Radio Daze

Three specialty shows are sneaking underground music on the Valley's moribund airwaves

So what would possess someone to sink their own limited income into a project like this? For Ductape, the answers are as obvious as the nose on his face: "Reviving the soul of punk rock in the state of Arizona! Love of music. This is my profession.

"I am going to do everything in my power to keep this show going. Phoenix needs it. Phoenix loves it. We're getting overwhelming response from callers who love what we're doing, and every broadcast it grows. If one person calls, then it's worth giving up my paychecks to keep it going."

Ductape and Noxious emphatically lean toward the harder, more aggressive side of punk. Possibly because both of their record collections are so large, no two installments of their show are remotely similar. Nonetheless, their affection for hard-core godfathers like The Mentors and Black Flag consistently shines through. When they slip in more recent punk records, the material generally tends to be slow grind-core. One hurdle they face is a populace that's confused and uncertain about what constitutes punk rock in 1999.

"Since I've started this, I've had chiropractors who do shows here say, 'Punk rock? That's still around?' They've heard of it, but people haven't grasped real punk rock. It's not 311. It's not Green Day. It's not the Offspring. All new music sucks," Ductape says.

In direct contrast to his partner's final assertion, Noxious says, "We try to turn our listeners on to new music."

Where they agree is on the dismal state of most commercial radio. The loosening of FCC standards in recent years regarding corporate ownership of multiple stations in a single market has only further entrenched the formulaic programming of modern radio.

Just as you can travel from town to town and always find a McDonald's or a Burger King, you can go from one metropolitan area to another and always find an Edge, or a Zone or a Froggy Country. Ductape and Noxious are determined not to let their playlists--or their frequently surreal on-air discussions with listeners--overlap with what's heard on the rest of the dial.

"This is our generation," Ductape says after hearing a male caller describe how he trashed a police car. "It needs a vocal point. We need to speak about our car wrecks and bad acid trips, because we've all done it. We're grown-up now, but I've trashed many a car for no good goddamned reason."

Craven Moorehead might sound like the ideal moniker for a well-endowed porn star, but it's actually the name of the Edge's Sunday night Ska-Punk host. The show was started by local radio veteran Larry Mac, and Moorehead, an Ohio native, took over the show seven months ago when Mac left the station.

"I never had any thoughts about being on the air," he says. "I've been working in Hollywood the last two years doing audio production, and I was doing that there. They saw what I had and said go for it. So I was lucky."

As with the Punk Rock Radio Show, some of this is coming out of the DJ's pocket. "I lose money doing the show," Moorehead says. "All the stuff I've collected on wax I have to convert to CD. You should ask Eastside [Records] how much I'm spending there."

The show airs on Sunday nights from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., with Moorehead recently getting the third hour by lobbying for more time. Moorehead has generally maintained Mac's patented mix of new and vintage ska-punk, but he suggests that an extra hour every week would make it much easier to incorporate all the young bands he likes. Though he understands local complaints about the dearth of quality radio, his perspective as the new kid in town makes him inclined to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.

"The main problem with radio is too much of the same thing," he says. "It's hard to say if Valley radio needs an overhaul or not, because from Ohio, I think you guys got it good. You get the overspill from L.A. Back home, Third Eye Blind is everywhere, and thank God it's playing itself out here. Punk scenes are great where radio is bad."

Larry Mac, the man that Moorehead succeeded on the ska-punk show, has carved an unmatched swath of specialty shows across the local radio dial over the last decade. Once viewed as a protege of '80s Phoenix legend Jonathan L, Mac has become the unofficial godfather of local alternative-radio shows.

He worked at the late, lamented KUKQ with Jonathan L on the show Virgin Vinyl, and was promoted to program director at the station when Jonathan left. At that point, he launched a Sunday night specialty show called Red Radio, devoted to an array of obscurities geared toward what he calls "music heads."

After KUKQ went off the air--which some locals tend to regard as the day the music died--Mac hosted specialty shows at KUPD and the Edge, before returning to KUPD a few months ago with Red Radio Underground, a Sunday night show that links the underground rock, industrial and ska that have long been his obsessions.

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