In light of Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell’s tragic passing, we thought we’d fast-track posting of this interview with the band’s drummer (Matt Cameron), recorded at WPRB on March 16th of 1990. Soundgarden was slated to play live at Trenton’s City Gardens later that night (rather hilariously, sandwiched between Faith No More—who played first—and Voivod, who headlined.) Our internal research has not yet confirmed the identity of the student DJ conducting the interview, but it has been suggested that it could be Arthur Fenno or Greg Savage. And so we turn to you, the greater WPRB Hive Mind, and ask: Can YOU identify the DJ interviewing Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron in this recording? If so, please let us know in the comments!
Before WPRB’s Chester Dubov re-purposed the “Totally Wired” show name for his punk broadcasts of the early 2010s, it was a late 80s/early 90s show focused on the British indie scene. The show was hosted by a series of student DJs including Hugh Hynes and Christian Perring, and for a time, made WPRB’s name synonymous with the sounds of bands like Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Adorable, Suede, and the Stone Roses. In 1991, Christian Perring was lucky enough to interview Miki Berenyi of Lush live on the air. Click here to download the recording of that interview, or stream it using the player below.
Former WPRB DJ Douglas Quine ’73 recently submitted a small pile of early 70s WPRB aircheck cassettes for our review. We’re now in the midst of digitizing them, and the audio goodies are practically throwing themselves at us already. Witness: this great promo for the annual WPRB-sponsored Jean Shepherd gig in Princeton.
For the sake of convenience, we’re pairing it with the above image of a Shep gig poster from around the same time, which someone anonymously donated (OK, “abandoned” is actually a better word for it) during the station’s 75th Anniversary banquet last year. Stay tuned for more audio from the WPRB/Quine archives in the coming days!
With huge thanks to Listener Larry in Somerville, here’s a WPRB aircheck from 1982, featuring DJ Bill Candee spinning hits of the day by Roxy Music, The Jam, the Waitresses, Dead Kennedys, Buzzcocks, and more.
Unfortunately, due to Draconian copyright rules, we had to cut all of the music out of the recording presented here, but you still get Bill’s sparking DJ personality, as well as a barrage of great WPRB-produced spots for long-gone (but never forgotten) Princeton businesses like The Music Cellar, Titles Unlimited, and Lavake Jewelers.
Here’s a lengthy interview with Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, discussing the band’s then-new debut LP “Vivid”, just as it was on the cusp of blowing the doors off of college radio and exploding into the mainstream. WPRB’s A. Josh Henig quizzes Reid on the band‘s history, the Black Rock Coalition, their early gigs at CBGBs, comparisons to Jimi Hendrix, and upcoming shows at City Gardens and the Knitting Factory.
(With apologies to Cornell University for re-using their tape.)
Digitized by Joan Hsaio on 9/30/2016.
1- This photo collage (above) was on the door to the music office for my tenure as music director. The photo was taken of me when Dan Ruccia (outgoing music director) and I were starting to really unpack and decorate (rehanging some old posters from [WPRB’s old studios in] Holder [Hall] and hanging some new ones, along with junk CDs and other summer staff/intern coloring book doodles among other things that made it the cavern of greatness that it is today). Bloomberg Hall (then known simply as “The Ellipse”) was made into a home over the course of one semester and one summer …..Where the moose collage element came from continues to mystify me!
One of the more perplexing pieces of archival audio we’ve discovered while combing through WPRB’s deep freeze storage facility is one from February of 1992 which I’ve taken to calling The Proto Punk Production Tapes. For some reason that is long lost to the ages, DJ Arthur Fenno spent the evening of February 11th barricaded in WPRB’s production studio with the goal of merging song snippets from the MC5, Iggy & the Stooges, The X-Ray Spex, and the Avengers into…well… something.
The recording embedded below features repeated takes of the MC5‘s legendary “Kick Out the Jams” intro, and then quickly segues into the brutal riff from “TV Eye” by the Stooges. That is followed immediately by Poly Styrene’s opening screeches of “Oh Bondage, Up Yours” by her band X-Ray Spex, and then finally, the closing refrain of “The American in Me” by the Avengers.
In the days before digital audio software, editing tight transitions like these required a razor blade, splice tape, and an ungodly amount of patience. Arthur’s challenges were exacerbated by the fact that the MC5 segment is very much not-ok-for-the-radio, and since no apparent final version of the recording was contained on this reel, I can only assume that Arthur threw down his razor blade, kicked over a few chairs in the production studio, and stormed angrily into the Princeton night.
We may never know. Nevertheless, I find that the five+ minutes of WPRB’s Proto Punk Production Tapes offer unique insight into the studio challenges of 20+ years ago. It’s also a weirdly inventive listening experience that quickly divorces itself from its individual parts, and becomes something all its own.
I remember a lot of failures. Failing to cue the right song, failing to turn on the mic, failing to read the weather report. Near-failing grades, too. Every DJ has nightmares of irrevocable failures and total chaos, only to wake up and be thankful that real mistakes are quickly lost in the atmosphere.
There were failed promotion stunts, like the rain of nerf balls dropped by the Raritan Valley Flying School over the live Communiversity broadcast on Nassau Street. The lucky person who returned a certain colored ball to Axel’s booth would have won a weekend to Florida, or something like that. However, the wind carried the balls away from the center of town. I don’t know if anyone claimed the prize.
I remember the WPRB night at City Gardens in conjunction with the Mekons concert. We promoted it heavily, but the small enthusiastic crowd was mostly ‘PRB staff. And there was that paid promotional audience-involvement stunt for the First National Bank (Adam, check that.) For weeks we advertised the first annual Bank Vault Cram-In. The group that fit the most people into the vault would win a new CD player. No one (but a few enterprising ‘PRB staffers who thought we needed a new CD player, myself included) showed up. The bank manager was not very amused.
Everything seemed to break or was broken when I was a DJ. The headphones were always broken, as were the chairs; the turntables in Studio C were rarely working at the same time; cart machines and their remote control buttons were always fickle or feckless. Not to mention this production director’s love affair with the elderly Scully reel-to-reel recorder. I also remember the valiant efforts of the helpless engineers, Charlie and then James and then Steve, to reconstruct the scene of the technological crimes. All i can report to have built were some record shelves; setting off the fire alarms by burning the wood with a very dull radial saw is admitted, too. But why dwell on failures? WPRB also fostered many wonderful memories…