A story like Pratt's inspires hope in the hard-working screw-ups helming KWSS' microphones.

Beef has a theory: KUPD's rise coincided with a sea change in public taste as hard rock became a dominant form of popular music in the early '80s. Then, The Edge started as a small independent station and rode to prominence on grunge and alt-rock in the '90s. Now that indie rockers Arcade Fire have won a Grammy and topped the Billboard charts, perhaps another opening is at hand.

Beef wants to follow the same path that Pratt followed 30 years ago: Use hot new music and irreverent banter to entertain cubicle-monkeys commuting to work.

Brad "Beef Vegan" Pfirrman, host of KWSS' The Morning Infidelity
Brad "Beef Vegan" Pfirrman, host of KWSS' The Morning Infidelity
Local band Kinch and former MTV personality Tom Green dropped by The Morning Infidelity on the same day in January.
Local band Kinch and former MTV personality Tom Green dropped by The Morning Infidelity on the same day in January.

"So the timing's right to build another station," Beef proffers, hopeful that KWSS will be that station. "But can it ever be as big as stations were 10 or 15 years ago [when] the commercial FM side [was thriving]? I don't know."


Many people have just started their workday at 10 a.m., but a bleary-eyed Beef looks tuckered out as he starts to come down from his caffeine high at the Cheba Hut near his house.

Talking between big bites of his sub, mayonnaise dripping from the corners of his mouth, he brings up "the competition," KEXX.

In casual conversation, KWSS DJs, particularly Westley Allen and Beef, often come back to "X," and with good reason. It's KWSS' natural economic adversary, in that it has a similar shtick. KEXX, however, is a huge business owned by an out-of-state corporation not hampered by a license that allows a mere 100 watts.

Though its indie offerings are much slimmer than what Beef plays, when KEXX does something like a ticket giveaway for Arcade Fire's upcoming show at Comerica Theatre, it gets a lot more attention than KWSS does for putting the band in heavy rotation for months.

Beef hopes that mass listeners will soon develop loyalty to KWSS because it spins records they want to hear earlier and much more often even if it doesn't sling schwag.

"People want the new music — that hasn't changed. If you create the station that plays new music and stays ahead of the times, then you create your own niche," he says. "I think the timing's right. I think it will happen. Whether it will happen with this station, I don't know."

For his part, Marc Young, KEXX's program director, welcomes the "competition" from Beef & Company.

"Having KWSS in play, I think, only helps radio in the market," he says. "If people are tuning into that station, whether it's rated or not, it proves that people still do listen. Cars still are made with radios."

As things stand, X's cautious format fits pretty well with Phoenix's radio market, as assessed by Craig Allen, the ASU communications professor. If Phoenix ever develops an indie rock station, it'll probably be after most other large cities already have one. That, of course, doesn't bode well for KWSS.

"Over time, Phoenix has had the reputation for not being the most progressive, path-breaking radio market," Allen says. "Phoenix doesn't push the envelope."

That aside, the radio people are a particular breed — they're in it because they love it and because they don't know what else to do.

"Most people in radio are happy just to be behind microphones every day," Allen says. "Even if they have a small audience."

Beef's dream of getting heard by a larger audience give him grudging respect for KEXX. He's on friendly terms with a lot of people there, now that one of his buddies got a gig at the station after doing some time at KWSS.

Still, Beef won't engage in friendly communication with Gadger, the guy manning the KEXX booth, spinning Sublime and Creed opposite The Morning Infidelity.

"I have no hard feelings toward those guys, toward Gadger. I believe that I have a more entertaining show, but what he's doing is exactly what he's told to do, and he's doing a good job of it," he says. "But I won't friend him on Facebook."

In Beef's mind, even a trivial digital friendship could make him a backstabber down the line. During the few short hours between finishing up a night's work at the family business and waking up to start The Morning Infidelity, Beef dreams of doing his show in Gadger's slot at X.

"I know what I want," Beef says with a smirk, "and [if things don't take off for him financially, and otherwise, at KWSS] I want his job."

Editor's note: Martin Cizmar regularly appears on The Morning Infidelity in his capacity as New Times music editor.

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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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