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October 17, 2006

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Station Manager Ken

For nearly twenty years, WFMU's studios were in the basement of a dormitory on the campus of Upsala College. We shared the basement with the college bookstore, and there was one bathroom between the station and the bookstore's offices. From time to time, one wall in that bathroom would get covered from floor to ceiling with snot. As we pondered the mystery, some folks theorized that it was actually rubber cement, but to my eye, there was no mistaking the human boogers, and the sheer quantity of them suggested that more than one culprit was at work.

Every time the bathroom wall got covered, I would diligently pull out a spackle blade and scrape the wall clean, but a few months later, the wall would again be covered. This went on for 4-5 years. We never found out who the mad nosepickers were, but once we moved out of that basement into an off-campus building on Springdale Avenue, we were never again plagued by the wall 'o snot. Perhaps the Upsala College bookstore staff had it in for us.

Last year, when the city of East Orange announced they were demolishing this building, we managed to gain entry into that basement, hoping to see some trace of WFMU's 20 years there - a logo, some graffiti, even a stray booger. But there was nothing. Just some scary squatters who had taken up residence upstairs. After we vacated that basement in 1989, the college started a gut renovation of the space which was never completed. Everything had been torn out, right down to the booger wall.

bartelby

If you haven't seen the former Upsala campus in the last few months, let me telll you, it is flattened. The major portion of the campus, across from the buildings converted by the East Orange School District is entirely gone and will be made into tract housing. The Upsala buildings hve beeen ground into gravel which lays in heaps on the campus, so it's not enttirely flattened. I amm not sure what measures were taken with regards to boogers, however there is more Earth moving equippment there than I have ever seen in NJ. The homes reportedly will be going for 400K. It's unclear who will pay that much to live in EO.

John Fink

I worked for a student radio station in Ohio from 1991-1996. Even though I graduated from college in 1995, I hung around to work in the years afterward and lied about being a student just so I could continue working in radio -- I loved it that much.

No real interesting or thrilling stories, certainly no wall o' boogers, but the one thing I remember fondly was continued exhortation on the part of station management (including nascent broadcasting czar Chris Rose) to not deface any of the albums.

In the early 90s, vinyl had yet to attract the attention of hipsters, or maybe there just weren't any Andy Breckman-style sad hippies around Ohio at that time, and my show was just about the only one that ever went back into the vinyl vault, which had tons and tons and tons of great stuff, just tremendous albums that blew my tiny mind. All of them were defaced in some way or another by distant DJs past, whether it was giant arrows pointing to the bulging crotch on the cover of some forgotten late 80s rap DJ, or the message "PLAY THIS IF YOU WANT TO RUIN YOUR SHOW" in big block letters on Shonen Knife's debut US LP. I played it, and my show wasn't ruined.

The radio station is still around and still attracts the cheerfully crusty and weird amidst the otherwise well-scrubbed students, but if I understand correctly most/all of the music is now in an iTunes database. Which is well and good, and certainly cuts down on theft -- which was a really big problem in my day -- but I can't help but feel that some of the tactile magic of handling actual physical items is lost with the new setup. Or maybe I'm just old.

Liz B.

There's also some sordid bathroom lore surrounding the men's room next to KDVS (my old college station, located in the basement of the campus student center). Being of XX persuasion, I never witnessed the Lower Freeborn men's room firsthand, but plenty of male KDVS DJs told legends of glory holes, explicit graffiti, weird noises, and um, bodily fluids dried onto stall doors. Someone once told me that the restroom was listed as a cruising spot on a local gay message board, but I never quite believed that story: the basement's entryway was pretty hidden, and also locked during off-hours.

Other campus organizations in Lower Freeborn also had access to this bathroom, so blame for it's shady reputation doesn't lie entirely upon the shoulders of KDVS's male constituency. Perhaps the campus barber was/is responsible? The student newspaper staff? The campus bowling alley pin retrievers? The university graphic designers?

