Since I wrote the first part of this thought a few weeks ago, I found Lady Ti Die's blog. Lady Ti Die was the morning jock, who, along with Perry Persoff, the guy who did all the production work, made me feel pretty welcome at K-OTTER. Though the K-OTTER jocks loved their music, most were older than me by some margin, and could be a bit snobbish in what they liked. They warmed to me the more I hung around, and by the end of the 8 months I was there most became friendly. The depth of their musical knowledge was a bit intimidating, too.
Lady Ti Die graciously responded to my email, and is still up in the SLO area. I haven't tried to contact Perry, but it seems like he's doing well on WUMB in Boston, a station that seems similar to K-OTTER.
So I think I left off my thoughts at UCLA. My RA (possibly the smartest person that I've ever met-he's a professor now at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) at the dorms was on the UCLA campus radio station, and said that I could probably get on too. So among the several things I dabbled in, I would fill shifts on the campus radio station, but I never got a shift of my own. I don't even know who was in charge. Like my brief stint writing for the Daily Bruin, instead of pursuing it, I just dabbled and complained that I wasn't making the most of being at UCLA, even though that was my fault.
In the early 80's, LA radio was going through some sort of upheaval. KMET checked out while I was a UCLA student, and Rick Carroll was instituting the "Roq of the 80's" format at KROQ, which I really enjoyed. I became a school teacher, trying to get a handle on rap, but sticking to my punk rock roots. KLOS was still around, but seemed locked in the 70's (and as I typed that, I checked what was playing on the station-Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak"). And while on the topic of the 70's, Howard Stern came to town via satellite on classic rocker KLSX. I liked Stern after he got over how he was going to beat Mark and Brian and Kevin and Bean, and just started being Howard Stern.
That wasn't really the plan, but that's how it played out. It was 1992, and I figured that I could land a teaching job pretty quick, so went to SLO before I had a job lined up-a mistake that I have had the good sense to not repeat. There's more, but I'm going to leave my arrival in SLO at that for now. I did land on K-OTTER, playing a very (and I mean very) small part of what might well have been the last free form FM station.
In late '92, I spoke with Clam Chowder and Drew, and they let me come on the air.
I became the fill in overnight guy, and I think my busiest week came in the summer of '93 when I filled three shifts.
I had an idea of doing a show entitled, "The History of Alternative Rock," which I thought went pretty well. I'd take an alternative act, say the Velvet Underground, Elvis Costello or Wall of Voodoo, and then build an hour show on any obscure tracks that I could dig out of either my collection or the station's library, and give a history that I would research as best I could at the local library. It took a great deal of work, since this was before the internet, and I had a vision of becoming wildly successful and then syndicating my show nationally. It didn't quite work like that, but it might have if I had stayed on the station longer.
A week before I was scheduled to fill in, I decided that I would play every song in the station that had "God" or "Jesus" in the title. It might have been a good idea if I had tightened it to an hour and came up with a commentary. Instead, it took over 3 1/2 hours, and let's just say that it wasn't a particularly popular show with the audience. The cool thing is that I was allowed to do it and several of the jocks had left me suggestions when I mentioned around the station that I was going to give it a try.
I know for certain that I was the only one on the station to play Ice-T's heavy metal band, Body Count. It wasn't even close to the music the station generally played, but I wanted to hear what all the fuss was about in the song "Cop Killer". I liked it enough to buy the cd-I remember finding it at Poo-Bah's in Pasadena, the pressing with "Cop Killer," for $8.99.
I'd do the whole show, midnight to 5:30 AM, standing up. I tried to sit, but couldn't, even when songs were playing. I remember reading an interview with Tom Leykis (who I used to enjoy listening to on KLSX-unfortunately long after I was married. I could have used his advice when I was single), where Leykis was saying that he always did his show standing up, and another with John Madden who used to do his football broadcast the same way. Not that I was as good as those guys, but no matter how tired or sleepy-and after 4 AM I was usually both-I was, I stayed standing.
K-OTTER introduced me to my all-time favorite album, Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend, a record that had everything, screaming guitars, awesome drum lines, and great vocals, and with lyrics that really seemed to hit me as I was approaching 30 and thinking that being single was fun at that girl-juggling point of my life, but maybe I'd better figure out what I wanted and go find it. I also was introduced to Barenaked Ladies, who played an acoustic in-store at, I think Boo-Boo's.
When my last shift wound down, I played songs that somehow reflected my feelings about my move back to LA and leaving K-OTTER. I think I have the tape in my garage, and maybe I'll find it, but I know I played the Faces' Had Me a Real Good Time, (I was glad to come/I'll be so sad to leave/But while I was here I had me a real good time), and X's Los Angeles. If I recall, my final song on the air was Michelle Shocked's Come A Long Way (I've come a long way/But never even left LA). I believe that was the last week of August, 1993, right after my 30th birthday.
I'm ashamed to say that nowadays if I have a music station on in the car, it is usually Jack-FM. Jack FM is about as corporate as corporate can be, a CBS owned station with no disk-jockeys at all, licensed throughout the United States and Canada. Same playlist, even if it is over 1,000 songs, all over the country. It mostly favors the 90's but may occasionally reach into the 70's or become as current as five years ago. It's like having someone else's MP3 player that has if not your favorite songs, then at least songs that you're willing to listen to and don't make you either think or vomit. Intellectually, I find it wrong, the loss of the DJ really making the station totally impersonal, the antithesis of K-OTTER. But it's the station that my whole family will listen to with minimal fuss.
Otherwise, it's KNX, the news station I started listening to in 1984. If you were to ask my kids what Dad listens to, they'd say that Dad always has the news on. Over 3,000 compact discs, a few thousand albums and tapes, and thousands more MP3's, and I almost never listen to music anymore.