"We're talking about bands that are on Top 10 charts that are critically beloved that can't get on commercial radio. For the Spoons and the Arcade Fires of the world, LPFM is going to serve as a bridge that gets them on local radio," Michael Brac, founder of indie label Misra Records, was quoted as saying.


What sort of music KWSS should play is a thorny issue at the station. Since they're not paid, it's hard to tell the DJs what to play. On the other hand, whenever a DJ spins something that alienates the station's intended audience, tension can result between hosts.

As the morning guy, Beef Vegan is one of the station's "stars," and his opinion carries weight, which is why it was a big deal when things boiled over for him in January. Beef went on an on-air rant about how much some of the station's music sucked, his tantrum worded as an ironic statement about why things couldn't be changed at KWSS.

"It's not like I can tell you to set up a Facebook page to take the suck out of KWSS," he said at one point.

No one set up a Facebook page bashing the station, but the mutinous remarks didn't go unnoticed, or unpunished. The Morning Infidelity was taken off the air for a day. Beef and his crew did the show via his website for an online audience of dozens while the station aired what he describes as "the shittiest fucking music you can imagine" in his slot.

It wasn't the first time Frank Magarelli benched Beef for his antics, but the wayward host isn't not apologetic about the incident: "It was a prank directed at [Magarelli]. I just get a kick out of bustin' his balls from time to time. "

It's the exact sort of stunt you'd expect from Beef, a doughy, frat-boy type in the mold of John Belushi's character in Animal House who missed his calling by never formally attending college.

He did attend classes at Northern Arizona University, though. After doing time in Tent City at age 18 (he was busted with enough pot to be charged with "intent to distribute"), he moved to Flagstaff to "stay out of trouble." Rather than enroll at NAU, he filled a backpack with notebooks and sneaked into lectures. During that time, Beef made a living delivering food; when he got old enough to enlist in the bar scene full-time, he got a job emceeing wet T-shirt contests.

Along the way, he formed a band called Gravy Blue, doing drowsy, sing-talk verses over blues riffs. The group recoded an album, but Beef says he abandoned the project when former House of Pain rapper Everlast had a string of minor hits doing something similar. Beef didn't want to be called a knock-off.

He drifted back to the Valley and worked at bars here. He was having fun until he knocked up a woman, then he reluctantly gave up the life of a "professional alcoholic" to work in his family's party-planning business. (Beef never married, but he has joint custody of his little daughter, who sometimes wanders around the studio eating Cheerios.) When a friend scored the early-morning radio gig at KWSS, he christened himself "Beef Vegan" and got the sidekick role. His buddy lost interest after a few months, but rather than give up, Beef built the studio in his house and talked the station owner into giving him twice the airtime he and his pal had enjoyed.

Beef isn't the only KWSS host who fell into his gig at the station. Take Westley Allen, who hosts KWSS' two-hour weekly punk show, Erratic Radio, starting at 8 on Tuesday nights. Like Beef, Allen works from his home studio. A 33-year-old with pork-chop sideburns, Allen also mans the tap handles at Tempe dive bar Time Out Lounge and plays in punk band The Plainfield Butchers. His two-hour show started after he took a community college class with one of the station's engineers and mostly is dedicated to obscure '80s punk acts and likeminded new bands such as Black Lips.

"I never really wanted to host a show, I just wanted to play the music I like," he says. "[The radio gig] opens the doors for me a little more with everything else I do."

Allen's show also features local bands playing live. One recent Tuesday, he hosted local folk-punk duo Andrew Jackson Jihad and a dozen other random people in the living room of his Tempe flophouse, which makes Beef Vegan's decrepit home studio look like a suite at The Phoenician.

Despite the surroundings, Allen proved a pro with interviews he slipped between Black Flag and Hüsker Dü cuts. However, his sidekick, Tyronn Walker, a middle-aged Flava Flav-wanna-be with a 40-ouncer in his hand and no apparent interest in punk music, added the signature touch of KWSS amateurism by loudly and drunkenly interrupting the AJJ interview repeatedly.