Maybe one of you KDVS dudes can lend some insight...

Fatherflot

From 1996-1998 I convinced WFHB, the independent freeform station in Bloomington, Indiana, to let me put on a surreal retro-rock program called "Flot's Spot"----kind of a combination of "The Hound" and Kenny G, with lots of self-produced fake commercials, strange audio loops, hypnosis tapes playing just below the surface of the mix, etc. For a station like WFHB, which specialized in fairly straightforward "American roots" programming, it was a very odd show, but even more odd was the decision by heroic program manager Jim Manion to move the show from its original late Saturday Night slot to a Saturday afternoon, from 5-7pm, AKA "The Bar-B-Q hour."

This was originally a summer fill-in move to replace the weekly "Greatful Dead Hour," in which a fat reeking hippy dude would simply pop in a cassette and put up his feet for 20 minutes, do a station ID, and then un-pause the cassette, put up his feet for 20 minutes, etc. We were paying for the show and when they raised the price of the weekly cassette, we balked and Jim stuck me in this prime spot.

My show was as far away from the previous occupant of that slot as I could arrange to get. I was in graduate school at the time and had no life outside the research library, so my show became the entire focus of my non-academic existence. I would spend the entire week self-producing dadist commericals (a sandwich spread called "Puppy Butter," a musical coming to town entitled "Tova Borgnine's Big Fat Ass," a spot for "The Byzantine Empire---more than just incense and onion domes!"), I would scour the university and town music libraries for strange bits of audio for collages, borrow tons of obscure garage, rockabilly, and sleazy R&B records from various friendly music stores in town (in exchange for free plugs on the air), and write out entire scripts of on-air bits. I would go to the local southern Indiana events (line dances, livestock auctions, dirt track races) with a cassette recorder and record the sounds I found there, sometimes improvising live reports which were later mixed into the show. I would also record myself reading from texts I was dealing with in my academic life, like Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinus, Pensees by Pascal, and other such bodice-ripping stuff.

It would take me all day to prepare for my show. I would load my ENTIRE audio collection (LPs, 45's, CD's, Tapes, computer files) into my car and unload it all in the hallway outside the studio. I had a laptop computer loaded with sound effects and snippets of audio from the internet and a CD-Rom player with a talking dictionary attached, I also had a text-generator program which rendered any typed text into robotic speech. The piece-de-resistance was a crate of self-hypnosis tapes that a friend from the station has rescued from her dad's attic. I had a dedicated cassette player running these all during the show at an extremely low level, not loud enough to interfere with the rest of the mix, but enough to occasionally rise out of it and freak out listeners. I had more than one caller complain that I was trying to "use the public airwaves to hypnotise listeners"---best tribute ever. Oh, I also ran my mike through a guitar delay pedal to get an extreme slap-back "inside an oil drum" mike sound.

Needless to say, setting up and running this show every week (with absolutely no assistance) was totally exhausting as well as exhilarating. The studio became a pinball machine always on the edge of "tilt." I always had at least 3-4 "layers" in the mix, and sometimes a lot more than that. I've heard audio collage shows like this, but what was different about mine was that the basic conceit was "surreal 60's top-40 AM radio" so it had to be very fast-moving and very, very tight. Most of the songs I played lasted less than three minutes, so it was very demanding to keep all the balls in air.

Of course it didn't always work! I probably had more "train wreck" shows in three years than a lifetime of Andy Breckman and Kenny G put together. Still it was unique and had a cult following. I've got tons of those shows archived as MP3's, by the way, if anyone is interested in hearing what the entire mess sounded like.

This is all a set up for my most notorious on-air moment--the day I finally went over the line.

