BTS: (The Show With No Name)

A few years back, some friends of mine got the moxie and the money together and started an Internet-based radio station, Birmingham Mountain Radio. I helped Harper with the web site (the design — this is before I was working with him, prior to having learned anything about C# and .NET web development), and eventually pestered Jeff into letting me have my own show.

The pestering started with the idea of a weekly show focused on hard rock and metal — not in line with the station format of AAA, but hey, this is Internet radio, right? No rules and such. At least, so went my argument. An argument that went over, it should be noted, about as well as a swallow dipped in chrome. Persistence is friend to the marginally talented, though, and I eventually got my compromise: a weekly couple of hours focused on music that is heavier and darker than the rest of our format, but still related. The opposite of Reg’s Coffee House — a flip side of the coin, as it were. After all, if there are people that dig finding out about singer-songwriter releases that you wouldn’t normally hear, there are people that want to hear the more rocking stuff, too, right?

And so, (The Show With No Name) was born.

It’s gone through a lot of evolution in a year-and-a-half (and continues to morph and shift into it’s own creature). Currently (and for the foreseeable future), it’s hosted by myself and Jeremy Harper. I pick most of the music each week, with a little help from Harper and Melisa (both of home are much more comfortable in the format confines than I am).

Doing a weekly radio show is more work than most people would imagine, I imagine. (echo?) There’s the two hours of the actual show, but the preparation is the tricky part — hours of sifting through ten or forty new albums every week, finding stuff that fits the show, stuff that I like (or at least, that I think the listeners would like). And it sounds like it’s easy, creating a 120 minute playlist every week, and it is, in some light. Especially if, like me, you love music, and love discovering new music. But then, remember that it shouldn’t ever become predictable, else people stop tuning in. Some weeks, there’s just not enough new music to fill out the time, so you have to dig through the archives, trying to remember what you’ve played recently, and what you maybe haven’t turned people on to yet…

The hardest part for me is drawing the line between my tastes and what will work on the radio. It’s nice to think that I can drop in my favorite Devin Townsend track, or the new Storm Corrosion disc, or anything from the Coheed & Cambria catalog… but it doesn’t necessarily work that way, or that well. As much as I dig them — and hopefully, at least a few people listening might, too — the truth is that a lot of what I listen to (especially in the context of everything I listen to) is an acquired taste. The new Steven Wilson leans heavily on its 70’s prog influences; Devin Townsend is Phil Spector meets Andrew Lloyd Webber in a knife fight with Meshuggah. These aren’t necessarily things that anyone other than me wants to hear, as Harper points out to me reasonably often.

If you dream of being a DJ… just stop, now. Really. Even if you buck the system and manage to get your own show, playing what you want (instead of what your program director’s computer tells you people want to hear), you’re in for a lot more work than you imagine, and for far less money. None, if you’re working on the bleeding edge of the radio-internet idea, for instance.

But, you know, First World Problems and all that. Overall, it’s something I enjoy, placing it safely in the “postiives” column (I guess that’s obvious, given that I’m still doing it after twenty months). I do get to share a lot of good music that most people wouldn’t hear otherwise — hopefully turning folks on to unfamiliar tunes (and expanding the fanbase of some deserving artists). And, you know, occasionally slipping the random prog tune into the playlist, when no one’s looking.