TERRY "TK" FOLGER was an eccentric misanthrope, and one of WFMU's more mentally unhinged staffers. As a personality profile, these characteristics imply that TKF (by which he self-identified) was fun, when he wasn't self-destructive, and could be an unforgettable programmer, when not jeopardizing the station's license.
He arrived here around 1982. He would never have made it to WFMU had he not been a suicidal failure. In 1981, distraught over the murder of a Beatle, Folger leapt from the roof of the Chelsea Hotel, but miraculously wasn't united with his hero. What the 23rd Street pavement couldn't claim, AIDS did in April 1994, his infection reportedly traced to a contaminated blood transfusion. TKF was one of two staffers to die of immune deficiency syndrome just months apart (Val Sebastiano passed away in late 1993).
In his radio twilight, probably early '94, when his illness -- or meds -- triggered dementia, Folger spent a half-hour of late-night airtime haranguing listeners to send him drugs -- any drugs. "Haranguing" is euphemistic for screaming, pleading, cursing, and venting -- a tsunami of agitation. I heard the rant. It was shocking -- all the more so because his insistence was genuine. Folger had courted radio brinksmanship before; this time, he spiraled into the abyss. A suspension followed, largely for his own good, after which he quit or was dismissed. Don't know if there's a tape of his me-want-drugs tantrum, but audio exists of another legendary TKF debacle.
It was December 18, 1983 (the date scribbled on an archival cassette J-card). Terry was hosting an afternoon fill-in at our East Orange studios, in the basement of Upsala College's Froeberg Hall dorm. I was home in South Orange, probably otherwise preoccupied, the radio percolating in the background. I barely noticed an interview in progress, interspersed with vapid rock tracks. I didn't recognize the DJ, and assumed it was a rookie. I figured Terry's shift had ended earlier.
Check that -- he didn't need help. At least he wasn't calling for any. He just wanted to tell someone what was going on.
In the main studio, a small bulb near the mixing console lit up if a visitor was at the front door. Terry explained that the bulb had been blinking incessantly, as if someone was pulsing the button. Folger, who was alone on the premises, opened the door and was confronted with a four- or five-member band and their manager. They were called Tallowcross, and explained they'd been booked for an interview with the regular host of that slot. Folger knew nothing about it. He apologized, said he was busy, and discouraged the band from assuming that any such prior commitment was his responsibility. The band persisted; they'd traveled to East Orange for an interview, and weren't leaving. Folger, who could be stubborn and volatile, was within his rights to refuse the band admittance. An argument ensued. Probably a prolonged argument. Finally, disgusted with the futility of the situation, and outnumbered, Folger opened the door and ushered Tallowcross into the main studio. He switched on the air microphones -- then walked out.
The band was momentarily confused -- but not their manager, who quickly assumed the role of host/interviewer. This idiocy had been underway for a while when Folger called me. When I understood what was going on, I slapped in a cassette and captured part of the program. It might be the most moronic thing ever aired on the station. These addle-brained cretins rambled on about nothing of any consequence to anyone beyond their imaginary groupies, as the conversation swerved between boring and soporific. How insubstantial was the chit-chat? It was the broadcast equivalent of Lo-Fat Twinkies. Imagine a food product made out of crap -- and they remove the crap. What's left? If only the band's manager had figured out the phones and taken on-air questions from listeners. I had a few: Were they congenital assholes, or did it take years of diligence? Could I grow up and be like them if I spent ten hours a week huffing chemical solvents in a closed space? Does this interview have an expiration date?
Every ten minutes they exhaled long enough to hawk product, treating the ever-dwindling audience to their uni-testicled rock. Don't remember what Tallowcross sounded like, except they used more chords than Jandek. Two more, I think.
They blathered. Stupidity on parade. You'd think it had been, to that point, the band's pinnacle of celebrity.
In retrospect, you'd be right. They don't even merit a Google hit. Their historical footprint consists of this four-and-a-half-minute excerpt (MP3 for download), transferred from the original C90, the only keepsake one needs of these witless pinheads.
BONUS: Hear the Flipper/Tallowcross remix! (streaming Realaudio archive)