My show happened to be on opposite "Prarie Home Companion", which was broadcast by Indiana Uniersity's NPR station. At some point I got the idea of morphing my DJ persona into a kind of Howard Stern character who was obsessed with "kicking Garrison Keillor's ass" in the local ratings. For weeks, I went on anti-Keillor rants, claiming that I was "beating him in the key demos," that my "fans" were harassing him with phony phone calls, and announcing plans to hold a public funeral for Keillor when "the new ratings book come out." I finally pushed it too far when I began tuning into NPR live and putting Keillor's show into my own mix and mocking him with various audio responses, like a robotic voice repeating "assclown" after everything he said.

Someone from the NPR station accidentally tuned into our signal (which was nearby on the dial) and heard this and raised holy hell. My program manager, who had, up to that point, showed unbelieveable toleration for my on-air hijinks, called me up in a furor and reamed me out, screaming about how we were going to lose our broacast licence and how he would have to go down to the NPR station and formally apologize, etc. etc. That was the end of that particular gag.

But I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. It was definitely the most fun I've ever had in my life. It also gave me perspective on how much work and dedicate it takes to do a weekly freeform show. I did it for less than three years and it nearly killed me (one time my dad visited me on air and saw me in such a manic state that he seriously discussed my checking in with a mental health professional). I have no idea how people like Glen Jones and Bill Kelly have been able to keep it up so long.

toober

I was at WMSE, owned by an engineering school, so there was no sex anywhere, let alone the station.

jima

The station manager at our radio station was in the studio on a Sunday night when the ladies that had the gospel music program were unable to come in, so he just put on a random CD to fill the air. Unfortunately he chose Hot Nuts & Lollypops, a collection of risque blues songs. He wasn't quite paying attention to the songs, so the majority of the CD was played before I called his attention to the matter. I always wondered how many people, hoping for some divine inspiration, tuned into the station only to hear Lucille Bogan's "Shave 'Em Dry" instead.

Krys O.

Hilarity would ensue when I would tell other Upsala College students that I worked at the radio station on campus. There's a radio station in the basement of the dorms? They had nary a clue and almost didn't believe me.

And there's that one time that I pledged a sorority (yes, I confess) and Hell Week happened during the FMU Marathon. I got practically no sleep AND I had to wear a stoopid non-phat beanie on me head whilst walking around on campus. Suffice it to say, I did not wear the beanie at the station when I volunteered to answer phones.

yragentman

it was a dark and stormy night in the basement studio of WCBN. I was on the air during the first fund raiser ever. Guests were Ron Ashton, Niagra, Johnny Thunders and various hangers on.

Ron was auctioning off one of the elbow length lame gloves wore by Iggy during the Raw Power days. Johnny was attempting to fire up some "cabbage opium" which he claimed was a facsimile drug made from cabbage with similar results as the real thing. One of the hangers on was getting quite beligerent. Things were getting pretty hectic. I went to a record to take phone calls and pledges.

Going back on the air to announce some quality bids on the glove, the hanger on went too far and fellow DJ Laura clocked him in the chops with a stiff right sending him sitting onto the record currently spinning to air.

Quoth Ron, "There's some serious attitude going down here".

The hanger on was expelled, a new record spun, "order" restored and the glove sold for a rightgeously forgotten amount.

RIP Johnny

The Contrarian

As a teenager growing up in Union County in the 1980s, I couldn't wait until I went to college so I can realize my lifelong dream of being a college radio DJ (life sorta sucks after you realize that dream at 18). I was weaned on WFMU, WRSU in New Brunswick and the distant signal of WPRB in Princeton. My Catholic college's radio station was pretty much a joke, broadcasting to an indifferent campus on an AM carrier current signal so poor it would make The Professor cry. Hey, I did get to host a show with current indie rock heartthrob Ted Leo back then and give away edible underwear to a lucky caller.

After graduation, I got to fill for vacationing students over the summer at WRSU and then approached Station Manager Ken for a DJ slot on WFMU. I was insanely nervous when I recorded a sample show on cassette. Ken's advice to me was to "talk less," admitting that many of the WFMU DJ's kissed the radio Blarney Stone a few too many times (sorry if this gets you into hot water, Ken).

