Monday, January 7, 2019

My Alternative Rock

It's a late night in my dorm room at the University of Missouri, circa 1991. If I was working on a Pascal program for one of my comp-sci classes, scanning online bulletin boards (before the Internet came home), or working on a long-nurtured novel, I had Columbia's KARO radio on my headphones. That's where I first encountered this record by Chi Coltrane. For a long time, I thought it was a Carole King hit. Only a YouTube search decades later finally set me straight.

A mix of your servant's favourite music
and moves, set to stories and observations.

I considered working at the Mizzou student station, KCOU. But here was the problem: I had zero knowledge of alternative rock music, and the DJ application asked, "Name the first three bands you would play." That pretty much doomed me. I had no desire to crash-course on music, especially when I had so much other stuff to get in there.

So I stuck with what I knew, even though I tuned into KCOU's uncensored Friday-night rap and hip-hop show, where the announcers would hype tracks with, "That record is so dope."

Otherwise, I was content with classic rock, oldies, and some AC or AAA (Adult Contemporary or Adult Album Alternative for those of you who don't read Billboard). I flipped my FM tuner between KARO in Columbia and KKCA in Fulton -- the call letters standing for Kingdom of Calloway, a reference to a Civil War separatist enclave that actually existed as a sovereign state within Missouri until after the war. (According to the Kingdom of Calloway Historical Society, "We were proud that we had faced adversity, had stood strong against it, and had won our right to be who we wanted to be.")

KKCA played oldies, and one day in the early 1990's, I gather they decided to pull out all the disco records they had lying around from a bygone era. So for one day only, the Kingdom of Calloway was treated to the "Disco Nightmare," one that brought a surprisingly positive response from listeners.

These two stations considerably expanded my mental playlist more than college radio ever did, or ever tried to. Alternative is in the eye of the beholder.

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