September 16, 2012

The No Name Hour

[...Posted by Ted H]

More tales from my life. This time about a radio program I ran in college that was directly involved with the fall of the Cazenovia College radio program. I got another NNH tale next week that'll also contain the origin story of how I met Ryan, cuz I know how everyone is clamoring for that one.

The station at the time was called "Black Sheep Radio" but I always just called it "BS Radio" cuz I'm mature like that.

...and HOLY SHIT, there's finally a picture on this blog!


[The No Name Hour] 

I liked radio programs. One day I happened to come across the Howard Stern Show on a local rock station. It was awesome. Sure, it was in the twilight in his FM career, not his best shows by far but I didn’t know nor care. What appealed to me most was the fact that the show was basically Howard and his friends just talking. There was no point, they would just talk and not actually bother with music, at all, ever. I always figured that it I ever had the chance to be on the radio, that would be what I’d try for.

The prospect of being an on air radio personality was defiantly something I didn’t want to do as a career though. At the time my sister was dating a radio DJ so I pretty much got a first hand idea at how radio DJs were anything but glamorous. Stern was the exception to the rule, everyone else however were worthless. College radio, however, was a good choice. Fulfill that specific life dream without having to make any sacrifices? Where do I sign?

The problem was getting in there. My freshmen year I had missed the opportunity. Sure there was a meeting at the beginning of the year for interested people. Perfect, except that I had forgone the meeting to instead hang out with friends. Whoops. I also had no idea who to talk to afterwards about getting a show, nor did I have any idea as to what that show would include.

Sophomore year had finally provided me the opportunity. Roger was teaching a Broadcasting class and it included having your own radio program. A class taught by Roger? Easy A. A way to finally get me into the radio program? Awesome.

A few things had to be done before radio magic could be done. First was a code of conduct. Everyone had to read a half page contract and sign it at the bottom. Basically it stated that you wouldn’t be a profane mother fucker on the air. Simple. Also there was the division of the time slots and program information. All had to be submitted with the contract before we could start a show.

The Broadcasting class had first dibs on time slots. Unfortunately, when we passed the sheet around for time slots, I was on the wrong side of the classroom and all the choice, prime time selections were already taken. I didn’t want to do my show in the middle of the day when everyone on campus were in class or otherwise preoccupied, and I certainly didn’t want to play a show on the weekend. The only other option was Thursday nights, starting at 9pm. “Good enough,” I figured. I called the 9-to-11 time slot and that was that. When all was said and done, I was allowed to have my show last as long as I wanted since the next scheduled show would’ve been Friday morning at 7.

Code of Conduct signed and filed and my time slot reserved, the only thing left to do was pick a DJ name and show title. Neither of which I put much thought into, leading all the way up to my first show. Roger had finished giving me a final crash coarse of the radio station controls literally minutes before my inaugural show and I still didn’t have a clue as to names.

At 8:59 he pretty much flashed me a thumbs up and asked what DJ name I had decided on. I had nothing, so I just dug my hands into my pockets, the only thing in there were keys and a lighter. Keys so I could go home and a lighter because I had taken up the regular hobby of walking various pieces of notes and tests from my failed statistics class to the lake so I could burn them. Sure I not only failed the class but also my appeal, but it all felt a little better because I was slowly burning all of the evidence of my statistics past.

I was a pyro, and the word was the only thing in my mind when my hand happened upon the lighter. “Pyro,” I eventually said to Roger “My DJ name is Pyro.” Roger flashed a quick look on his face. Not the best nor most original name ever but it seemed to be suffice since he shrugged and nodded. “Good luck,” he said, then left the room.

9:00. Time to rock. I had a DJ name and a CD of songs I burnt up earlier to play. The only problem was that the show didn’t have a name yet. In my bag nearby was the information sheet for the show that I had neglected to complete and hand in. In the space marked “show name” I had written “Duct Tape Dreams” in pencil, had erased it and wrote “Duct Tape Hour” over it. I hated the name, but kept it as Plan B in case I never thought up a better title. The whole duct tape thing was yet another small obsession of mine and it was better than nothing, or so I thought.