I did a few overnight shows in East Orange, ringing the back doorbell and then waiting for what seemed like an hour in a desolate neighborhood until I was let in. When I wasn't on the air, I spent subsequent hours - maybe weeks - in the WFMU record library, armed with cassette tapes and violating RIAA rules as I was let loose to run amok in an orgy of obscure records and CDs.

I think I had two callers during my brief stint on WFMU. My first caller was a guy driving back to Monmouth County from a wedding in New York City. Boy, was I thrilled to know that I had a fan.

Station Manager Ken

yragentman, I guess we were at WCBN during the same period.

I also have a Ron Asheton story from CBN.

It was the overnight shift the November night after Sid murdered Nancy. The news had broken that afternoon, so my brother and a friend and I recorded a version of "Hey Joe" for the occasion, called "Hey Sid." The show went on from there, with sound effects-based reenactments of the murder, lots of calls, nobody being particularly respectful of the Spungen family.

Among the listeners that night were the Destroy All Monsters contingent that yragentman refers to. Ron Asheton was particularly drunk and irate, and he called me numerous times to complain that I was "equating rock and roll with violence." In fact, he was so upset that I was equating rock and roll with violence, that he threatened to come down to the CBN studios and kill me. He ended up calling me all night, telling me that when I left the studio that night, he'd be outside waiting for me.

His calls finally stopped around 5am. I left the studio at 7am or so, the most paranoid walk to the car I've ever had.

-ken

David

Ken, if you still have a tape of that song you guys made, how much would your brother pledge to FMU if you promise to never embarrass him by playing it on air? What with him being in a more 'respectable' profession than you and all...

ted

I'm currently a DJ at WYBC-AM, Yale University's under-funded and much-neglected radio station. We used to broadcast FM until the corporation decided to turn the FM station into an "adult urban contemporary" station, and relegate the students to AM. Needless to say, nobody at Yale has a radio, let alone an AM radio. Mostly I'm broadcasting to nobody. Our studio is in the FM building, so it's about as far from the college radio vibe as possible.

Last week I was playing Steve Reich's "Come Out" on my show, when the station manager stormed into my studio and yelled at me for about three minutes because "my CD was skipping and I didn't even notice it or bother to fix it for 10 minutes!"

I wonder what'll happen if I play Merzbow? Maybe I'll get kicked off. Who knows....


fatty Jubbo

When I was 15, I would call into a particular show (frank bridges) on WRSU pretending to be a character named "Bob The Refrigerator Repair Man". For some reason the DJ entertained my comedy bit and it developed into me calling every week.

When I first starting doing this character, a friend and I would talk on the phone for a while brainstorming various ideas for the call. "Bob" was based on your generic hick character who had a new side-hobby every week such as running a daycare center, fiding "Love" and becoming a "Magic Pixie", collecting his own urine. Although "Bob" prided himself on being a pick-up driving model-A Ameican citizen, he usually had some kids chained up in the basement that he would sing patriotic songs with. My "funny voice" was my pathetic New Jersey attempt at a southern accent- sounding more black than anything else. My catchprase was "that's right...thas right". I was told that some local New Brunswick band (transylvia, i think?) used this sample in one of their songs. I never got to hear it though.

I eventually ran out of ideas with the Bob character and moved on to "Harold- The Pimply Faced Metallica Fan" that was sort of a Beevis & Butthead character who hung out at the Bridgewater Commons Mall trying to pick up ladies at the Sam Goody. "Harold" also played awesome screechingly incompetent atonal cover versions of Metallica songs on his guitar and collected "Marlboro Miles" for prizes. Eventually, my mother forgot to pay the phone bill and the phone was turned off for about a year- so I would trudge down to the corner store pay phone to place these calls...listening back to the "Harold" tapes...the pre-recorded voice asking for more change over the line was the funniest part.

