I met Reed somehow in the NYC/Tri-State punk scene several years ago. He was always trying to get my old band to come play his radio show and was in a band called DIPPERS. He s a good guy with a good radio show. Check it out…
Tell us about WFMU.
WFMU is an independent music radio station that broadcasts out of Jersey City, NJ, which can be heard on the airwaves in parts of New Jersey, New York City, and the Hudson Valley, and worldwide on your computer at wfmu.org. We are the longest-running free form radio station in the country, which means that individual DJs (who are all volunteers) set the programming for our own shows. The station plays a lot of different kinds of music, a lot of it being rock and roll, or experimental based. Our funniest and most widely listened to show is The Best Show on WFMU, a three-hour call in comedy show that I highly recommend listening to every week, if you don’t already. It’s cool to have a home for independent music that has a history, has real people telling you the story of the music they are playing, and exists in an actual physical realm. We own a building in the barren wastelands of downtown Jersey City, and it’s a nice place to spend some time and spin some records.
I accidentally played a skit about having sex with goats while I was cueing another record. This happened right before a hockey game, when the most people are listening to that station by far. So I got booted from my show for the rest of the semester. Whoops.
How did you get involved there?
I was working for an environmental health organization called the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, and got laid off due to lack of funding available for our projects. I was a fan of the station and decided to spend some of my newly acquired free time stuffing envelopes, filing new music, and drinking beers with people around the station. The rest is history.
How did you wind up with a show?
I made a demo, and followed up with a lot of persistence and ass kissing.
Whadda ya mean by “Distort Jersey City”?
This is distort, this is distort, this is distort, Distort Jersey City.
Didn’t you have a radio show before Distort?
Previous to WFMU, I did a show for about a year called Crust Never Sleeps on an internet station in Bushwick called Newtown Radio. The station was located in a shitty practice space in the same building as The Sweatshop if you’re familiar. The equipment completely sucked, and we would literally mix live sessions by walking into the hallway with a laptop and listening to the broadcast, and then coming back into the room and adjusting on the fly. It was very awesome of my dude Zeke to always do sound and really make that work. My favorite moments from that show were the Crazy Spirit session when Henry used buckets as drums, The Men session before they booted Chris Hansel, Jay talking about his grandparents sailing during the CREEM interview, and the stand up comedy of Ben Wessels from Coughing Fit. You can still listen to all the archiveshere.
How’d you get involved with radio as a medium?
When I was in high school, my Dad did a show on a college station called WRPI that focused on left-wing New York state politics. I played the music for his show, and then decided to just start doing my own. At one point my show was on Friday afternoons, so a lot of my friends would come to the station after school and we’d play literally whatever type of music we felt like for a couple of hours, and then eat pizza and skateboard and do bad things around the campus afterwards. I did a couple of live sessions, including Albany punk legends The Menace Society, and a hard rock and roll band called To Hell and Back featuring Jim of Devoid of Faith. They really hated me at that station, because it was run by socially incompetent idiots who went to tech college, and we were punks who had fun and hated authority and shit.
Any embarrassing on air slip-ups?
Constantly. Records at the wrong speed and dead air for a few seconds being the primary culprits. Back when I was at WRPI, I accidentally played a skit about having sex with goats while I was cueing another record. This happened right before an RPI hockey game was about to air, which is when the most people are listening to that station by far. So I got booted from my show for the rest of the semester. Whoops.
What types of bands do you have on air?
We have a live band pretty much every week. Anything abrasive and underground, really. Mostly hardcore and punk stuff, but I have had on a fair amount of noise things, some techno, some rock and roll, some pop punk. More or less people who I am friends with or am fans of their music. Seeing bands play is pretty much my favorite thing to do. Spinning records is cool and all, but capturing a unique live set from a band I’m into is why I really do this show. Hit me up if your band is in the area or coming through and tour and is interested in playing. You can listen to all of the live bands we’ve had on including Deformity, Career Suicide, Omegas, Believer/Law, Bad Noids, Raw Nerve, Shoxx, Pharmakon, Container, Alberich, Survival, Gun Outfit, Youth Avoiders, CREEM, DJ Dog Dick, Nuclear Spring, Hounds of Hate, Thee Nodes, Nomad, Pink Reason, Estrogen Highs, Potty Mouth, No Class, Wild Child, California X, Rational Animals and others atwfmu.org/playlists/rd.
Who was the last band that came through?
Tonight I’m recording Negation, an abrasive power-electronics outfit with some rad homemade synths and oscillators and biting political lyrics, hailing from 538 Johnson Avenue #201, Brooklyn NY.
Why do you live in New Jersey, it smells? Why don’t you go to NYC where it’s hip and happening?
I live in Brooklyn and commute to my show. The station is close to where Mateo grew up. New Jersey rules though, and it smells like garbage, rotting meat, and asshole where I live in Brooklyn.
I thought you still lived in Jersey — my bad! Didn’t mean to offend. How can we tune into your show?
You can tune in live every Wednesday 7-8pm eastern at 91.1fm in NYC/NJ, or 90.1fm in the Hudson Valley. You can tune in live or listen to all of the show’s archives at any time at wfmu.org/playlists/rd. You can keep up with us on social media atfacebook.com/DistortJerseyCity
Thanks Reed! Any last words? Shout outs?
Thank you Amelia and MRR for the interview. Thanks to any band that has played the show and all of our volunteer engineers who have recorded bands for me: Ernie, Zeke, Dave, Scott, Diane, Juan, Jason, other Scott, Mark, Chuck. Thanks to Hannah for listening every week. No thanks to anyone in this scene who has exploited DIY punk in pursuit of their five minutes of hipster blog fame. Punk will never die, indie rock will. Fuck you.