Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Reunion in Cle

It was fun to get back to Cleveland for the extended weekend to visit family and to see many friends I haven't seen in a long time.

I skipped the 20th high school reunion and instead went to The Spitfire for a sort of WCSB reunion. I missed the actual event surrounding the college radio station's 35th anniversary during the campaign, so it was great to see friends who have made the kind of innovative and unique radio Indy simply lacks.

The Spitfire is a punk rock themed bar owned by my former 'Rock n Roll Radio' co-host Shelly and her husband Stosh. It has the best punk juke box I've ever encountered, and loaded with Cleveland underground rock legends like the Electric Eels, the Dead Boys, the Pagans, and the Pink Holes.

Steve studies the jukebox while Sade enjoys a beer.

From left: Tim Schmitz, Keith Newman, Ame, me, Steve Wainstead. This was our reprise of another photo with us each posed more or less as we are here, at Shelly & Stosh's wedding, where Ame & I met.

Tim did a great late-night show called 'Bad Art' which revolved around the music of Frank Zappa. He used a flat, wry deadpan delivery that I loved. Keith currently does a late night talk show called 'Crap', which underpromises and overdelivers a dialogue that bounces to wherever the callers want to take it. My favorite Keith Newman show was 'Lo-Fi'. Absolutely the best garage/rockabilly/punk rock show I'd ever heard. He also did really hilarious radio theatre with Michael Jordan. Wainstead & I got together with Keith for a one-night take on Monty Python's 'Election Night Special', which did air live on an election night. Sade did really wild rock shows that travelled over a variety of undrground rock styles. She also did a fascinating weekly half-hour called "Spirit of the Earth", which covered pagan news and views.

Steve did a number of shows, and each seemed to be better than the last, which was no small feat. His show "Punkin' Around" featured an hour of Cleveland bands that greatly aided a strong music scene in the late 80's. "Cyclotron" caught on to the noise rock and grunge scene before anyone heard of Nirvana or Helmet. "31337" featured the electronic underground- hacking, black box devices, and this new thing called The Internet. I remember him carting an old TV up to the stations to show that you could hear cell phone conversations. I joined him for a night of "trashing"- picking up trash bags and rumaging through on the air to show how easy identity theft was.

Of course Steve's big show was "Wainstead All Night". It started with 3 hours and then grew to 5 hours, borne out of frustration as a 3rd shift worker bored to death of repetitive late night radio. Steve reached bored security guards, factory workers, postal workers, bakers, gas station clerks, drunks, and other night howls looking for something different. Steve gave it to them: crazy novelty songs ("Beer is Better Than Girls" stands out), thrift store records like junior high school marching bands and lounge act covers of "Light My Fire", bogus traffic reports, police blotters from the Sun News (Lakewood's were awesome), Brainwash (the 40-second song that repeated 20 or so times with 6 seconds of silence between, filled with callers issuing juvenile insults on each other or bizarre film sound bites), and an hour of Frank Zappa. The show was beloved, and had three different runs on air. Steve says he plans to convert the old tapes to mp3s and make them available as podcasts. I can't wait!

Ame and Shelly met at Earlham College near Richmond, IN. They roomed together in a house heated by a wood-burning stove!

I was hunting around the FM dial today for anything 10% as interesting as WCSB's old fare, and failed. The playlists are only 30 songs deep. Hell- we had 30 song playlists for single artists! We played anything off the entire album... or the entire album.

Great times. Great friends. A strange parallel universe for me.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Good radio is something I haven't heard in...decades. I still remember having a couple of really good stations around the Washington DC area way back when that specialised in B sides, punk, New Wave and good rock but those days are long gone. Sounds like you had a great time in radio! Maybe that's your big next thing, Mike! A good radio station is what Indy desperately needs!! Or a Mike Kole podcast! That's be sweet! (As long as you promised to play the occasional Ramones cut).
You should check out
Uncle Warren's Attic. He plays some interesting stuff.