Mar 192010

Let’s go way back, a little more than 3 years from today, for this one. Looking back, what strikes me about this thread are two things: 1) how few of the respondents we hear from these days and 2) how few Townspeople actually responded to say they were college DJs. I would have thought we’d have more college DJs in the Halls of Rock. Perhaps those of you who were hanging back then were shy. I know YOU’RE not shy today, Townspeople circa March 2010! Let’s hear it: juicy stories, proud segues, interviews, on-air suspensions, and the like will be especially cherished.

This post initially appeared 3/1/07.

Townsman Michael K made the following mention in a post on Thursday:

Like many of us in this town hall (I assume), I was a college DJ…

I suspect what he said is the truth. How ’bout you, Townspeople? Were you a college DJ? Any particularly tasty stories to share? Proudest segues? Any regrets? Did you ever save a life?

Cue it up, and bring it on!


  23 Responses to “I Was a College DJ”

  1. I was a college radio DJ from 1988 until a few years ago, on CJAM 91.5FM (Windsor/Detroit). I had all kinds of shifts (in my last 5 years, it was the 10pm -12am shift on Friday nights, prime-time!) but the worst was the 2am-6am shift! Our station was based in a trailer for a year or two while they were building an on-campus student centre to house everything in, so there were no bathrooms open, and the trailer was cold as heck during the winter months. When a friend of mine interviewed Mila Jovovich on his show (when she was in her “acoustic” pop persona phase around Blue Lagoon II, probably;) she was nearly mobbed by guys trying to get her autograph, and one of the assistants at the station kept coming in to put back CDs in the on-air room while the interview was going on just to be in the room until Mila herself finally said “Can you get this guy OUT of here!” We also had characters named The Dragon (a constant caller – called to harass the women of the station mostly, and rant or yell at anyone who picked up the phone) and a guy named Benelyn Kevin who filtered codeine out of cough syrup and was host of the Phencycledine Show;) There were plenty of characters and when I first started, we didn’t have as many CDs, mostly vinyl! Only in later years did they start to store the vinyl and make more CD shelving… sadly, with the arrival of turntablists a lot of the times needles were constantly being stolen on night shifts during the hip hop shows, so for a few years, the turntables were pretty obsolete until they got new ones and started being watchdogs about it. I still have the carted commercial for my show, and I don’t think they stopped using reel to reel pre-tapings either, until about 2002(!)

  2. Oooh – and did anyone have The Subgenius Hour of Slack on their station? Praise Bob!

  3. Favourite segue: Buzzcocks “Orgasm Addict” to The Forgotten Rebels “Hello Hello (I’m Back Again)”

  4. I was a DJ. I got fired. Twice.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    My partner, Karl, and I got suspended from our graveyard DJ stint at WNUR numerous times. We had a lot of fun, and I believe our 7 listeners dug it too. We’d spend a lot of time talking trash about personalities on the station, doing freeform jams with turntables and live instruments, and even playing records. My most memorable moment was taking the air while tripping – solo – during a big “flashback weekend” the station used to do every year. Karl was running late. I ws incredibly nervous, so after opening with “Frownland” I cued up side 1 of Terry Riley’s “In C” and did my best to collect my thoughts. Karl showed up halfway through the album side, also tripping. I don’t remember much more about that show, but everything we played that night sounded better than usual.

  6. I was a DJ. I got fired. Twice.

    For what? Please elaborate.

  7. I was a college dj at Stonehill College 91.3 FM from 1990-1993.
    I began with an “alternative” show from 1-4 am (newbies get the crappy shifts). Every week we’d get this heroin-addict guy that would call and request Howard Jones’ “What Is Love” and he would sing it to us in this long drawn out whine and we’d go into hysterics. He’d get really really angry and keep calling in if you didn’t play it right away.
    There were these things called “Adventure Picks” that we were required to play once an hour – and a local band called Spinning Jenny was on it. Apologies if you know them – but god they SUCKED. The girlfriends of the band would call in at least four times an hour s requesting their songs. It was annoying.
    Later on, I graduated to a 7-10 am show and would wake everyone up with my sign on song – Revolting Cocks “Beers, Steers and Queers”. Good times.
    My senior year I converted the format of my show to Industrial/Experimental. It was a 10pm-1am show and I loved it. I won an award – and have proof –

  8. “For what? Please elaborate.” (Sorry, can’t get the quotes thing to work – something about “raw data error”…)

    The first time was during my first semester. I really wanted a radio show, but the only one available was a metal show. OK, fine. I let my partner and next-door-dorm neighbor take care of most of the metal part, while I put in some punk rock, old stuff like Deep Purple, BOC, and Black Sabbath, as well as whatever death metal cookie-monster band had the funniest CD cover or song title that week.

