M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Friday, July 12, 2002  

My friend The Engineer co-hosts a late-night radio show in the Quad Cities. It’s actually the top-rated radio show in its time zone for that market, which is pretty damn cool. Of course, I didn’t know that when I was on the show, or I probably would have talked even less.

This was about a year ago. The show, which The Engineer hosts with his old friend The Phantom (I’m calling him that because the nickname he normally uses has totally supplanted his real name) is three solid hours of hardcore Metal music. What, you thought Nirvana killed Metal? Tell you what: put a big, flat rock on top of a bug, then look under the rock again after a decade. That’s how dead Metal is now. You just don’t see as much of it. And no, I’m not talking about Nu-Metal or Rap-Metal or anything you see during late nights on MTV2. I’m talking about Speed Metal, Black Metal, Death Metal, Christian Metal, Goth Metal, Jazz Metal, Sex Metal, Congressional Metal of Honor, Metalcore, Grindcore, Noisecore, Marinecore, Peacecore, and any number of other Metals and Cores. Just writing this paragraph has caused the word “Metal” to lose all meaning for me. I had no idea there were so many subgenres of Metal. And all of them are thriving, with countless bands putting out CDs and playing shows all the time. Regular readers of Pit Magazine already know all this, but it was something of a revelation for me. I lifted the rock expecting to see a squashed bug and found a scene teeming with life. And it’s life that plays its instruments reallyreallyfast!!

The Engineer is a part of this scene, although he’ll downplay his role at every opportunity. He’s a member of as many as thirty-seven different bands at any given time. Once, Trash and I found a CD called Quad Cities Rocks at a used record store here in Minneapolis. We bought it, planning to ask The Engineer if he knew about any of the bands on it. Turns out he was in most of them.

Every week, The Engineer loads up his car with several CD carriers the size of Igloo coolers (full of Metal! Nothing but Metal!) and hauls them up to the studio from whence he and The Phantom rule the airwaves until 3 a.m. When I was in the Quad Cities a year ago, The Engineer invited me up to watch them do the show. I’d like to say I helped them do the show, but there was a great deal more watching than helping on my part. Basically, they were Mr. Wizard and I was Timmy.

It’s technically a college radio station, but it’s still subject to FCC regs. The Engineer explained to me how they used to have a lot more leeway, language-wise, but management was cracking down and they had to be a lot more careful about what they said and played on the air. Which means they have to screen every song they play before it goes on the air, since some of these Metal bands aren’t exactly Ned Flanders. There’s even one band they can only refer to by its initials. Never mind what they’re called.

So the very first song of the show I visited was a pre-screened, radio-friendly ditty called “In for the Kill.” The Phantom dropped the needle on the live version, which they hadn’t previously listened to. And the evening’s show started with the band’s lead singer howling, ad lib, “IN FOR THE F#@&ING KIIIIIILL!

It’s to The Engineer’s and The Phantom’s credit that they dissolved into laughter instead of panic.

Later on, Baron and Blade from the Star Wars Metal band Hoth Wampa dropped by for an in-studio interview. I’m not making up a single word of that.

When Trash and I visited again last weekend, The Engineer invited me back to the show. Of course, he also invited Trash and Corpkitten and the Latvian Lover, but I was the only one who took him up on it. The Engineer's S.O., The Disqueen, wasn't about to go, so it was just me. Since I wasn’t planning to stay until he signed off at three, I decided to follow him to the station in my own car. I waited by the curb until his SUV pulled around the corner from the alley where he was parked, then smoothly dropped in behind him.

I’m not real familiar with the Quad Cities, so I just latched onto his bumper and let him do the steering. At the same time, I was futzing with my radio dial to try to find his station, a task complicated by the fact that I couldn’t remember the frequency and by the fact that the Quad Cities has radio stations at every decahertz increment. Also, I was trying to dig out the correct change for the bridge toll and why is The Engineer turning here?

Oh, well. He knows what he’s doing. This is his town, not mine. Maybe he’s stopping to pick up the Phantom. Except the Phantom doesn’t live in this neighborhood. Hmm.

This isn’t really a side street, anyway, so I guess we’re still on the way…
This, however, is a side street. What the hell? Why is he turning again? Why is he turning back the way we were going before? Why are we just circling some random residential block?

When did his Durango become an Explorer?

Yes, I was following the wrong damn car. That’s what I get for not paying attention to what I was doing. I not only missed the show, I made The Engineer late by making him drive around looking for me, and I totally freaked out some poor Explorer driver who no doubt thought he was going to be greeting the sunrise in pieces from the back of my station wagon. Sorry, Explorer driver. Didn’t mean to stalk you there.

So much for my illustrious career in radio. This Internet thing is working out a lot better.

* * *

If you’re in the Quad Cities some Friday, check out the show at midnight on KALA-FM, 88.5 and 105.5. The request line number is 333-6216. I’d give you the area code, but you don’t need it if you don’t already know it.

posted by M. Giant 4:11 PM 0 comments


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