries has, in many ways, done things right: they grew their fanbase out of things that they themselves would find interesting. Case in point: the format of many of these shows. Out of financial necessity, many podcasts these days are live recordings of conversations that happen with the hosts and guests, often done in one take, and with little production or editing afterward. And, in many cases, “conversation” is being kind. Bullshit is what it really comes down to. A group of people get together and bullshit about all sorts of crap. And record it. And post it on the internet.
While this might seems like “bargain basement” in terms of production values, the fact of the matter is that the kinds of people these shows are aimed at are people who love to sit around and have these exact same kind of bullshit sessions. Podcasts, through evolution, created the conversational talk show, a form of bullshit that is so relate-able and identifiable that it is very easy to be drawn to these kinds of conversations. We would be having them ourselves if we weren’t commuting, or sitting at our desks, or if our friends weren’t already at work, or if we weren’t already somehow impaired from being able to spew our own bullshit. Instead, we like to fill that time with other people having those kinds of conversations instead.
Nerdist Industries has also recently launched a fantastic YouTube Channel that’s not only an extension of the other great things that Nerdist offers, but also has vintage Kids In The Hall clips, among other things. However, my money is now on the Writer’s Panel shows, of which there are at least 20 more that I haven’t yet heard.
There’s nothing like an iPod full of podcasts to make any day feel right.
This summer has offered an opportunity to redouble efforts in new projects, and the first has been something that is over 13 years in the making. When I first started in radio in 1998, the technology available to me was slim by today’s standards. Two CD players, two turntables, two microphones, two cart machines, and a tape deck. With those humble beginnings, I religiously (pun intended) archived my radio efforts with the thought that I may do something with it in the future. Now, the future is here.
This website is a near-complete archive of all 500 plus radio happenings since then. Individual listings are posted for every known broadcast, indexed and organized in a way that has never been possible before. What used to take up innumerable cassette tapes and pen-and-ink notebook records is now carefully filed digitally, for your easy perusal. It is fully interactive, allowing you to search and comment in a number of ways, and offers detailed information (when available), as well as download links for all recent, and a number of older, broadcasts.
I have to say, this has been a labor of love. When I first started doing a radio show, I had no idea that it would become the thing it has, all these years later. The fact that I can continue to work in this very special medium, and continue to challenge myself in order to do new and interesting things, allows me to fall deeper in love with something I cannot quit. (In spite of trying, twice.) To have a record like this is something that I’ve always envisioned, and to see it come to life in this way is something that I will not tire of anytime soon. Not only has this renewed my interest in the possibilities, but it has shown that through humble beginnings, you can grow a wonderful gem that shines better and better with age.
Obviously, some caveats are in order. While there is detailed information listed for a number of shows in this archive, there are quite a few that have only the barest listings possible. This is for a number of reasons, which I won’t get into entirely. Suffice it to say that this is a fluid archive, with information that is only as complete as the other databases I have merged to create this one. My own frail memory has supplemented entries when possible, but this is not nearly as fleshed out as it will become over time. There will also be new discoveries added as time goes on, and obviously our staff is tirelessly working to bring every obscure detail into sharp relief. But if there is any information that can be found about a given show, this is the place.
As noted in a number of places as well, this has coincided with a massive attempt at archiving our shows, digitally. Currently, all known shows are now safely secure in both DVD and raw-data forms here at Blasphuphmus Radio Headquarters, and thus I am offering older episodes for sale. (See here for more information.) While not to belabor the point, all new episodes will always be free, but to offset the costs of file uploads, and my own time, you will have to pay $1.00 per show for old episodes. I think it is more than fair, considering what you get. (Sometimes, a three-hour mix of music.) However, I am much more interested in getting these shows to the people that want to hear them, so if you express some interest, you will most likely get quite a deal. I am much more excited about seeing people make donations to The Friends of KPSU. You can donate as little or as much as you’d like, and it keeps shows like mine on the air. Radio needs your support, and without it, there is the distinct possibility that I won’t be able to continue to work with KPSU. I would hate to see that happen. End of message.
