National Radio Week: Artist Encounters, Part 1

Interviews, National Radio Week
08/15/2017
Matthew Howland
Henry Rollins at KEXP // photo by Dave Lichterman (view set)

As part of KEXP's National Radio Week coverage, on the KEXP Blog we will be spotlighting some of the stories and personal testimonials given by a variety of radio luminaries in interviews done with KEXP DJs John Richards, Kevin Cole, and Morning Show producer Owen Murphy. These interviews articulately explain the enduring legacy of early independent radio stations, as well as the importance of radio to shape and create a community through shared love of music. In the words of WFNX DJ Kurt St. Thomas, "if you pay enough attention, radio will probably change your life."

Across nearly every interview conducted for National Radio Week, radio station DJs, program directors, and employees spoke of being given the opportunity to meet their musical idols. These interactions proved to be among the best stories shared with us. What follows is a handful of musician encounters:

Vin Scelsa of WFMU, on meeting Iggy Pop:

Vin Scelsa: Danny [Fields] brought the Stooges out to my show in 1969. I was no longer doing the nighttime show, I was doing the Afternoon Show because I was about to be drafted and I thought I could deal with the idea of being drafted if I was awake during the day. Somehow that was going to make it easier for me to get out of the draft. So Danny brought the Stooges by one afternoon, and I was interviewing Iggy Stooge, he wasn't known as Iggy Pop yet, in the little announcer booth. He threw up on me, he threw up on my sneakers. I remember saying, "Uhh, Iggy, you feeling okay, man?" He said, "Yeah, yeah, you know..." and I said, "Okay everyone, we're going to take a pause now and put on some music. Iggy just threw up on my sneakers." Ah, the memories of the early days of radio.
Kurt St. Thomas of WFNX, on meeting John Lydon (Johnny Rotten):

Kurt St. Thomas: I will always remember the first time I met Johnny Rotten from Sex Pistols. Evidently, someone told him that Boston was known for its seafood, and taken Mr. Rotten out for some clam chowder. I was very nervous that I was going to meet a Sex Pistol. When I opened the door, he was standing there with two record execs. I didn't know, however, that he had eaten clam chowder and that it would upset his stomach. The first words that he said were, "Hello, I feel like fucking puking everywhere." I pointed out the bathroom, and he went to the bathroom and threw up all over. I always thought if you were going to have someone throw up, it should be Johnny Rotten.

Jim McGuinn of Y100, on Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices) and Pete Yorn:

Jim McGuinn: I was talking to Pete Yorn [at a music festival] and he was really big at the time, playing the MainStage, and I said, "Oh yeah, Guided by Voice is about to play out on the side stage." It was this hot, flat, parking lot-style space. Pete said, "Oh my god, let's go see GBV." We traipsed across the pavement and everyone was like oh my god, it's Pete Yorn. We got there and Robert Pollard offered us shots of absinthe in the 95-degree weather. I had this moral dilemma-- theoretically, I was running this whole day as the program director for this radio station and kind of in charge. But when else am I going to get to do a shot of absinthe with Robert Pollard? So I did the shots, and that show was great.

Mark Sovel of Indie 103.1, on Henry Rollins:

Mark Sovel: Some of my favorite memories were the conversations I had with Henry Rollins. Every week, I would be sitting at my desk at the end of the day and Rollins would show up at my door with a crate of records on his shoulder. I would say, "How's it going, Henry?" He'd say, "Oh, I'm okay, I just came back from the Killing Fields of Cambodia and I was walking on skulls and bones." Every single time I saw him he would have an amazing story to tell. He would go away for a few weeks and he'd say, "Oh, I got kidnapped by the Malaysian secret service because they thought I was an ex-marine working for..." He dedicates his life to going around and collecting stories. So I got to sit there with Rollins standing in my doorway just before he was going to his show. That was one of the great joys of that radio station.

KEXP is celebrating National Radio Day all week long both online and on the air; click here to see all our coverage on the KEXP Blog.

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