I activated the mic attempted to say something, but anxiety clutched my throat. What if someone really was listening? We always made jokes about how no one listens to the colleges radio station but what if someone just happened to be listening right now? Or worse, what if the person recognizes me and realizes what a shitty job I’m doing. And when did it become 9:01? Fuck, I need to say something. ANYthing. I ended up going with the standard station identification call sign, then I immediately switched to my CD.

A Slipknot song started and I relaxed in my chair. That could’ve gone worse, but it sure as fuck could’ve gone a lot better too. Seriously, I cant have been the first person in history to not have a name for his creation after launching it. And I wasn’t, because I remembered a lunch I had over a year beforehand.

I was on a construction job when we decided to head out to lunch. One of them suggested we eat at a place called “No Name Diner” instead of getting a pizza (again). If the coworker is to be believed, the diner opened without a name proper but no one seemed to mind at the time. After a “help us name our diner” contest, it was decided that “No Name” shouldn’t just be a place holder, it should be the actual fucking title of the place.

So when Slipknot finished, I hit the button on the controls and started talking. “I’m DJ Pyro and you’re listening to the No Name Hour.” Done, next song. It was touch and go for most of the next hour and I never really got around to saying much anything at all. Once my CD finished, I was too. I hated how my first show went and realized that me sitting by myself in the studio wasn’t gonna cut it. I needed more voices.

I decided to drop the DJ from my name and just call myself “Pyro” since it flowed a lot better, keep “No Name Hour” as the title and hand that shit in and make it a priority to find someone to talk to on air before next week. I didn’t get anyone to show up. Sure, people said they would come by and talk, but people are full of shit.

The next week came and went much like the first. Not so bad, except that I was suppose to be recording these shows for the actual class. I was sure Roger would give me an A but I figured it would be a lot easier to give me an A if I gave him shows that consisted more than just me saying the time and the radio call sign.

A few weeks passed and one night I’m on the air when Quiet Girl walked in to visit. I call her this because she does everything in her power to actually live up to that name. She didn’t say shit loud enough to be picked up by any of the studio microphones, but she was company, plus I had someone to talk to. Conversing with her on air proved to be a mistake since anyone listening would just as well assume I was talking to myself like some retard. I went as far as throwing chairs around the radio station and causing general chaos in an attempt to get her to say anything, but she still held no comment to my rock-star studio trashing job. Whatever, fuck her.

Then one night a bunch of my fiends decided to show up in the studio and before I knew it, the No Name Hour had life. In addition to QG and myself, there were now Jigga, PainInTheAss, Dominatrix, iPinch, K-zilla, Happy-Dancer, Magdaline and Whitey. Affectionately we called our collective selves “The Circus” cause we’re dumb like that.  Any given night would feature anywhere between a few of us or all of us. The show tagline was “Fucking Classy…all the way” and we rarely failed to live up to those sad standards.

It wasn’t so much as a radio show as much as a bunch of us shooting the shit on live radio, broken up occasionally when a bunch of them would step out for cigarettes while I played music. Inevitable on any given night you could count on Dominatrix using the stations computer to look up something involving sex (occasional virus is implied), Happy-Dancer sounding an occasional swear by accident in full range of a microphone and someone making obvious references to the “sex couch” being disgusting. Seating in the small room was limited at best, especially for 10 of us, so if you wanted a seat, your options were: one of 2 hard plastic chairs, the floor, the sex couch or a couple amps that were laying around. The sex couch itself was…well…lets just say that it’s something of a horror show if you ever viewed it under a black light. Luckily I always had a slightly padded roller chair to sit on.

So the show went on very smoothly after a while, I had an easy A in Broadcasting after all and we all had so much fun that I decided to keep the show going into the following semester. It was no longer a class requirement but a recreational activity, meaning the standards of our group conversations on air would fall from their already low standards. It was still fun as ever and it opened the door for a couple of the more iconic shows.

[The show poster that I printed out and put everywhere on campus, usually right on top of other show posters cuz this show was obviously better.]

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