Thursday, January 07, 2010

This DJ

The AV Club recently ran a nice feature entitled Early experiences in pop-culture dorkiness, where the writers sounded off about their earliest known experiences of turning a critical and/or obsessive eye towards the pop-culture landscape. Many of these stories rang true for me, especially the ones about taping songs off of the radio and pretending to be a disc jockey. At the height of my personal imaginary media empire, I ran a radio station with its own call letters, sponsors (with commercials), and multiple on-air personalities (keep in mind that I almost always worked alone). My station was called NRP Shock Radio, a name that I stole from a Doonesbury comic strip. I believe the strip in question featured Mark taking a page out of the so-called shock jocks playbook and rebranding his program as "NPR Shock Radio". At the time, I had no idea what NPR or shock radio were, but I thought the name sounded cool. The NRP isn't a typo, I assume that I misread the comic.

Needless to say, when I first encountered ads for Quickshot's DJ Machine in the back of my comic books and Boy's Life, I knew I needed to have it. In case you've forgotten about the DJ Machine, or, more likely, you never knew what it was in the first place - here's a link you can check out (the only reference to it I could find online). I received this wonderful machine as a Christmas present in either 1988 or 89 and got plenty of use of it. I used the sound effects to create a jingle for NRP Shock Radio (lasers blasting in the background while I stuttered the 's' in shock). Like all good things, NRP Shock Radio eventually came to an end as I left it behind for other equally dorky pursuits. I'm pretty sure my parent's gave my DJ Machine away several years ago.

I finally got the chance to be a "real" DJ when I went to college. As luck would have it, my college radio shows probably had about as many listeners as NRP Shock Radio. My dorm had its own radio station, but it didn't broadcast. Instead, it sent its signal throughout the dorm over coaxial cable. This meant that anyone who wished to tune in from their room needed to forgo the free cable TV coming into their room and plug their stereo antenna into the cable hookup instead. Needless to say, it wasn't a popular choice. Fortunately, major record labels still thought we were a real radio station and sent us all kinds of promotional materials. Our studio was full of CDs and there was a closet full of old LPs across the hall. It was a really great resource. I was just starting to get into jazz and I probably listened to just about every one of the numerous old jazz records in the library.

I don't know if the radio station still exists, though I did come across a (broken) link to the web site that I built for the station (WLAY 90.1 FM - West Lafayette's Get Lucky Radio Station) on this online radio station directory.

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