The Life and Death of a Disc Jockey

  Contributed by Adam       

          I have always loved radio. When I was about 4 years old I figured out how to work my Dad’s stereo… how to dial in a station, put an 8 track tape in, what to do with a record. We even played a game where he would interview me on a tape recorder. That little tradition kept going long after my toddler voice evolved in to a young man’s as I started to interview friends and family members, pretending I was actually broadcasting. I even had my own call letters – KADM, Adam radio! Back in the 70’s and 80’s I was never on the air but that didn’t matter at bit. In the day we used to make mix tapes for friends and especially that girl you had an eye on and slip it to her in her locker. ~ quit laughing you pervert fucks! But my tapes weren’t just songs, Hell no. I reported the news, time, temperature and of course my call letters. I was on my way right in to your am/fm transistor radio!

            Nothing really came of my dream of being the next and best disk jockey. In fact I didn’t even consider it a possible career until many years later when I was a Sophomore at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Let me take you back to the 1980’s for a few minutes. Go get a beer or something because this is going to a take a few minutes.

            The 1980’s was a great time to be alive for a music lover. We had it all; classic rock, the new heavy metal, Reggae, Ska, what is now called rockabilly, country, etc. and I was in to all of it especially the New Wave with a hidden lust for metal. Some of you younger guys in to Black and Death metal will love the fact that I was there when King Diamond brought his new brand of music now called (I think) Scandinavian or Death Metal. Anyway, speed metal was great and to this day I love Slayer, Megadeth vs. Metallica (another article), and many others. My real love was the British New Wave. It was new and underground and I had found my place. I got so in to it I got kicked off the Freshman varsity teams because my hair was too wild and wouldn’t tame it down. This didn’t end after the New Wave promptly died in 1990 either. And I mean promptly! To me music hit the shits January, 1990.

            Fast forward now to 1991. Like I said I was a Sophomore at Texas Tech and in December of that year the campus radio station on campus was “All the way to the left, 88.1 KTXT FM, Lubbock’s Rock Alternative”.

            I had been listening to college radio most of my life at that point because the mainstream music just didn’t do it for me. One afternoon I read in the campus daily paper, the Texas Tech Daily (original name huh?) and they had an opening for a new disk jockey! The time slot sucked major ass but I didn’t care. It was going to be 10:00pm to 12:00 am Saturday nights and you could do your own show. All you had to do was go by the Journalism building and sign up to submit an audition tape. They wanted you talking, music, fades and intros, etc.

            It was late November, finals were starting in the next two or three weeks and I was busy making my demo tapes to submit for my own show. I went through several tapes and finally made one I really liked. My show was going to be called “Save the Wave”, thus a feeble attempt to keep the New Wave alive for myself and a lot of other people. At the time there were about 25,000 students at Texas Tech and only 2…TWO of us were interested in the time slot. One was me and the other was a good friend of mine named Jeff, he was from New Mexico. At this point I was seriously considering adding another major to my degree plan, Communications.

            The demo tapes were due at the station by 8:00pm on a Thursday evening. Let me tell you about the station since I mentioned the fucked up time slot. The station was worse than that. It was on the top story of the Journalism building in a room that measured about 100 square feet with no heating and no air conditioning. ~~ It was an old maintenance closet actually with ancient equipment and exposed transmitter cables. There was a window that could open and it faced the ass end of the Math building in the Quad. The board was on top of a dilapidated classroom table and the disk jockey’s chair was an old schoolroom desk with the desk part torn off if you can believe that. I didn’t care because I wanted it and I was going to save the city with decent music and stellar interviews! Right? Wrong.

            It was a cold afternoon and I went downstairs to the cafeteria and had a great dinner. My room was so cozy and warm and I decided to go back up and take a short nap. A few hours later I woke up and it 10:00 pm…. two hours after I was supposed to drop off my tape. I panicked, got dressed, and hauled ass out the door toward the Journalism building. I saw a light on in the station and thought I might be in the clear but I was wrong…the station manager had left after getting the one and only demo tape for the time slot. Needless to say my buddy Jeff got the slot and named his show the “Dreadlock Rock Show” and it was really good to be honest. He broadcast that Reggae show for only a semester and brought to the campus something the listeners may have never heard. It got to be too much for him to deal with considering his class load.  He even told me there would be an opening. Back then I had the mantra of “If at first you don’t succeed, fuck it and move on” and followed it closely. I never did try to get in to radio after that and have since regretted it. My message to you, my readers, is don’t follow my old mantra and just keep trying to get what made your heart smile. I was lucky because I do what I love for a living and have for 20 years now. Y’all take care and I’ll see you again soon.

Adam

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This cat’s the old fart on the block. Born in 1971.  Raised and still lives in Texas. He has been through it all….70′s punk, the New Wave and heavy metal heydays of the 80′s, the grunge of the 90′s and a limited scene in the new millennium. To this day he still has an extreme distaste for mainstream “music” and is always on the lookout for the new cool. His idols include Johnny Rotten, Billy Idol, Bruce Dickenson, Steve Vai, Blackie Lawless and Billy Sheehan. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, five Dachshunds and two cats. Having worked at the Atomic Cafe and Elysium on Red River, he has seen just about enough of the weird and twisted to keep his head screwed on straight without screaming in to the night.

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