The last time I manned the console of a low-watt, college radio station — in the late ’90s — I performed a little on-air sketch that I called “The Marilyn Manson Psychic Hotline.”
Hey, it was the era of psychic hotlines.
And Marilyn Manson was, at the time, regarded as the latest threat to our nation’s wayward youth. (Is he even still around?)
I ended my skit by growling, “Kids, if you’re under 18 and want to call, who cares what your parents say — kill them.”
“Dad, why should I kill you?” the young, doe-eyed daughter of a professor was rumored to have asked as they listened to my afternoon show in their car.
At least that’s what the faculty adviser said as she was suspending me from the campus radio station.
Of course, I didn’t utter a peep about any of that weeks ago as the general manager of Wittenberg’s student-run radio station registered a keycard in my name.
As she made sure my new card would successfully unlock the WUSO studio door, it felt like she was about to just hand me a Street Sweeper shotgun without first doing the background check.
“Wait a second, Mr. McGinn,” I imagined her saying as I left with my card and new time-slot.
“You forgot this box of armor-piercing rounds. They’re on the house.”
Heh, heh, heh — I now have 120 watts and I know how to use ’em.
After just three shows, hosting a music show on the local college station easily has become the highlight of my week.
The Wittenberg station is one of just two left broadcasting from here in town, and they’re both noncommercial.
The other is WEEC, and I’m afraid that isn’t an option for me, regardless of how many Stryper albums I own.
But I’ll be the first to admit I’ve changed my ways since trying my hand at being an amateur shock-jock when I was in school.
Well, between you and me, it’s kind of like being a recovering alcoholic or the Incredible Hulk — it takes almost every fiber of my being to keep inappropriate humor at bay.
I end up taking lots of cold showers.
Besides, I now just want to play music. I’m not all that interested anymore in blurting out immature things.
That’s why I have a newspaper column.
Some people play in bands their whole lives. As far back as high school, I’ve always done a radio show of some kind.
I’m not all that good, to be honest. I have a face for radio but a voice for print.
But back in college, I thought I might actually want to do radio full time.
I once did an internship at a big classic-rock station and presented one of my skits to the program director for possible use on their morning show.
“This is good,” I remember him saying. “But can you make it dirtier?”
My eyes grew wide with excitement.
Can I — a 21-year-old college male — actually make it dirtier?
Oh, right away, sir.
But I soon was confronted with the reality of working an airshift, and the thought of playing the same four Led Zeppelin songs for the next 42 years of my life scared me.
I love playing music for people — music they might not otherwise have known about.
And there’s nothing like cranking up a song in the studio, because radio stations always have better speakers than I do at home.
My show on Witt’s 89.1 FM and wuso.org — which had been scheduled from 8 to 9 p.m. Mondays before I just confessed to being a potential FCC liability — is called “Behind the Garage Door” and features ’60s garage-rock, psychedelic music and British invasion stuff.
I’m a volunteer disc jockey, but I consider it an awesome responsibility. You see, I have an avid listener in my 3-year-old son, who might possibly be the hippest 3-year-old in the world.
He’s now allowed to stay up on Monday nights to listen with Mom to my show.
This week, when it was over, my wife announced it was time for bed.
“It’s not over,” he exclaimed. “We didn’t hear any Byrds!”
Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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