Mike Lupica

My college radio experience was unique in that I was a townie (I.E. non-student) DJ at WPRB (Princeton) for 10 years. During the summers, most of the students would leave town anyway, leaving the station in the hands of the few, most dedicated officers and the stereotypically cranky townie (or "community", as some called them) DJs.

WPRB's studios used to be housed in the basement of a 150+ year old dormitory. Dank, dark, dirty, and loaded up with faulty plumbing. One summer, just prior to my show, I heard a strange noise coming from down the hall from the studio. Peeking around the corner, I saw water spilling out from underneath the doorway of the women's bathroom. Realizing it was mid-August and that my co-host and I were likely the only people in the entire building, I pushed into the bathroom and saw one of the more alarming sites of my life.

Water. Not so much spilling out of a toilet as much as it was ROCKETING out of one with such force as to hit the ceiling, all geyser-like, obvioulsy the result of a ruptured water pipe under the building somewhere. My 20-something year old brain couldn't help but wonder if anyone had been sitting on the toilet at the time of the break, and if so, where the remnants of their body had washed away to...

Another summer, I got stuck with the dubious honor of a Sunday night 1-6 AM timeslot, during which I'd usually start passing out at around 3:30. To help remedy this, the song "Lady Cab Driver" became a common staple of my program because it was long enough for me to run down the hall and take a cold shower in the men's bathroom to help keep myself going. (It is this kind of stupid dedication that gives college radio its charm, I think.
Not only was I silly enough to care deeply about my 4 or 5 regular listeners to stay up all night for them, I was also willing to nude up and freeze myself to death at their behest.) One night, however, I forgot my towel, and learned (the hard way) about why it's not a good idea to dry yourself off with wads of college restroom-grade toilet paper, which disintegrated all over my body and hardened into small, white clumps as I continued my show.

What else...

Fire drills in the middle of microphone breaks. My (female) co-host and I giving away a heavily stained, DDD-cup bra that we bought at a rummage sale as an on-air "prize". Watching Sounds of the Underground DJ Marc Coleman change records mid-show with his bare toes. Having to hurdle the fist-sized, armored cockroaches that would occasionally appear in the hall (out of fear, I once hurled a full Snapple bottle at one in the hallway, and it didn't break off its charge towards me...). 3 AM drives to the transmitter shack to manually shut it down when the remote was broken. (The shack was an eerie, isolated, over-air conditioned shed that was inexplicably teeming with spiders.) Round-table arguments (usually at the Crystal Diner in Trenton) over the best and crappiest 7" singles in that week's mail haul. All the grafitti-scarred LPs, especially the years-long feminist debate that erupted on the cover of Olivelawn's "Sap" LP, Corey's one-line review of the first Les Thugs single ("Not bad for a bunch of Frogs"), and the curious way in which the mysterious phrase "Blagga Blagga" was written on the cover of nearly every aggro-sounding LP from The Germs to Generation X. Pissing off my friend Brian whose (noise) show followed my program for years by announcing that he'd be playing all third wave ska. The bat that flew into my hair while on yet another bathroom break. The hours logged racing back from Maxwell's in order to make it onto a
friend's show with a concert report before s/he shut the station down for the night. The signoff cart featuring the sleepy, sultry strains of "Wind in the Rigging" by Young Marble Giants. Hearing the signoff cart over the air at 3 AM and then getting out of bed to drive to the station and turn it back on for an hour or two of self-indulgent noise or drunken requests from callers. Greg Lyon crashing my show drunk and giving a live play-by-play of Mark E. Smith getting his lights punched out by other members of the Fall on stage at a show in Philly. All the inspiring fellow-DJs I've either lost contact with or still maintain nominal touch with like Jen Moyse, Sean Murphy, Jon Solomon, Corey Magnell, Ethan Stein, Ken Katkin, Tim O'Reilly, Justin Goh, Stephanie Obodda, Marc Coleman, Matthew Robb, Adam Gottlieb, Arthur Fenno, the guy who wore all the cologne, Martha Hurley, Greg Lyon, Mr. Mike Shmelzer, Sean Dockray, Slammin' Sam, Dr. Cosmo, Dave Klein, Brian Farmer, Jessie Nagel, Cousin Dave Mills, John Clements, Arthur Purvis, Donny Pecano, Dave Morris, Julia Factorial, Dan Gabbe, Hugh Hynes, Aaron Forest, Aaron Jackson, Peg Laird, Maura.com, Phil Taylor, Eric Weisbard, Zora O'Neill, Greg Savage, "The Hairy Dog", Dan DiMaggio, John Eastridge, Rockin' Tim Kastelle, Evan Bates, Art Andrews, Josh Goldfein, Scott Crater, The Guy Who Stole My Bike, Megan Caffrey, Helen Petroff, Dan Ruccia, Wilbo Wright, Matt Traub, Joey Mono, John Weingart, Caroline O'Meara, Jannon Stein, the whole "Thanks IV Sharin" cast, Courtney Lockemer, Zack who moved to Portland and was never seen again, and anybody else I've forgotten who might stumble into this while googling "themselves + WPRB".