    One night, I found a 30-second card of a Prince song – dunno which one. I used it as a segue between songs, and before the 30 seconds were up, I got an irate phone call by a listener who screamed “Cut that faggot shit! That’s not metal, asshole!”

    Recognizing an opportunity, I announced (after the next song) that I had had a complaint about the Prince bit, so I played it again. I got another phone call from a different irate listener, so I played it again. I must have played it 15 times during the last hour of the show, and after a while, we had to take the phone off the hook because it would not stop ringing. We got canned the next morning.

    I’ll post about the second time in a bit…

  9. The second time was, oddly enough, during my last semester. I hadn’t wanted anything to do with the station after the Prince incident, but a friend of mine wanted someone else on his show. So, he convinced me to do it, and there I was.

    We didn’t have a specific type of music we played, which was nice. We had a good variety going for the first few weeks, and a fair amount of listeners who would call in requests. (Once, we announced that anyone who could call in and name the song we were playing would win a bunch of posters. The song was Andy Griffith’s version of “House Of The Rising Sun”. A girl did call in and request fIREHOSE – we obliged – but when we asked her if she knew who was doing the song, she said “No, and I don’t care to,” then hung up.)

    Then, things changed. The program director – a dweeb with truly horrid musical taste – insisted that one out of every three songs played come from a stack he selected. His selections were invariably awful, and I haven’t seen ONE of them come up for critical re-evaluation.

    We met him halfway. We would play the songs, comment on them while they were playing, and sometimes abruptly yank them. This didn’t sit will with him, so he gave us a verbal warning. We laughed, and it was business as usual the next week.

    Then, we got a written warning the week after that. After discussing it, we decided we’d had enough of this tool. We read our written warning word-for-word over the air, and invited listeners to call in and comment.

    This was the last straw. We were informed via a third person – the dweeb was unwilling to confront us in person, allegedly out of (unjustified) fear of physical violence – that we would not be on the following week. Oh well…

  10. I was on-air at WPSU (Penn State, University Park) from 1984-1986. I had a music-junkie friend who had a 12am-3am shift playing “New Music” (anything non-mainstream really) and I desperately wanted to do that as well. One night I stopped by and hung out with him during his show and at about 2am he got a phone-call from the station manager telling him that the 3am-6am guy wasn’t going to make it. My friend told him that I could do the show. But I had never so much as cued-up a record in my life, and supposedly you had to have a training session, etc. Somehow the manager agrees to let me do it, so my friend spends the last hour of his shift giving me a crash course. And I did the show. I have no idea how it went, all I know is that I had such a buzz. And I was asked if I wanted to keep the 3am-6am for the rest of the semester. Of course I did.

  11. I moved on to a 12am-3am shift and ultimately to the coveted Friday 6pm shift which meant that I did not have to follow any playlist at all. Loved that. Not too many wacky things happened that I can recall, but during one semester I invited the aforementioned friend to co-host the Friday 6pm show with me. We decided to bill it as the “Friday Night Happy Hour” show, which meant (naturally) that we would have to meet at Zeno’s (bar) for a pitcher or two before the show. We took pride on playing music and not pulling any wacky stunts or anything, and we opened and closed every shows with the Ramones. And I recorded almost every show, so I have this big box of tapes to remember the entire experience. My voice sounds goofy to me now, but the tunes sound just as great as they did then.

