Last Saturday night 90.5 KCSU fm, my old college radio station, hosted an alumni party in honor of its 50th Anniversary. I’m pretty sure my era of KCSU turned out the most people, and you can see a bunch of us in the photo below.
That’s what former college radio DJs look like in their 30s, which is pretty much like what any group of dorks in their 30s looks like. The difference is, these were MY dorks, and being back with them was goddamn life affirming in ways I didn’t expect.
One of the more personally entertaining exchanges I had was with a guy who started at KCSU right about the time I was finishing up. He worked in the sports department, and I hosted the punk show. Our paths didn’t cross that frequently.
One Friday night, I arrived at the station to host my show only to find I’d been pre-empted for live coverage of a women’s volleyball game. I was pissed, which was not surprising considering how much of my 20s I spent pissed off at all sorts of things. I was justified in being upset about not getting any advance notice of my pre-emption, but that wasn’t even the main issue. I’ll get there in a second.
I called the program director, my friend Baker, and I yelled at him for a good 10 minutes. Thinking back on it, this display was incredibly petulant and startlingly arrogant given that I basically yelled at what could be considered my boss and told him to unfuck the situation. I asked Baker if he remembered this, and he said, “Oh yeah, I remember it. It wasn’t fun.”
Being the good guy he was and is, he apologized, and offered me the timeslot normally occupied by the weekly sports show to compensate. I appreciated his prompt solution and excellent managerial skills. According to Cole, who was working that night, Tyler the host whose show I was now pre-empting, and head of the sports department, was now royally pissed. Fuckin’ Jonny X, is what he apparently said along with a bunch of other stuff that mirrored the anger I felt toward him and the entire sports department.
And what was at the heart of this beef? Only the desire to host our shows. All we wanted was to do what we loved as much as we possibly could, and if someone impeded that goal, goddamn did we get angry about it.
We all laughed about it on Saturday, but those white hot emotions I hadn’t touched in so long stirred once more. Having been in a long funk at work, beaten down by an increasing level of tedious bureaucracy, being surrounded by the energy of creative people who were willing to yell at their bosses just for the benefit of doing their beloved shows woke me up and made me feel amazing.
I was no great shakes as a DJ, but I poured so much of myself into that show. Reminiscing with my friends who felt the same way about their own parts of the station put a grin on my face that hasn’t left.
Well, maybe not a grin, but whatever this is I’m doing with my punk cohort Jitter (on the right), and my friend Marika, whose off-puttedness at us only makes me love her more.
I love all these people, and it reminds me of why I started this podcast in the first place. I am happiest when I’m surrounded by creative people who do what they love. And I’m happy to bring that to you each and every week. I’m not sure I would have ended up here had it not been for KCSU.
Happy anniversary, KCSU. May you rock on for 50 years more.
Two additional insights from the night:
1) With my wife pregnant (and at a different event that evening), I flew solo. I told her I’d catch a cab home that night, which I did. As I stood waiting for the cab, I contemplated how I felt, and I found myself doing that thing where you try to convince yourself you’re not that drunk, and you could probably drive home, and hell… you probably should drive home because getting the car tomorrow is going to be a giant pain in the ass after all… But that didn’t last long because I thought about my unborn child. I honest to God thought of that, and shut the door on those thoughts altogether. It wasn’t worth the risk.
They say something changes within you when you have a child, and I always sort of scoffed at that. But in this case, I totally got it. Being a selfish dickhead no longer impacted just me, or just me and Kristin, but had remarkably greater implications now. My decision became easy, which had the side effect of making me feel like shit for all the times I ignored the right choice and drove in a borderline state in the past. I’m not proud of that, but the past is nothing unless you learn from it.
2) I told Kristin the next morning, “I really enjoyed my cab driver last night.” She replied, “You ALWAYS enjoy your cab driver.” I laughed my ass off because never had I become of something about myself that I didn’t previously realize that was both so funny and true. I apparently love cab drivers.