James

I don't have any crazy radio story, but I had an experience similar to the one John Frink writes about. I DJ'd for a year at the Rutgers-Newark station, WRNU. The station was tiny, and the DJs played mostly whatever promo CDs came in that week. But the station's vinyl library (though on the small side) included some amazing indie/punk artifacts. Lots of stuff that would probably fetch good money at a WFMU record fair (including, I swear, at least 20 Residents LPs and every obscure SST record imaginable), but the one WRNU item that astonished me was the only album by Between Meals (a Half Japanese related band), -Oh No I Just Knocked Over a Cup of Coffee-. I have not seen another copy since (and, no, I didn't walk off with it, even though I knew no one at the station would have missed it). None of the other DJs, as far as I knew, ever played anything from the vinyl library, and I'd guess all of those great LPs are still there.

Regarding WPRB in Princeton - when I was a student at the College of New Jersey, I mostly skipped their station (WTSR) to listen to WPRB. That's how great it was.

Josh

I was engineer of the little Part 15 piece-o-crap at my college. We had little interest in shows; I was the main show person. At other times we just fed through an area rock-playing community station. That Optimod would go crazy every time the rap show came on the community station and would knock the part 15 FM off the air and also knock it off of the audio channel of the "Information Board" channel on the college cable TV. The white noise of the FM dropping off would awaken me from my slumber and send me waddling (sometimes barefoot) from my dorm room to the station (which nobody was listening to anyway), cursing and all. I burned my finger soldering new caps on the Optimod and once threw a temper-tantrum throwing old carts donated by a local station out the window....but I always get misty-eyed thinking about the "old girl."

Deborah

So many stories from my time at WFMU (Free form days...dorm, Old Yellow House,Avatar house)including the Enema Lady when the delay did not work or was not there, the 12 drugs of Christmas tape, Artie Scotchead's phone calls, my radio gig, Changes...and more....infamous and ineffectual station managers, sit-ins in the Upsala president's office and lastly, being removed for political activity. Fun!!!!

l'il miss leather

I spent the early 90's at WSOU, where I learned to unleash my (previously unknown) inner metalhead. (Though those were fallow years for the metal scene- our new bin was filled with stuff like the Smashing Pumpkins and KMFDM and nth-generation New York Hardcore like Life of Agony.) Anyhoo, the station Old-Timers liked to sit around, smoke weed and reminisce about the 80s, and how great it was to be metal then. And man, would those folks smoke. I remember being at a party at the SOU house, which was right across South Orange Avenue from the school, conveniently located next to a liquour store and Cluck-U Chicken. At about two-thirty in the morning, everyone was sitting around watching the Little Mermaid (Seriously. The Little Mermaid. Metalheads secretly dig Disney movies.), when a van jumped the curb outside and landed on the front porch. No one was fazed. Bummer, man.

