I just realized this morning that, as of my next broadcast, I will have been with WDBX-FM for 5 years. Well, very close– technically, my first broadcast at WDBX was 1/30/02– but I’m the host, so I’m allowed to fudge a little.
I have to say that I’ve learned a lot in these five years. I’ve always tried to bring listeners the finest experimental music available, but I see the show in somewhat of a different light now– it is a “sketchbook” for my musical thoughts and ideas, it is a long-running work of art, it is also a changing weekly “slice of sound”. I’ve gone from obsessing over the details and successes of individual shows to realizing that the overall arc of my broadcasting is also very important.
Along the way, I’ve had a lot of fun being in contact with artists, label heads, fans, and listeners; many of whom are as excited and passionate about music as I am. I have also had the opportunity to meet a lot of fine DJs, and interesting characters. The gallery of folks that have had the odd time of following or opening for my show has also been a hoot– while part of the power of WDBX is in its diversity, there is nothing quite like the jarring effect of having an experimental show follow a hip-hop show, or be followed by old-time country! Each week, I get a big laugh thinking about the hapless children tuning in a few minutes too early for the children’s show and getting a taste of avant-garde turntable exercises, a shrieking French chorus, or power noise.
My general “mission” has also expanded somewhat. Aside from simply presenting music, I have tried to make the presentation and act of broadcasting a work of art in itself. I have tinkered with, rebuilt, and destroyed the traditional models of broadcasting at times; and I’m always looking forward to new opportunities to challenge myself and my listeners. Without sounding too far-fetched, I’m also serious about “growing” an experimental community of listeners and artists in Southern Illinois. It is taking time– but I’m confident that it will happen.
The show has been very rewarding for me. Early on, a group of supporters actually banded together to purchase a CDR burner for me, a stop-gap solution to the fact that WDBX did not have an online broadcast. Local listeners have stopped by with their albums, or just to chat about music. I’ve been interviewed in the local news a couple times, and had the chance to supply a small-town newspaper with experimental music reviews. In the past couple years, the show has grown enough to attract the attention of touring musicians. Online listenership has also been great! Since very early on, I’ve concentrated on my online listeners– even going so far as to exchange remixes of the shows themselves with some artists, doing sound art live with online listeners, fielding phone calls from as far away as Israel, and getting mail from every continent except Antarctica.
I’ve also had some really silly moments, like my faked “interview” with Bjork, where I impersonated the singer; an actual phone interview with an artist that turned into a technical nightmare– trying to hold the phone to the speaker, talk into the mic, speakerphone wailing away with feedback, etc– doing a live improvisation with a balloon, having two teams hold a ghost hunt live on-air, being shocked endlessly by microphones and touchy equipment, running a show from a boombox while the studio was being completely overhauled, being overrun by pet dogs brought into the studio, telling a drunken caller that a Merzbow track was actually a Lynyrd Skynrd side project (and having him LOVE it), and finding out that my show was somehow being simulcast on local television (whereupon I quickly replied, as any paranoid DJ would: “can you see me?!”)…
It’s been great.
Anyhow, five years is a long time. I hope you’ll join me this week for my anniversary broadcast. Feel free to call in (618-457-3691). See you then!