Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Power of College Radio

Friday, September 11

College radio is not a high-tech operation. Most DJs are alone in the studio, picking records & CDs, cueing them up, previewing them to see if they'll transition well from the last song, and all the while keeping track of the songs so they can tell you once in a while what you've been listening to.

All that can go to hell in a heartbeat if you have a skipping record or an unexpected guest or malfunctioning equipment or a long-winded phone caller. With experience and imagination, disaster may be averted or transformed to triumph.

Cue Inki's Buttcrack (Rapeman): A 7 inch little record with a big hole, released in 1989 on SubPop as a limited edition installment to their monthly singles club, (posted on this blog). I am lucky enough to have one of these, but it's warped, with a visible curl turning up the edge of the record.

I'd never had a problem playing it though, until yesterday. It seemed like a good idea to open the show with it- it is instrumental, has this slow buildup that you can talk over, and then morphs into a righteous ear-boxing of a song. But because of a very minor (and fixable) technical problem, the intro to the show was practically derailed by the needle jumping up and down and refusing to stay in the grooves.

Perhaps it was the radio gods' intention to throw us a curveball yesterday. I was training a new DJ who was thus able to learn three things: always have a backup thing you can put on, such as a PSA about strokes; needles sometimes are mounted to the cartridge at an angle by careless persons before you so you have to twist them to stop the plastic riding the vinyl and jumping over the warps; and the counterweight on the tone arm can be pushed up to 3.5 to force the needle to sit more heavily on uncooperative records.

Of course, some records are just beyond salvation, but yesterday, things worked out just fine. Listen to it for yourself here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What the hell is Tight Pants?

Not to be confused with current legwear trends, the Tight Pants radio show was named after the Stooges song of the same name- the one which became Shake Appeal once Raw Power was sufficiently sanitized for the public.

Tight Pants doesn't purport to be strictly a rock'n'roll show, but it often is and most listeners seem to appreciate it for that reason. I like to think of it as "Music for Barfights" or like "Soundtrack for Smashing Whiskey Bottles While Standing on Tables and Throwing Chairs." If you listen to the show, you probably have your own description. Feel free to post it below.

Tight Pants made its debut in January, 2006 on a podunk radio station in a cowboy-cum-old hippie town out west. I grew up listening to college radio but was under the mistaken impression that a person had to be a music expert or like wicked popular in the scene or something in order to get a show on a good station like WMBR. It was mostly true that you had to be a student at most of the other colleges to get shows. So I never did radio in my youth beyond the occasional visit to a friend's radio show.

Then I lived overseas for a long time, and then I came back to go to grad school and became consumed by this urge to do a radio show. WCBN was really pivotal in bringing me to UM-Ann Arbor, but before relocating, I shacked up at a relative's for a few months, so Tight Pants was first unleashed onto the unsuspecting public of aforementioned old hippie town. I don't think anybody listened to it. I sure hope they didn't.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Inaugural Post

I applied for what could have been a cool job recently, and one of the questions the bossman asked was, did I maintain a blog? Mildly incredulous, I responded that I had enough work to do without adding to it with something as frivolous as a blog. Apparently that wasn't the right answer. I did not get the job, and that wasn't the only reason either, but here goes...a blog for the program which airs on WCBN every Friday from 3:00-5:30pm. This show is Tight Pants. Welcome.