It appears that there are about 40 shows that do not exist in any form. (Probably more.) About 20 or so additional shows exist in truncated forms. Only one of the 61 KWVA shows exists in a near-complete form (minus the commercials.) And a number of shows have poor sound quality, or are in mono. However, that leaves almost 400 complete broadcasts available for you to listen to, and with over 200 live performances to choose from, there are hidden gems and treasures that I’m rediscovering, too. This has been a wonderful trip down memory lane, and I am impressed at the number of shows that really stand up, all these years later.
While I’m proud of every single part of this site, and I really just can’t wait for you to dive in and make discoveries of your own, I would like to draw your attention to a few important features that I think you’ll want to know about up front:
Upcoming Events: A rolling update of all known and currently scheduled radio events, including live performances, and scheduled themes.
Audio Essays: These are my personal favorite kind of show. Centered around a theme, or in some cases an audio narrative, I pick out songs and recordings that create an extended collage mix of content that flows as a complete presentation. Themes vary in scope and form, and I try not to repeat myself too often, but it is very hard to resist a little Sci-Fi now and then, and the Vinyl Solution Shows are not to be missed. I’ve been experimenting with shows like this since the beginning, heavily influenced by Negativland and their show, Over The Edge.
In-Studio Performances: Since 2004, I’ve regularly hosted live acts on my show (and on Live Friday). I’m a live music nut, but the costs of going to shows is a little more than a DJ can afford. So I invite them into the studio to play a little show for just me and my radio listeners. I’ve had a number of great artists over the years: Lana Rebel, Devotchka, Jesse Ransom, Levator, Dr. Frank, Roxy Epoxy, Nasalrod, Camper Van Beethoven, Gordon Taylor, Sloths, Ashtray, John Rambo, Murph from Dinosaur Jr., and a host of others. With over 200 recordings listed in the archive, there’s bound to be something you’ll love.
More than anything, I want to stress that the future is just as important now as it ever has been. New guests and themes are in the works, and old projects that were once thought forgotten are about to make their return to the airwaves. Personally, I feel that the past trials and tribulations we’ve faced are all the more easily forgotten considering the consistent quality of the show, which has only gotten better as I have made way for new ideas that only new technology – and radio – can bring you. It’s my pleasure to continue mining these new opportunities and possibilities for at least another 13 years.
As always, your input is valued. Every part of this website is interactive, with comments and the ability to make requests. You can participate in the show via the phone at 503-725-5945, or contact me about guesting on the show. I also act as KPSU’s Experimental Music Director, and review countless CDs for our ever-growing archives. Yes, I would love to hear your band’s new album. Really.
Hopefully you get as much joy out of this as it has been for me to create it. Radio has really become a passion of mine, something that really just began as a youthful enthusiasm. But what made it that way was the people listening, the people who have enjoyed it, and have encouraged me to keep at it. Without you, there would be no show.
Be seeing you.
According to this segment (and the research supporting it), people who are better at self deception, can modify the way they see the world (and themselves), and are generally more successful, richer, and happier in their own lives. Those who have difficulty in lying to themselves, and thus see the world as it really is, tend to have trouble being happy, and find it difficult to be successful in the same ways that liars are.
I find it interesting that there is evidence that supports something that anyone suffering from depression could have told you ages ago: the balance between being disingenuous and being honest is the surface tension that binds humanity.
As a seasoned fan and purveyor of broadcast audio, it is very easy to come to the conclusion that you’ve heard it all before. A quick scanning of the dial reveals very few things that veer away from the mundane and into the realm of the worthwhile, or even manages to be compelling enough to stick with for more than a few minutes. More often than not, you’ll be much more entertained by merely tuning the knob for an hour. Or, at least, you won’t notice much of a difference between stations if you do.
Listening to recordings of The Firesign Theater has almost nothing to do with that kind of experience. Equal parts Dada, performance art, verbal psychedelia for the sake of psychedelia, and pitch-perfect satire, this radio ensemble manages to consistently perform incredible feats of radio-tastic tomfoolery in a way that no other American (with the possible exception of Don Joyce) has been able to do. In many ways they are the Monty Python of broadcast radio, except that The Goon Show already managed to fill that roll, and more to the point, there is a sort of Marx Brothers style anarchic mania to Firesign that seems far too rooted in North American style and culture.
