Irate Volunteer - by Ken Freedman and Liz Berg
The therapist for a man suffering a significant degree of
brain damage from an auto accident contacted Station Manager Ken Freedman,
wanting to set up volunteer hours for the music-loving patient as part of his
recovery. Ken was happy to comply, and had the volunteer re-alphabetize records in
the WFMU library once a week. Staff members quickly learned that the volunteer
was not able to form any new short-term memories due to his condition.
Every week as DJ Bart Plantegna prepared for his experimental sound collage program, the volunteer would refile records, and go into fits about how he hated what Bart was listening to. He’d get angry and yell “What the hell is this horrible music? This is crap!” and “Where am I? This noise is awful!” The therapist would calm him down for a bit, but then after a few minutes, he’d go back into the same tirade all over again, since he didn’t remember going through it the first time. After 6 weeks of these repeated outbursts, the doctor decided that perhaps WFMU was counter-therapeutic.
Illustration by Mark Kaufman