About a month ago it struck me that I was approaching the 30th anniversary of my first solo program on college radio. After consulting the college catalog and ye olde internet, I deduced that I must have debuted on April 10, 1987. So here we are.
I'll have more to say about that when I post the sound file of the program I'm doing tonight, but because I enjoy punishment, I went up to the attic this past weekend and found an old show tape. It isn't the debut program, or even one from that academic term, or EVEN one from that calendar year, but it seems to capture some of the spirit of "young me" and that time. At least it will have to, because it's the oldest show tape I have!
It's summer, 1989, and I am 20 years old. I sound it! (Though I think maybe the cassette is playing a tiny bit faster than normal speed.) I also sound nervous and out of breath every time I speak, and self-critical without the self-effacing humor which is my trademark. What was happening to me? I almost never had any kind of plan back then; I would usually bring a small handful of my own records (and it was all records--we didn't bring CD players on board until about 1991, I think)--always including a few compilations--and then make decisions on the fly, running back and forth between the library (a small, small part of it pictured here) and the console. It could have been that. Let's go with that explanation.
Musically, it seems to me that this program is just chestnuts, wall to wall. I am probably biased, but I do remember repeating myself a lot, which makes it a greater shame that I don't have an earlier tape, from a time when it wasn't repetition. I seem to have been much more interested in the past then (albeit the recent past, although a year or two felt like a lifetime back then) than I am now. I certainly wasn't adhering to the station's "currency" rules, at least not during the part of the program captured by these 84 minutes. Music "added" at the station within the prior 3 months was supposed to comprise 30% of our playlists, but the only "current" I know of for sure on this tape is "Into the White," which Discogs tells me was a mere 11 days old at the time of this broadcast (then-GF and I would see the Pixies in San Francisco 3 and a half weeks later; I walked up to Joey Santiago in the bar and strangely he was not delighted to speak to me!) It's possible that Pay It All Back Volume 2 was fairly new to us down in the basement of Freeborn Hall, but I doubt it.
tl;dr this tape finds me doing pretty much exactly what I'd expect me to do. TWO This Mortal Coil songs?! FIVE On-U Sound tracks in the first 45 minutes? Whatever. I am surprised we don't hear from Cocteau Twins, Durutti Column, or Section 25, but I guess even I knew when I was going over the line (or, more likely, I had played them in the first 90 minutes of the program, not captured here).
Other notes: I left in the promo and underwriting spots. We used to have some legendary ads. I miss Sharon MacKenzie (am I spelling that correctly?) and her program. If I recall, she was music director for a while (and never dragged me about my playlists!). She also cracked everyone up in a station meeting this one time when she said, "everyone knows how much I love 7-inches." Maybe you had to be there. Also: Woodstock's Pizza is still a thing! They had better be, as I and everyone I knew gave them so much of our money over the years. I would love to tell you that my program had a high profile sponsor that had chosen me specifically, but our underwriting arrangements did not work that way and everyone was subject to the "luck" of the draw (you're welcome, Woodstock's).
I almost forgot: who is this "Q-TIP" fellow? Why, it's me, of course, with an ill-chosen DJ handle dating from 1987 (TWO YEARS BEFORE A TRIBE CALLED QUEST BECAME FAMOUS, I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW). The name was based on some haircut I must have been sporting at the time, or recently. There was a DJ at the station named "Ridgewood Ray," a slightly older fellow (probably early 30s, which of course meant old to me) who objected to the name. We were a non-commercial radio station, you see, so he insisted that I should call myself "Cotton Swab." I didn't take his advice. Ray was great--he had been at Tower Records in New York City on the day in 1980 when they were giving out free copies of Joy Division's "Komakino" flexidisc. He gifted me his copy because he could think of no one else at the station who'd appreciate it more than I would. He was right about this--and still is!
"Ernst and Deborah" were a couple, these two classical DJs who hated--HATED--following my program, but the program directors, seemingly, would always arrange the schedule so that they did (hmm). They--or one of them, anyway--lived next door to my then-GF's place as well. They got to hear every fight we had, and every other sort of episode. What they would have given to hear Tackhead instead, at any of those times!
Almost certainly I headed out of this program for a sweltering 200-yard walk to my afternoon shift at the Cafe of Regret, which, no doubt, will be the setting of a future tale. Just trying to set the scene for you.
Listening to this yesterday afternoon was a somewhat therapeutic experience for me, good and bad. I hope you get something out of it!
playlist, 1989 June 30, 1330-1500:
- "Dju Ya Feza" | Zazou / Bikaye / CY1 | It's A Crammed, Crammed, Crammed World! | Crammed Discs
- "Bedward the Flying Preacher" | Singers and Players | Staggering Heights | On-U Sound
- "Dateline Miami" | Judy Nylon | Pal Judy | On-U Sound
- "Turn the Heater On" | New Order | The Peel Sessions | Strange Fruit
- "Throw It Away" | African Head Charge | Pay It All Back Volume 2 | On-U Sound
- "Reality" | Tackhead | Reality | On-U Sound
- "Pressure" | 400 Blows | The Good Clean English Fist | Dojo
- "Circular Motion" | Forehead Bros | Pay It All Back Volume 2 | On-U Sound
- "Ha (Original Mix)" | The Anti-Group | Audio-Visual | Sweatbox
- "Social Studies" | David Byrne | Music for the Knee Plays | ECM
- "Drugs" | Talking Heads | Fear of Music | Sire
- "Sixteen Days - Gathering Dust" | This Mortal Coil | Sixteen Days - Gathering Dust | 4AD
- "Kangaroo" | Big Star | Third / Sister Lovers | PVC
- "Kangaroo" | This Mortal Coil | It'll End In Tears | 4AD
- "Bangkok" | Alex Chilton | The Lost Decade | Fan Club
- "Into the White" | Pixies | Here Comes Your Man | 4AD
- "Youthful Immortal" | Flux | Uncarved Block | One Little Indian
- "When You're Sad" | A.R.Kane | When You're Sad | One Little Indian
emerging from a long dark tunnel
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