And that is, of course, the point. Sounding more like a drugged out, stream of consciousness, border radio, theater of the mind version of NPR anyway, Firesign occupies that very special place in media were they are simultaneously satire and statement, comedy and commentary, absurd and art, all at once. Nonsensical parodies and impersonations transition to insightful observations about modern junk culture, filtered entirely through late ’60’s cynicism and the medium of broadcast radio. In a lot of ways, it is far too much to take in all at once. Cursory listeners might be shocked to hear an audio veneer that is far too similar to your average talk radio station. Dig a little deeper, and you’re shocked to realize that there’s well thought out, scripted, carefully observed satire at play, that is more and more rewarding with each repeated listen. (Just parsing all the cultural references, many buried in double and triple enendres, can be a full time job.)
I’ve only just discovered Firesign, which is fortunate for me because there are hours and hours (and hours) of their recordings, both released and fan traded, for future digestion. In a world where it is increasingly more and more difficult to distinguish the difference reality from representation, Firesign effectively blurs, points out, mangles, and comments upon the line that separates the two in one of the most unique ways I’ve every had the pleasure of hearing.
Plus: it’s perfect to cook dinner to.
While I tend to throw around the phrase, “I ran sound for…” quite often anymore, after I received a few questions about what this meant, it occurred to me that this may require a bit of illumination for those who don’t spend a lot of time in recording studios. I say I’m Running Sound when I handle the technical end of a live performance at KPSU. While this might not be the exact terminology that a real Sound Tech might use to describe what he does, in my experience real Sound Techs are often complete assholes, so I don’t take much of what they say very seriously. I would also recommend that you do the same if you find yourself having to deal with one.
The Job Itself: When I get a sound request for KPSU, I show up as early as possible so I can greet the band when they show up. This way I can prep the gear as best I can, meet the band when they show up, let them know I’ll be the one helping them out. I’ve found this to be the most important thing you can do, for a number of reasons. First, being early is invaluable if you actually want to do a good job. (If that’s not a priority for you, then maybe you shouldn’t be a Sound Tech.) Second, being there to meet the band right away will set both you and them at ease. Radio gigs can often be wearisome for bands, and if the Sound Tech is the person that stands between them and sounding awesome on live radio. If the Sound Tech is there when they get there, then they know he is taking the job at least as seriously as they do.
Most of the time, showing up early seems moot to a lot of Sound Techs; very rarely does a band ever show up on time, and more often than not, they are very, very late. However, this is where being prepared comes in very handy. The more setup you can get ready before the band arrives, the easier it will be to accommodate late bands. I’ve gotten to the point where I can do setup in just a few minutes if need be, provided the band does not mind sounding terrible, and only gets to play one or two songs live.
As the band begins to set up their gear, I find it important to ask questions and try to get to know the band. It doesn’t matter that I will not be interviewing them, or that I will never see them again. In some cases, when it is clear that the effort will be pointless, I don’t even try to like them. But I do try to be as friendly as possible, preferably by telling a lot of jokes and getting them to laugh. A stiff, nervous, and uncomfortable band makes for terrible radio. However, a band that is having a good time, feeling at ease, and laughs at dumb jokes, is ready to rock. Strange but true. There have only been one or two occasions where I had trouble with a band that took themselves too seriously. I probably don’t have to tell you how bad those performances were.
Once the drums are set up, I start setting up mics. KPSU doesn’t have anything too fancy, but we have all the usual mics and stands that your average venue and uber-cheap studio would have. I use SM 58s on vocals, and 57s on amplifiers. We have an assortment of other mics for the drums, and a huge cache of DI (Direct Input) boxes if we’re circumventing that kind of stuff in the first place. I usually set up vocals first, amps second, and drums third. Drums are always the hardest, and I can spend all the time in the world trying to get them right, so I always save them for last. All of this runs into a snake (an input box that runs to the board pictured above).