My favorite anecdote was the Time Ace Frehley Threw Up In the Bathroom. There was no photo evidence of this, but there was audio- what I liked to call the Best Station ID Ever. I would play that cart all the time, even if I wasn't playing KISS. It went kinda like this: "Hee-ey rock & rollersh! The comet hasch la-ned ri' here on Aieghy nigh pernt fi FM Duhyou Esh O U. So don't toush tha dial." Ten second pause. "Rock On!" I should have taken it with me when I graduated. Those kids, they don't appreciate Frehley's Comet.

Oh, and last month, our jerk of a Faculty Advisor was sentenced to 5 years in prison for embezzling over $500,000 from the station over the course of his tenure there. He kept two sets of books to hide the underwriting money he was pocketing and his unauthorized leasing of sub-frequencies. Real nice Mr. Collazo. Asshole.

Jon Solomon

I am pretty sure that Les Thugs review was penned by Josh Goldfein...

Because of Ken Katkin, whenever I say the band name Les Thugs I always follow with "you know, that's French for The Thugs."

tilden

Well, back in 1976/1977 I worked at KHDX, Hendrix College, Conway Arkansas -- the Ten-Watt Roar (station motto: More Bizarrer Than Real). The program director had two rules:
1) If it was on the top forty in the previous five years, you couldn't play the song.
2) If you absolutely had to play a song which had been on the top forty, you could if:
a) you played the entire LP side that contained the song
-OR-
b) you played the song at the wrong speed

Emerson Dameron

I was a DJ at WUOG-FM, the student-run station at the University of Georgia. During summer breaks, I would sign up for huge gaps of airtime and play insipid thrift-store easy-listening and Miami Booty Bass (both often at the wrong speeds), which I back-announced through an electronic megaphone. I also DJed at a pirate station in North Carolina, whereon myself and a few other DJs got profoundly wasted and played "The UN Game" on-air. (If there exists a tape of this show, it's one of the few audio recordings on earth I'd pay to see destroyed.) At this point, I've been involved in non-commercial radio, off-and-mostly-on, for 12 years, and I've always gone out of my way to piss off my less sympathetic listeners. However, I was only threatened with physical violence once, when I innocently played a Will Oldham record.

ralph

I used to enjoy pissing off listeners, too, in my years at the late, lamented WDFM (now NPR-affiliated WPSU) at Penn State back in the early 80s. Probably my favorite was the four hour long "John and Ralph Total Anarchy Doom and Destruction Hour, with special guest, The Fuzzy Bat" show where my partner in crime and I set up a tape loop on the two reel-to-reel recorders in the control room. The bottom deck recorded whatever was going out over the air. Instead of connecting the tape to a take-up reel, I threaded it through the second machine just above it, which, after a delay of something like ten seconds, played back what had been recorded on the air, which was then of course recorded by the first deck, along with whatever was feeding in from the microphone. We brought a bunch of noise makers and finger cymbals and nascent electronic toys and gizmos into the studio and just made noise for four hours. I was the program director at the time, and I remember one particular call where a friend of the music director called to complain about how terrible the show was and that she hoped the music director would never allow us on the air again. Given that I was the music director's boss and my partner was her boyfriend (and later husband), there wasn't much chance of that happening. The caller just hung up on me when I mentioned that.

The show following us at five P.M. was a classical music show. When the show's host showed up (a very sweet young lady who didn't deserve this), she laughed and asked us to make sure we promoed her show. So we did, and repeated her name over and over until the loop took over, repeating her name amid the ever-increasing static for the last ten minutes of our show until she took the reins.