  12. I have no interesting stories about my college radio show, which was an entirely freeform three hours late Saturday night that I frequently went into with absolutely nothing planned beyond my first song: I’d put that on and I’d have about two minutes to run back to the record library and pick what I was going to play next. A lot of happy accidents on that show. This was the show I’ve mentioned on the Yahoo list where it was the very last student show before the new station manager switched to an all-NPR format, so the outgoing program director tossed me the keys to the record library and said “Go nuts.” basically two-thirds of the station’s LP, CD and 45 library went into the backseat of my engineer’s Monte Carlo and we spent the rest of the night divvying the spoils on my apartment floor.

    I did the reverse of most people, though: I worked at two commercial stations before I ever did college radio. My first job was the graveyard shift at a “beautiful music” station, where I was the youngest DJ by at least two decades, and which was made bearable primarily because I quickly determined that my boss NEVER listened to the station, so I would do things like use the library database to pull up every version of Francis Lai’s “A Man and a Woman” and play nothing but versions of that song for 90 minutes, or play the Durutti Column and Virginia Astley records that no one else at the station ever touched.

    As for the R&B station in Clovis…um…it turns out that late night DJs in certain styles of music can get pretty much all the tang they want. However, I had already seen PLAY MISTY FOR ME, so I didn’t indulge…much.

  13. BigSteve turns out that late night DJs in certain styles of music can get pretty much all the tang they want.

    So it’s like being an astronaut?

  14. I set ’em up, BigSteve knocks ’em down…

  15. budum-cha! 🙂

  16. BigSteve

    I resisted the temptation to type ‘asstronaut.’ Until now.

  17. Mr. Moderator

    Can it be, our first FLASHBACK FLOP?

  18. I just dj’ed dances since we didn’t have a radio station. I was playing Purple Rain at the end of one them in my senior year when a girl who I had a crush on since freshman year (but always had a boyfriend) appeared and started making out with me. It was the beginning of a blissful time that I derailed a month later due to an unfortunate combination of ineptitude at romantic relationships, fear of commitment, and a bad habit of choosing alcohol over women.

    I realize that this anecdote doesn’t mean squat to you guys but for the first couple of weeks, it meant the world to me.

  19. 2000 Man

    It could be!

    I always wanted a college radio show, and when I was in high school, I would go on some of the summer marathon shows with college students (whom I thought were cool as hell by virtue of being older than me), and I’d play great sounding bootlegs instead of the awful recordings those guys seemed to always have. I never got to do the Stones show, cuz the guy said he didn’t need me (he lied), but I made The Police marathon and the Roxy Music marathons much better than they would have been, and prevented them from the embarrassment of playing the same song twice in the marathon.

    The Stones guy was in real good with the station manager, and they had to actually play stuff he said to play, which made the whole appeal of doing it in the first place just disappear for me. My one son did it a few years ago, and after one semester, he quit for the same reasons I would have.

    I wanted to call my show The No Request Hour and encourage people to call in so I could tell them their requests were too shitty to play.

  20. Mr. Moderator

    Funny, 2K, my friend and I used to let our 6 listeners know that we’d accept requests only on the condition that they matched what we already had pulled to play that night.

    cdm, what I want to know is whether the long fade on Purple Rain covered for your unexpected make-out session.

  21. I didn’t need cover because it was the last song. After about three minutes, I just needed it to end so I could pack up and get out of there.

  22. diskojoe

    The only thing that I did was substitute a few times for my friend’s blues show on WMWM Salem State College around 12 yrs ago (he’s actually been on the air there for around 30 yrs.). The format was kinda restricting since I’m not into the blues too much, but I was able to do things like an Otis Redding memorial show & a Memphis music show using my Stax box sets. The one thing I remember the most was feeling that my breath ran out after a 3-hr. shift & trying to program the CD player & doing a talk over while doing so.

    I also remember people from the hip-hop shows at our station stealing the needles from the turntables.

    I was wondering if the Townspeople who were DJs would send samples of their shows like that first songs thingie that Mr. Mod’s got going?

  23. Mr. Moderator

    That’s an awesome idea, diskojoe. It could give a little flair to the collection of demos I’m hoping to compile. If anyone’s game, why don’t you send me a minute or two in mp3 form to mrmoderator [at] rocktownhall [dot] com. Thanks.

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