Once the band is set up and the mics are in place, and if there is time, I like to let the band do a sound check. This is as much for them as it is for me; the room bands play in is pretty funky, and does not sound great. Of course, nervousness combined with the strange environment and unusual sound can be difficult, so the more of a sound check the band gets in, the better they will sound. This is also why it is nice to pal around with the band first. They will play better if they are comfortable. Honest. While they are sound checking, I’ll get a rough mix ready and record it in Sound Forge. Again, if there’s time, I’ll play it back for the band, get their input, then do the final mix based on their input. Hopefully, there’s enough time for both the band and myself to sneak in a cigarette before they go live.
I will be honest: I don’t exactly know how all the gear works. I know we have a feedback destroyer wired into the board, and that helps tremendously with loud bands. We also have a few different effects boxes in a rack next to the board, where I can coax out a little reverb if needed. But on the whole, I don’t play with effects much. The bands that care about effects will bring their own, and being Live on The Radio is about being Live on The Radio. Adding a bunch of weird effects rarely helps, and often just covers the fact that your band sucks. We also have a pair of monitors that we can put in the room so bands can hear their vocalists.
Once the mix is ready, I set up the computer to record a stereo signal from the board. This same signal gets sent to the Broadcast Room, where the DJ hosting the show can broadcast it live. At that point, I step down and take my cues from the DJ and the band. I do monitor the performance throughout the show, and do some on-the-fly adjustments if they are needed. (And, with live radio, it is often needed.) But once I get to that stage, it is often easy going, and I can run on auto-pilot. I’ve noticed that some Sound Tech’s completely check out one the band goes live, going so far as to check their e-mail or read to pass the time. I call bullshit on that. If you want the band to sound good, you need to be attentive, you need to illustrate that you are trying to make them sound good, and at the very least, just watch and listen. Your job is to manage sound. If you are not listening, then you are not doing your job. Period.
Once the show is over, the last thing you have to do is tear down the gear. I generally burn a couple copies of the performance while this is happening: one for the band, and one for my personal archive. I found out, early on, that bands LOVE getting these kinds of board recordings, and they often end up being used as demo recordings, tour CDs, or sometimes, on an album. I then go about putting away the gear, zeroing out the board, and wrapping cables. It often takes about 30 minutes to make sure it’s all done right.
I’ve ran sound for over 100 bands now since 2006, and have really enjoyed doing it almost every single time. Perhaps there were two or three bands that were really hard to deal with, and maybe only one that were really dicks who I would have a problem working with again. But more than the bands, the real dipshits have been other Sound Techs. I have met and worked with a number of totally horrible examples of human beings, who have no respect for the job, for music, or for other people. I like to pride myself on being the “Nice” Sound Tech, and to be honest, I have only met a few others that are worth their salt. For some reason this kind of job attracts some real losers with terrible social skills, and while I have been fortunate enough to avoid those kinds of Sound Techs in the last year or so, I regularly hear from bands and performers that they had never met a Sound Tech before who was as nice and attentive as I was. It’s become a point of pride.
So, that’s the job, really. For some bizarre reason I enjoy it. I won’t say that it is always fun; it is often stressful, and even the nicest band can become a pain in those situations. But when everything is going smoothly, I have a great time, and really, really enjoy it. Perhaps that is the surest sign of how crazy I actually am.
Where do I even begin?
I follow the Planet Money Podcast, mostly because I don’t understand anything about Money, Savings, Spending, The Economy, The Housing Market, Where Dollar Bills Come From, Budgeting, How I’m Gonna Pay Off My $25,000 in Student Loans, or anything else that is remotely considered “financial.” Not that it’s helped at all; I’ve been listening for a couple months now, and I’m still not quite sure I have a clearer understanding of how a bank works. But I do recognize an educational rap song, and a misplaced dollar sign, when I see one.
Yesterday I finally heard the ” ‘Yo!’ Planet Money Raps” episode, and found myself confronted by a number of strange and confusing things. My questions, for the world at large, are as follows:
1.) Does the world really need a rap song where Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes duke it out in in a Rap called “Fear The Boom And Bust“?
