Monday, August 26, 2013

Blows Against The Empire Reunion!

Following the trend of every old rocker with half his salt, I'm doing a reunion show for Blows Against The Empire on WCSB this weekend! It's happening this Sunday at Midnight, in Cleveland, on WCSB 89.3-FM. Listen via live online streaming at

Blows was my first radio show, and really, it wasn't even mine to begin with. Matt Dudas had the show for a little less than a year, starting in one of the 4-7am graveyard shifts, playing hardcore, punk, and thrash metal. He paid his dues, and moved into a sweet time slot: Wednesdays, 3-5:30pm.

We actually had a physics class together. These were the days when I wore a punk rock haircut and t-shirts in order to find other likeminded folks. It worked. I had heard the show, and in time, Matt invited me to hang out, for the first time in late 1986.

I had a great time! Matt played some tunes I suggested, and even allowed me to say a few words on air. He had a good enough time with me there that he invited me back. I went back, and kept going back.

I don't know what you know about hardcore punk songs, but for a radio programmer, the main thing to know is that they are short songs. 30 seconds to a minute and a half. These were the days before CDs. WCSB had three turntables and two cassette decks. Hardcore programmers had to be extremely proficient in cueing records and keeping order in the studio, or it would fall apart. Having me around was a big help to Matt, and improved the show in one key sense: The lazy thing to do would be to play almost half an album side in order to buy time. With a division of labor, every song would be off a different record than the one before. It allowed us to present as many bands and recordings as possible.

This mattered, because (cue the old man laff track), in those days, there was no internet. There were limited ways for Cleveland punk fans of finding out about a hardcore band from New Jersey like 76% Uncertain, or Gilman Street bands like Isocracy, or Operation Ivy (which later morphed into Rancid), or Green Day. You might read about the Gilman St. bands in Maximum RockNRoll, but if you wanted to hear them? You'd have to risk your money by mail order, or tune in to WCSB.

Matt & I had an on-air chemistry. Matt was in control of the show, and I was the smart-ass chiming in with remarks. We developed shtick. "Stump The Idiots" was our favorite giveaway segment. In order to win tickets to see The Exploited or Fugazi, or the Pink Holes free show, callers had to stump us with a punk rock trivia question, or say something we thought was absurdly excellent. A winning stump? "How many licks does it take to get the center of a Charms Blow Pop?"

The show ran it's course in 1989 when I was really feeling the need to do my own thing, and Matt was nearing graduation.

So here, nearly 24 years later, we're going to reprise the show. I won't give everything away, except to say that we will do Stump The Idiots for a giveaway, and we will do an edition of Mike's Sexual Soapbox. We will play hardcore & punk. But beyond that, you'll have to listen to find out.

Huge thanks to Keith Newman. He does a show every Sunday night at Midnight called Crap Radio. He is graciously hosting Matt & I for this reunion. I can't thank him enough. Keith, I owe you three!

It's been fun prepping with Matt to get this put together. We found pictures and flyers I hadn't seen in decades. Many thanks to Tony Erba for supplying the flyer of Matt with a Mohawk. I can't wait to let it rip one more time!