words by Cal Roach
I think a lot of people probably got into WMSE because of punk rock. When you grow up in a small Wisconsin town and all you can tune into are the Madison commercial stations, you feel an insular sense of ownership of the music you love that they won’t play on the radio. It was liberating to move to Milwaukee and discover that there were lots more people who listened to underground stuff, but quite a different thing to be scrolling through the dial one evening in 1994 and hearing Black Flag’s “TV Party”.
I didn’t know whether to be elated or miffed that my secret music was actually right there on free airwaves for anybody to hear, but the confusion probably only lasted a minute or two. Song after blistering hardcore song that I’d never heard before blared out of the one working speaker in my ’77 Impala, and I felt a reawakening coming on. At that time, punk was about all I ever wanted to listen to; the rest of the weird music on 91.7 would have to wait. Before long, I figured out that 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Mondays was the only three-hour stretch during which to catch ‘The Rude Boy’, and for several years, that was the only time I ever listened.
Well, sort of. After The Rude Boy’s classic Beavis & Butt-Head outro, a voice counted in the pummeling electronic beat of Propaganda’s “Jewel.” Techno (as we punks called all electronic music in those days) was the scourge of my existence, so I always had to scramble to a commercial station when the BTS.WRKNG show started. But after a while, against my every instinct and moral fiber, I started to ‘forget’ to change the station at 9 p.m., letting the ‘evil techno’ work its way into my psyche. How could I possibly reconcile this with my hard-line guitar/bass/drum ethos–forget about if my FRIENDS ever found out??? I was simultaneously thrilled and disgusted with myself, as I began to get sucked into a different underground altogether. No telling what might or could come of this deviant behavior…
(Do you have a story about something you first heard on WMSE that changed your life (or at least your mood for the day)? Send Cal an email to cal [at] you-phoria [dot] com.