WFHB Bloomington Community Radio is the successor station to a “cable free-form radio station”, known as WQAX. QAX (pronounced “quacks”) thrived or limped from the early ’70s into the mid 90’s, when its place in the community was taken by WFHB, a low-power station that had obtained a broadcast license due to diligence on the part of community radio activists and arrogance and corruption on the part of the local media establishment.
No, really! The radio corporation that dominated Bloomington’s airwaves did something that PO’d an adjudicator during a frequency-granting application process: the multiply applying, and multiply denied til then, community radio folks were granted the frequency.
I began deejaying at QAX in 1980 when I was 14. I was kicked out when I was 16 in an incident involving many smashed duplicate copies of commercial vinyl which had been stored in a hallway. I rejoined at some point (I believe I was 18) , and shortly got the boot once more, I think this time for profanity. Or maybe it was booze in the studio.
I don’t know. To shorten this up a bit, I’m reasonably sure I was kicked out of the station membership at least three times, maybe four, for clear, unambiguous violation of the membership guidelines. It’s even possible that was ejected once when I was not a member; since I was deeply conversant with the station’s gear it was easy for me to sub for someone that needed a shift covered.
The fact that I was booted so frequently meant that I, and others, were quite vague about my membership status at any given time. I lived with two successive station managers, Bill and Chet. Eric Sinclair, with whom I joined the station and took my first training in the company of (a few days prior to a Halloween concert by one Frank Zappa in my hometown), later became the station’s last GM, and possibly the one who held that position the longest. More than two years, I believe: it was a thankless job, and certainly did not pay even one dime. All volunteer, you know!
Anyway, it seems likely I held the record for getting kicked out of the place. Not that I bear it any ill will: it rocked, and I loved it. It’s where I learned about music, and gay people, and punk rock, and the counterculture, and how seventies hippies hated punks. But, I assure you, not about pot. I learned about that on my own.
WFHB inherited the role of WQAX in the early nineties, with a bit more structure and a broadcast license, and somehow found a home in Bloomington’s turn-of the-century city hall. When I was a teenager, it was where my parents came to pick me up after I was arrested for, um, well, since I hadn’t yet had a drink, I won’t call it underage drinking. Call it “underage pouring out the MD 20/20 onto the floor of the car and sitting in the stench until the cops actually walk up to the car”. Yes, it was a police station.
Later, I attened what may have been the world’s only puppet wedding in the building.
“Where the hell are you going wth this, Whybark?”, shouts Ken Goldstein, of Jersey City, New Jersey (I can make his home address available to interested parties for a nominal fee, and can accompany that with a detailed description if required. Oh, and I have been reliably informed that he needs a freaking break*).
Well, check it out: I upgraded iTunes (Apple’s integrated audio player application) after a long delay, and noticed a “radio” option.
Hmm, sez I. Click the pic to make it big.
Clicking into a channel listing (I think it was “public”, but things appear to have changed in the last day or so) I saw: WFHB, KEXP (Seattle), KAOS (Olumpia), KCRW (Santa Monica), and KPIG. These stations represent pretty much the best of the wast coast stations and to see my beloved ‘FHB there (no university-affiliated WFIU, which made me happy for my cohort at FHB but sad as a consumer).
Anyway, I immediately accessed the WFHB stream. chudda-chudda-chudda-chudda-aiiiiii i i i – Black Metal, harder than hard, blacker than black, eviler than evil, enveloped me.
Now, I may have been a record-smashing, booze-swilling menace to a community asset back in the day, but these days I entertain myself by chaing bums out of my yard and anxiously awaiting the world premiere of Naqoyaqatsi while bending an ear to the sweet strains of field recordings of ten thousand Nepali monks beating the still-warm bodies of deceased yaks while singing “You Are My Sunshine” in the distinctive Himalayan multi-octave drone.
So I changed the channel, pleased that any damn kinda music can still get on the air at what I can only think of as MY radio station. Next time I’m in town maybe the Old Perfesser will let me get drunk, cuss, and bust up some crappy top 40 for old times’ sake.
*I think, but am not certain, that this really means Ken has not been havin’ any luck with the ladies. Ken! Go buy a bunch of comics at St. Mark’s. The ladies luuuv the middle-aged comics fan, all hot and puffy and like, with money and shit, in from Jersey for the day. Go on now. Go!