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An Even Bigger Show

By: Darrin Snider (darrin at indyintune dot com)
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 6:00:00 AM


A little history was made this week. Most of you probably didn't even know about it; others of you probably followed my posts a bit befuddled; the coolest of you joined me in rooting it on. I just figured, since I'm due for a blog post anyway, I might as well recap the week for you. Monday morning I got a Tweet from one of my favorite radio shows asking me to support the "Even Bigger Show" in their attempt to break the world record and stay on the air for 80 consecutive hours. Now, before you ask why a terrestrial radio station needs promotional help from a streaming Internet radio station, I should probably add that the radio station in question is located in Doncaster, England. Before you ask why I would have even put myself on the radar of a local radio station in a foreign country, I should probably add that the show is called "Dave Brock Buttered My Cat." (Light bulb.) The 5% of you who know who Dave Brock is are with me now; the rest of you are rolling your eyes and just assuming the music nerd side of my brain has found kindred spirits on the other side of the globe. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is bemoaning a major economic power where 95% of the population goes deer-in-the-headlights at a good sci-fi-based prog rock reference. Anyway, challenge in hand, I passed the word on like a good trooper and, just for grins, tuned in to Mark Kelly and Simon Saynor once I sat down at my desk. By lunch time, I was completely inspired.

By way of history, I discovered radio as a kid living in various small college towns back in the 70's. This was a magic era for radio. AM was waning, but still pretty popular. FM was still finding its legs, and thus largely experimental. Most importantly, and probably the most difficult part for anyone under the age of 30 to understand, the Feds had not yet deregulated ownership of radio stations, so the "Great Satans" like Clearchannel and Infinity with their mantras of "less talk; more commercials" did not exist. It was an amazing time when every radio station was different, and they were all competing for your ear. This was the era when it was all about crazy personalities called (finger quotes) "disk jockeys" doing crazy publicity stunts to get the town talking about them and tuning in to their station to see what was going to happen next. I know this is a foreign concept to you youngsters who have only known three types of pre-formatted radio stations and radio personalities who are spit out of machines in four prepackaged, completely predictable, flavors. Mark and Simon, however, were spontaneous, genuine, and knew their shit when it came to music ... of any genre (any they played just about all of them). I spent the afternoon feeling like I was nine years old again.

For three and a half days I wandered around with my earbuds in, refusing to go anywhere where I couldn't be close to an electrical outlet for recharging or free WiFi to keep the battery from draining too quickly. People were getting annoyed with having only half my attention ... especially my bosses. Sheesh, come on, radio history is being made here -- either that or one of these dudes is going to snap and strangle the other live on the air. Either way, I ain't missin' any of it. Meanwhile the guys were giving sporadic shout outs to everyone who was texting, Tweeting, or Facebooking in. I got a chuckle every time I heard the name of an Indianapolis musician in the middle of the mix. (Converts!) At one point, after a shout out from Jack Barkley, they apparently went out to YouTube and played a track from Whoa!Tiger, unsolicited, on the air. I mean, seriously, did you ever hear that happen here? Okay, maybe during the "specially designated" time every week when the corporate overlords allow their little trained minions to have a "local hour" ... which is really 36 minutes after commercials.

By the last night, you could tell 65 hours of sleeplessness was taking its toll. Fortunately, what was 2AM over there was barely the start of the weekly open mic over here. Once now "International Superstar Jack Barkley" and I got the gang caught up as to what was going on, we pulled the SineFM webcam up on an iPad and spent the evening passing it around the bar, taking pictures of it, and Tweeting them across the pone one every few songs -- just so good ol' Mark and Simon knew people actually were awake and rooting for them. We even videoed a song-dedication and posted it to Facebook for the guys, though that got butchered and finally showed up three hours later with the sound out of synch. We did get a little sporadic banter going, but obviously the guys were kinda busy over there, and 140 characters is hardly a conversation medium. In the end, we cleared up a few misconceptions about things, like "cockles" versus "clams." For example: in landlocked Indiana, clams are for sauces, chowder, or deep frying. Over there, clams are ubiquitous snacks that apparently get pickled, served with vinegar, or made into ice cream.

2013-04-03 22.19.002013-04-03 21.49.02 2013-04-03 21.56.392013-04-03 22.01.47 2013-04-03 22.01.31

In the end, they guys reclaimed their world record after 80 sleepless hours on the air. My faith was restored that there were still real personalities on the airwaves that can unite a community, fire the imagination, and inspire some of us to try to out-crazy them. Best of all, and it may sound corny, I loved that a group of people got pulled into a shared experience that was focused around music and radio. That's the kind of thing that, in my humble opinion, made the medium great back in its heyday, has been largely forgotten by corporate radio today, and is a completely foreign concept to a younger audience who seek out perfect playlists, computerized music recommendations, and the isolation of earbuds. To them I say, "Shut down the Pandora and do a little exploring on Tunein. Let a human introduce you to new music for a change." I know I'll never go back.

Hats off to Mark and Simon! Thanks for the ride!

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Show #145: Tonos Triad Returns
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My Mixed Tape for April 2013

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