Friday, July 11, 2008

The Power of College Radio to Inspire

DJing at a college radio station can be lonely work. Often the phone doesn't ring and when it does there's no telling who might be on the other end, especially as it gets later in the night and the alcohol and drugs kick in. So, when one gets fabulous phone calls, emails, or IMs it can really make your year. I know that I've had transcendental moments when I've heard a beautiful or compelling piece on the radio or in a music store. I specifically remember the first time I heard a Miranda July track on a college radio station and I was mesmerized.

The author of the blog Dark Lucia talks about the college radio moment in 1991 that led her to the art of spoken word. She writes:

"I was talking to a friend today about my inspiration for spoken word. This was the inspiration: In the winter of 1991, I was staying at my friend's house...The apartment was a 2 room roach motel sort of place, and I was about 3 months pregnant. I was cold, with basically no food, and I was alone. There was a huge snowstorm, and I had nothing to do to pass the time or distract my attention from the morning sickness. I had no books, and I’d grown tired of the borrowed David Bowie/Iggy pop albums (yes, they were Vinyl!).

So I listened to a college radio station on my thrift store clock radio. There were two stations actually, one that played nothing but classical music, and one that played NPR shows, like a Prairie Home Companion, and then from Midnight until 6 a.m. played all sorts of 'college' music such as Captain Beefheart, Bauhaus, and even some little new group called Nirvana...Considering my friend/roommate had driven back to Louisville to stay with family over the holidays, I had full reign of the two rickety roomed dump. So 24 hours a day it was a nice combination of classical music and NPR and stomach ick, thanks to N-the wonder child.

The central heating was a joke, and I froze most of the time-until I got the great idea to use the oven as a heat source. The gas oven. I was young, guys-and had NO experience with gas appliances…So perhaps it was the oven that seduced me into a warm, snuggly half sleep one night. But within that strange half sleep, I heard a voice saying: 'America, I've given you all and now I'm nothing.' I remember opening my eyes, and lying very still as the voice continued: '…I can’t stand my own mind…I don't feel good, don't bother me. I won’t write my poem until I'm in my right mind…' People often talk about religious experiences-This was my experience. And This was the beginning of a very important one-sided love affair.

As soon as the sun began slaughtering the snow the following morning, I wobbled quickly and carefully to the library and I checked out everything they had by Ginsberg. He became a substitute for Father-afterall, they had the same beard, the same crazy eyes. Sure Ginsberg was gay, but still there was a slight fragrence of a full blown Electra complex forming and it was very nice!

This affair was the inspiration for my spoken word…As a matter of fact, I was doing spoken word on the day Ginsberg died..."

What did college radio introduce to you?

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