As everyone knows now the ‘on air’ version of The Meat and Potatoes Show has been terminated. My time at WCUW in Worcester has been rewarding for myself but difficult to be accepted. Almost immediately after the first independent show aired in 2009 I was ankle deep in controversy and complaints.
I knew then I was on to something. However:
You would think that people would want something to think about. You would think that a community, underground, independent, listener supported radio station would ‘want’ something that sparked a listener’s anxious ear for something (anything) provocative and new. Backbone in this post 9/11 America is anything ‘but’.
I think the one person who had any ‘hutzpah’ during this whole thing was my Mentor and friend, William Le Blanc. He is better known around here as Captain PJ of the Rockin’ Revolution radio show at WCUW. He stuck his neck out for me in 2008 and convinced an all Liberal radio Board of Directors to allow my decidedly Right show to be part of the schedule.
So, I interned for about eight months with PJ in 2008-2009. We had a lot of fun in those early days and I watched him spin his tunes and work the system. The best thing was that I played in rock bands for years and already understood how to work a Soundboard and hooking up components and tape, etc, etc. But the story gets even more detailed beyond what I understood at the time.
The whole ‘radio’ thing began when an old band I was in during the 80’s played live at WCUW. The performance was aired 8/25/85 on a show called ‘Radio Free Amerika’ and set up by Captain PJ. The entire performance is on a Reel in full audio complete with interview and I, cannot for the life of me, remember who hosted that show!.
But, that ‘Reel’ was lost soon after that performance. But stay tuned.
Fast forward to 2008..This is as related to 1985 and my band performance and the chance meeting of PJ in 2008 as chalk is to cheese. Stay with me here.
I lost my home in 2008 and moved to an apartment in the center of Northborough. I had many anxiety ridden sleepless nights.
The store in the center was open 24 hours and I would often walk the 100 feet to get coffee and chat with the clerk there. I had worked there years ago and knew this person well. ..Anyhow:
One morning I am there at three am stressing out and PJ wheels into the parking lot fresh from his show. Myself and the clerk are outside like Jay and Silent Bob smoking butts and talking shit.
Now PJ is quite a character. Picture in your mind a cross between a borderline Downs Syndrome Danny DeVito and a Iconoclastic Marlon Brando 50’s biker and you have Captain PJ. He was what we called a ‘Townie” back those days. He worked at WCUW forever and had been apart of every generation in Northborough since 1970. He knew about every dirt in town, every band, show, event, dealer, you name it: PJ was your Town Cryer.
PJ had a disability and he was living in an old house in town while awaiting ‘housing’. He was a crack ‘audiophile’ and knew music like you know your own ass!
So we start up a conversation and I just happen to spit out (nah, I put my foot in his door) that I would love to go back to the studio and get into radio. The following week I was riding shotgun in PJ’s car on my way to 910 Main Street Worcester.
What a hell hole that place had become..
It was never a high end studio on par with any commercial station but it was a radio station. The years had not been kind to WCUW. Bad management and a loss of revenue was plaguing this poor icon of a poor city. Not a whole lot of money had been spent on the building itself and it showed. The old stage area I performed once on was removed and now housed a make shift ‘library’ of cd’s. The transmitter was failing and there was no central heat, the roof leaked, hell, I have no idea what was keeping that place together.
The following months would witness the hiring of a new manager, the rebuilding of the studio, production room and the new FRONTROOM where live performances would take place. I was there and I was witness to it all the interactions and I was thrilled to be there. But the bloom was soon off the rose.
During my training days I had asked PJ about “The Reel”. I had searched the mishmash of a library and could not find it. I knew it was there. I felt it.. I had asked PJ about it.
Sure enough he knew exactly what I was talking about!
He assured me he would find it. The following weekly show, he had the original Reel from the recording from 1985.
I felt as if I had come home again.
This is where I met John, Bruce (his wacky girlfriend) and a guy I will call Bob. Bob is dead now. All of these characters had issues. Bruce (his wacky girlfriend) didn’t work and lived in public housing. Bob did too and all of them were ‘audiophiles’ also. John would drink and get wasted and play odd, acid laced music. Nine minute tunes from King Crimson and Pink Floyd, that kind of thing.
One thing I was guaranteed to witness was the blue haze of weed smoke as I entered the studio from these people every Thursday night at eleven. This radio thing was going to be fun!