Dark's Corner

we are not alone: part deux

we are not alone: part deux

Lance Stinson and Rob

Buck were in jail, and

they felt safe. It wasn’t

actually a jail that they

were in–rather some

cramped little office

with bars on the

windows. It was Bike

Week and M4 Radio

was doing a remote

“broadcast” at

Tennessee’s Saloon in

Sanford, Florida. A

rather bleak area of

Sanford, you might say.

The bar was crawling

with leather clad bikers

and middle-aged babes with low-cut blouses and skin

like rawhide and as cyclists blasted right into the front

door with engines roaring, the two radio jocks, known

as Stammerin’ Banzai and McGyver respectively,

hunkered down over the equipment in that tiny room

and worked. The music that cranked out of the

speakers was rowdy enough because once the

itinerant duo got a good look at the crowd, they

figured that the usual eclectic mix of international

independent music wouldn’t fly. Despite a frantic

leaning towards harder edged tunes, a few missteps

resulted in drunken bikers yelling obscenities about

killing the DJ if the quality of music didn’t improve. The

bars made them feel safe, but they were a little too

wide. Perhaps a beer bottle could still make its way

through there, if it was aimed properly. Hell, maybe a

gun? Did Hell’s Angels use guns? No, they preferred to

knife or stomp their victims to death. The pair dove

into their limited traveling CD collection and began

cuing more carefully.

we are not alone: part deux

M4 Radio is run on a

next-to-nothing budget

funded by co-owner

and program director

Stormy and Stinson,

whose trademark

stutter earned him his

moniker. They, along

with resourceful

engineer (hence the

“McGyver” tag) Buck,

had spent plenty of

low-rent hours at a

small AM station in

Sanford, dealing with

aging broadcast equipment from the 40’s and an

apathetic station management. 1400 WTRR eventually

went all-Spanish and left the crew without a broadcast

home. A supposed deal with Genesis Media Group to

buy them out and supply a much-needed influx of cash

fell through. But slowly and surely, equipment was

charged on fried-out credit cards with efforts towards

becoming a 24-hour internet radio station. Stacks of

digital recorders, CD players and a central mixing

board with more ins and outs than Parliament House

on a Saturday night began to pile-up in McGyver’s

spacious bedroom studio. Each 4-hour show is

recorded onto digital minidisc in a traditional

programming block. A backup copy is saved on

standard VHS tape in case of equipment foul-up, which

happens from time to time.

we are not alone: part deux

“Aw fuck,” swears

McGyver as he stops

recording and clicks

the stopwatch . He

reaches behind the

equalizer and I sit back

from the microphone.

Banzai does the same,

then begins doing a

little dance. It’s been

nine or ten weeks as of this writing, that’s when I was

asked to join the in- studio crew based on an

appearance on the show when it was still at WTRR .

AUDRA JOST and I went there to play live and spin

some of our music. Our banter that day painted a path

directly to the bed on which I sit as McGyver wiggles

wires around. “The left channel just went out, I’m

gonna have to get inside this thing.” This guy is an

invaluable asset to the show. His uncanny musician’s

ear (he’s a skilled drummer) results in professional

“broadcasts” that feature entertaining audio collages

and a seamless flow of music. He’s also the guy that

reins in the madness and keeps us on a professional

time schedule. Banzai is a manic presence, exuberant

and puppy-like with a gleeful appreciation for sexual

innuendo . Though the first show was sloppy and

meandering (a twelve-pack of Icehouse will do that),

the current shows are slick as goose-shit and feature

an ever-growing collection of unsigned music from

around the world.

we are not alone: part deux

The search for a station

continues, but the

internet is a growing

radio market. Through

the magic of

RealAudio, web surfers

can listen to local

broadcasts from just

about every major city

in the world! Some are

recorded programs, like M4 Radio, while others are

actually broadcast live through a process called

“streaming”. And you thought choosing between thirty

or so stations on the car radio was too many choices

and not enough of what you want. A simple glance at

the Real Audio Event Guide shows that literally

hundreds and thousands of internet radio stations are

at your fingertips. Another close glance will reveal

very few supporters of independent music and

practically none that follow a basic radio format. For

ease of transport and production sake, the M4 Radio

show is recorded in five one-hour blocks. Using

pre-recorded inserts on minidisc, McGyver controls the

sound effects and music cues that bracket ad slots and

the spaces between song blocks. He spins the discs

that Stormy has playlisted, they come from bands that

send in their material and also music that we get from

bands in the clubs or at events. Very often,

hot-off-the-press CDR’s are getting “airplay” on

M4radio.com long before the larger stations even get

wind of a local album release. After four hours of

music is recorded and saved onto digital minidiscs, we

do a one-hour block of entertainment news. The mood

is casual and light, there’s not a lot of drama, though

Banzai has become the show’s whipping boy. With

McGyver providing plenty of affability and myself as

the living cartoon, Banzai is somewhat the Village

Idiot and a good amount of ribbing has to do with his

“heterosexual latin male sex God” facade. PD Stormy

hasn’t been on-air for some time and a fifth M4 voice,

Ron Betts, is overseas at press time . The show is

recorded weekly on Sunday’s and plans to double

programming are in the works. It’s a full days work,

gathering the CD’s , making up playlists, researching

band info and actually producing the show in sound

bites and live bits when the equipment isn’t glitching.

Now, Mterviews will present one-hour up close and

personal talks with bands, listening to their music and

getting into their heads about not only tunes, but the

times as well. M4radio.com Presents is a new concert

showcase that has already featured MIRRORED IMAGE,

SEASONS OF THE WOLF, BRANIAC’S DAUGHTER and

SHOES FOR PAUL. After a talk with DAVID SEGAL of

Alien Surf Productions (“Bootleg: Orlando”), plans for

M4 Video are in the beginning stages as well.

we are not alone: part deux

“There, that

oughta hold it

until

tomorrow,”

says McGyver,

as he slides the

component

back into place

and gives the

front panel a

flick of his

finger. “Alright,

let’s see if she floats.” He cues up an intro and raises a

couple of faders on his Mackie board. Both LED bars

light up on the machine and he picks up the stopwatch

and clears the display. “Yess! Okay, let’s do it, we’re

pushing midnight.” Indeed, a late start due to vehicular

problems and there were real jobs waiting in the

morning and the problems that come with them. With

renewed energy, we pull the microphones closer and

prepare to do the last hour with spirit. I’ve got a

strange history of getting involved with the focus of my

columns at times, but that speaks to the

inter-connected symbiosis that exists within Orlando

and other parts of the state. Not the same bloodwater

frenzy that accompanies the corporate moshing of the

bigger showbiz towns. Remember, there’s lots of

freshwater here and considerably more dolphins than

sharks. Unfortunately, even at 24 hours a day–there

wouldn’t be enough airtime for local bands from all

over, all styles of music. What there needs to be are

specialized formats for local music, just like the

corporates. That way, everybody cooperates, no-one

gets squeezed out, everybody wins. It sounds so

simple, but it really could work like that. Till then,

M4radio.com is a first step towards giving

independents a true voice in the towering face of

corporate music. r ui.ru.u


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