Here's something telling: Even an easy-going, free-spirited punk rocker like Allen — who keeps an obnoxious clown of a co-host around, though the guy clearly irritates him — agrees with Beef's contention that the station's play list is too broad for its own good.

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30 comments
Guest
Guest

No mention of KUKQ at all?

justareader
justareader

I'm a fan of the station, but this article is garbage. Maybe the author should have "sneaked' into a few classes at NAU. Please re-submit to an editor. Yikes, New Times.

S!ick
S!ick

This sounds like a station I should be working, and want to be, on...do they have any openings?

Edmonds and FosterTechtalkRadioThe Tech Buzz

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guest
guest

Most people in radio do it because they don't know what else to do? Try running your own business behind it, getting and keeping long term sponsors, writing and fulfilling contracts. I don't sit in my skivvies and do my show on the fly. And YES I'm on 106.7, too. Oh, Gassman's not a burnout - but I do think that Beef needs mo meat in his dog!

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Tanktruthaboutlies
Tanktruthaboutlies

Thats awesome!!! Did an interview as Truth About Lies a few years ago when they were way out east!! Basically a few miles away from Florence. Good to see the word is getting out.. Get em Beef!!!

Tank

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TheFabulousOne
TheFabulousOne

As a former DJ of KWSS, I am very happy to see the exposure. Also, the author of this article is in NO way a part of the station, just a fan. :}

Brad Bielesch
Brad Bielesch

Beef, Shorty, Big Buddha, and Tom are fucking solid. They're uplifting a music scene that is stricken with disequilibrium, it's so goddamn unbalanced. They deserve nothing but praise. Thanks, dudes.

John McNary
John McNary

I kept reading this waaste of electrons waiting for the payoff. There it is at the bottom. The writer is part of the KWSS team.

This remonds me of the old old joke: why does a fog lick it's balls? Because it can. Same thing.

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Anamieke
Anamieke

I agree there are some negative-flavored tones in this feature, but nonetheless this kind of exposure will hopefully reach the rest of the people in Phoenix who actually care about innovative yet listenable music. Wherever you are, we need you to band together and help get this scene off the ground!!! There are too many tourists who want cheesy covers and too many counterculture-extremists who want experimental noise and no one in between. What about those of us who create and promote intellectually stimulating yet pleasantly catchy material that isn't a rehash of the 90's (Gadger)? Where is our audience? Thank you KWSS for being a visionary and beacon of truth in a shit-storm of hypocrisy and materialism. Please don't give up.

azmomma e
azmomma e

i am a regular listener to KWSS in the morning. i live upstate so have to listen on my computer. so by 6:35 every morning the first thing i do after i get up is turn on TMI. they are funny, super clever and real. the music is pretty darn good too, and it's a great start to my day. wowser! that was so corn-bread pc...how 'bout this then: TMI is dope. they really rock it. right on guys (and gal)!

corky
corky

1994 called, they want Tom Green back.

stpatrick
stpatrick

KWSS is awesome. Glad they're doing what they're doing, and I hope they gain more traction. Rock local!

Michelle
Michelle

The article could have mentioned that Frank spends 10 hours a day 7 days a week keeping the station going, instead it paints him in a negative light when he first played local and indi music 6 years ago.

dr dread
dr dread

TMI rules! and Cizmar is sexy

TheFriend
TheFriend

Hey his "friend" did radio with KWSS for a few years not months and went to X103.9, not lost interest, droppped the show on his lap and walked away. He also helped him build the studio, get ready to take over, and regularly provides input and help when needed.

James
James

kwss rocks. beef for president.

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

I'm not part of any KWSS "team," John... I just call in and give them a couple new tracks to play on Thursdays.

What's a fog?

AlphaK
AlphaK

2003 called, it wants it's joke back.

azmomma e
azmomma e

i didn't get that vibe about frank from the article at all. hmmmm...

 
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