2.) Why do we need Ke$ha to confirm if the song is “legit” or not?
3.) Why am I obsessed with Ke$ha enough to Google the video for “TiK ToK” multiple times?
4.) Is there a way to prevent NPR from negatively impacting my psyche as they try to make sure my misguided obsessions leaks into their everyday news story podcasts?
I used to think that I could listen to NPR and count on some dry, sobering monotone that would cause me to reflect upon my place in the world at large, and reconsider all the terrible things I’ve said / done in the last 20 odd years. Why, instead, am I getting the 2010 economic equivalent of the Space Goblin “Stay In School” rap from Space Ghost Coast To Coast?
And, really: why do I love, “TiK ToK”? Is this an illness?
I always wanted to join the official Servotron Robot Allegiance, mostly because humans that did qualify for cyborg status (meaning: you weren’t killed when the robots took over), were given the opportunity to serve their robot masters after they were stripped of their emotional desires and drives. The idea that you could finally have all these messy emotions removed, and work entirely with reason and logic, seemed like the ideal life. No longer would you be at the beck and call of your every emotional whim, caving into those mood swings that you weren’t really interested in having in the first place. Ah, to be reason and logic based. Every hominid’s dream, right?
So, today on the bus I was listening to this Radiolab segment, and had that dream quietly disappear. The short version: in the segment, we meet a guy who, through a series of surgical circumstances, no longer had emotional involvement when it came to making decisions, and the news was fairly grim. Not only was he not able to make decisions because he did not have his emotions there to help him out, but he proceeded to make worse and worse decisions, loosing his job, his money, and falling for scams on a regular basis. Apparently, emotions actually enable us to make better decisions, because they account for the factors that pure logic and reason cannot account for. And vice versa.
I guess things could be worse. Today, my dream of becoming a cold, calculating, and unimaginatively logical robot were thwarted by common sense and Robert Krulrich.
And I guess that’s totally fine.
I got this e-mail while I was doing my show yesterday. How cool is that?
From: Dr Hitchcock
Date: Sat, Feb. 28th, 2009 at 1:43 PM
Subject: Lovin’ your show man!
Greetings from Christchurch, New Zealand!
As a person dependent on bus transportation, you quickly tire of many of the usual ways to pass the time when being ferried back and forth. To shake things up, I’ve been listening to NPR on my iPod, since it’s not only a surefire way to show my instant alignment with the political Left, but it also sends a clear signal to the masturbating homeless man sitting next to me that it’s not okay to engage me in conversation. (Might I add: mission accomplished.)
Recently I listened to this Radiolab episode, in which Robert Krulwich and Brian Greene get down to brass tacks about the nature of the universe. It’s pretty compelling stuff, and Robert’s incredulous questioning not only acts as a proxy for the usual kind of scepticism new ideas like this tend to become associated with, but Brian’s cool demeanor in what must be a pretty uncomfortable position creates a perfect science narrative for us to take home: even in the face of absolute hostility from skeptics, the bigger truths that science is uncovering are, without a doubt, compelling and fascinating, even for Christians.
Even more interesting than the encoded religious discourse is the fact that, according to Brian’s understanding of the universe, Comic Books had it right all along: we live in a universe where every imaginable variant universe – and, in fact, exact, to-the-molecule duplicates – exists somewhere, “out there.” Not only that, but there are exact duplicates of me in other duplicate universes posting this exact same blog entry… along with all the other versions of me that are posting entirely other things (or, similar things worded differently). I’m sure the duplicates of you, reading this, are having the same reactions to reading this sentence as you are, too.
Metatextual jokes aside, the hilarious part to me, listening to this, was how easily I believed Brian’s “crazy” ideas. The whole time I was thinking, “this is like the multiverse concept in DC Comics… a concept propagated by every other version of DC Comics in all the other universes, too.” It led to some pretty funny moments throughout the podcast, which I’m sure was amusing to the other people riding the bus, as they inched further away from the giggling kid with the iPod at 8:30 in the morning.