One of my broadcasting professors heard the show on his way home that afternoon and mentioned to me the next day how much he enjoyed it. I briefly had a cassette of part of the show, but my co-host asked to borrow it so he could dub a copy and never returned it to me.

Another piss-off-the-listeners special was my remix of Thomas Dolby's supremely annoying "She Blinded Me with Science", a very popular song at the time. The Guest Scientist on the track had one bit that went "Science! Sci-sci-science!". On the principle that too much of a bad thing is never enough, I spent a few hours in the production studio extending that little bit of the song to something like six minutes. After handling the six or seven phone calls telling me the record was skipping, I announced that this was an Instant Replay Replay replay and played it again.

WDFM/WPSU was taken over by the university's communications department a year or two after I left, mainly because of the actions of the Station Manager the year I was PD (and the year after). I actually quit as PD because we couldn't get along. After I left, he and his new hand-picked lackey decided that free-form block programming was a bad idea, and they moved to a format that had about a 100 song playlist drawn from all the kinds of programming the station had previously aired, with what you played generated by a random number generator on the campus mainframe. It sounded more unlistenable than anything I could come up with. (I have nothing against wide-ranging music on a single program, but the computer was a lousy DJ.) Unfortunately for them, to do this, they axed all the specialty programs, including the hip-hop program, which was one of the few successful community building tools for the tiny African-American community in lily-white State College. When you're affiliated with a college, the last thing on Earth you want to do is draw the attention of the administration. This move drew their attention big time, and they responded by changing the end-of-term dates for station officers so that the Station Manager and Program Director were ousted pretty much immediately. That was satisfying (as was the full week of op-eds in the campus newspaper about the station; they had originally planned to do a day's worth, but got so many submissions that they extended it). I think it was about a year after that that the University decided to do away with the pesky problem of student-run radio. I had graduated and left town by that point.

Eric Mcneely

I'm a DJ at WUSC FM Columbia, University of South Carolina's free format station. I've only been a DJ for a year but am now a member of the exec staff (librarian is not a glamorious job) and I hear a lot of crazy stories from the people that have been there for awhile. Hopefully some crazy stuff will happen to me lol.

The only story I really have is hearsay but we've gotten at least one guy thrown in jail for harrassment. We refered to him as the "Term Paper Guy" who would continualy call our late night female DJs and promise to write term papers for them in exchange for fellacio and other various sexual acts. Needless to say we had to put a stop to it and thanks to caller ID (why do ppl not think about that nice little invention when harrassing ppl on the phone?) we got a restrainer order, but Term Paper Guy wouldn't stop and OH wouldn't you know he calls back, cops pick him up for breaking the restraining order and he goes off to jail!

SKM

Speaking of pissing listeners off, I killed off the sunday afternoon opera show at WPRB one summer -- after being grumped at the week before by an old woman for my inability to pronounce German titles. My response was a three-hour noisefest thematically linked by the Dead C and usually featuring 3-4 simultaneous audio sources ... "Sister Ray" sounds pretty good at 28 RPM. Then there was the time I got stuck covering for the rap DJs one Thursday night -- I played the Michael Jackson narration of "ET the Extraterrestrial" and still received the standard array of shoutouts from people clearly not listening to their radios.

He's no Ace Frehley, but Sonic Boom puked in our bathroom, cancelled his live interview/performance, and then was ridiculed on the air for the next 30 minutes while he was in transit to perform on Coney Island...

Seriously, though, college/community radio is what got me through high school in Boston (learning from the good people at WHRB, WZBC, and most importantly WMBR) and college (with the help of many, including Messrs. Lupica and Solomon above) and law school (helping get WSUM-Madison launched). The passion I learned through radio continues to drive me to do things like drive 2 hours each way to see a 45-minute show (Long Blondes this summer in Philly) or spend hours listening to archived shows that I always miss in real time or stay up way past my bedtime writing posts like this one. I honestly can't imagine my life without the experiences and the people of college radio.

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