Hey Mr. DJ

In his awesome new book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, Steve Almond describes a particular brand of music fan: the Drooling Fanatic. Among the identifying characteristics:

We were DJs in college and had a show with a name so stupid we are vaguely embarrassed to mention it now, though we are quite happy to mention that we were DJs in college.

Yes, I was a DJ in college. And the name of my show was Vinyl Jungle.

Playing music and getting free records was great, but by far, the most exciting part of being a college radio DJ was when people would call up and threaten to kill me. It really lent a certain air of excitement to the evening.

Once someone said they would blow up the radio station, which seemed highly unlikely, even though Plattsburgh Air Force Base was nearby and those guys could probably get explosives.

Another caller claimed he could see me walking around inside the radio station and was going to shoot me through the window with a hunting rifle. That spooked me. I spent the rest of the night crawling on the floor back and forth to the music library, rather than walking past the windows. Later, I snuck out the back door of the dorm where WPLT was headquartered.

In a way, it felt good that the music I was playing made people react so strongly. There were never calls telling me my segues were brilliant or thanking me for playing the entire side five of The Clash’s Sandinista. What I really wanted was for girls to call up and tell me they loved the Violent Femmes and that I was brilliant. But making people complain was certainly better than nothing.

10 thoughts on “Hey Mr. DJ

  1. Ah the good old days of manning the mic at WPLT. Though none of my shifts were ever as exciting as this. I would be happy to get a call, then be disappointed to hear it was the next DJ, “Can you let me in? The door is locked.”

  2. YES! I got calls from the prison also, a recorded message that would sound like this: “Would you accept a collect call from…PLAY SOME OZZY”.

  3. I can relate to the crawling around avoiding the windows thing.

    Try working for unemployment if you want drama… death threats, suicide threats, threats to employer, threats to employee…

    so not missing it even if I am glad that I talked people out of doing harm to themselves or others. If you ever work at an appeals level for unemployment (thereby assuring one side or the other will be p****d off), you will not remain naive. You will come to understand the meaning of the word jaded.

    Must say this: 45% of the time, it’s the employer’s fault; 45% of the time, it’s the employee’s; the other 10% is in the $h*t happens category and not anybody’s but employee gets the check since it wasn’t theirs.

    Don’t work for W*****t; do appreciate your job at the Post Office if you are working for them (well, that might have changed, I worked for unemployment 15 years ago when it was solvent). Opposite ends of the spectrum: the evil retail giant literally fires for looking at a supervisor the wrong way and hardly ever won a case; PO never fired without having cause and their i’s dotted and their t’s crossed, never in the 8 years a worked there lost one single solitary case.

  4. Long live Pilot 94! I loved the morning gig. Recently dug out some tapes of old shows and played them for my kids. Quite cringe-worthy.

  5. Wow! I never got any wild calls like that! It was cool when I did get the occasional random person or one of my friends calling in at 3am to request a song. Late nights at WNYO (SUNY Oswego) were fun times and I look back on them fondly! These days, when I’m not tied down to my regular mundane occupation (ahh, priorities), I still DJ a couple times a month in a local area bar and it continues to be something I love to do. The music’s got me.

  6. Back in my days at SUNY Albany’s(back when it was SUNY Albany), I would delight in taking requests and then never playing them. But only for one song..A song that to this day sickens me as a kyrptonite jock would sicken The Man of Steel.

    That song ?

    Europe’s “The Final Countdown”.. I’m Casey Kasem.

    Never named my show.. but I did used to start the Thursday evening shift by asking Gov. Cuomo’s daughter Madeline out- on the air. Hey, I’m Italian, Democrat and not all that hard on the eyes.. At least I didn’t used to be..

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