2018 marks the fifth anniversary of MPH.
Believe it or not, the show began January 2013 as a one hour live broadcast on Party 93.4 at the constant coaxing of my friend and host of Hard Corps 101, the quixotic Big Rob.
Rob and I go waaaaaay back both as music industry people and as friends, so, I’m comfortable in saying this most recent ride on the airwaves is mostly his fault – but I’m also eternally grateful to him for it.
Previous to creating the show, I used to spend time programming playlists for my daily commutes, business travels an the like an then posting the good ones on the blog. As noted in the music nerd flick High Fidelity, “The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” Most of those playlists I was writing down for the blog had exactly those kinds of rules. Rob got (back) on the air in 2012 bringing his “personality” to the online station Party 93.4 and and after months of his poking and prodding eventually he wore me down and I joined him bring my fanaticism of playlist creation with me.
I forget how I finally settled on the name, to be honest. I’d done shows on college and community radio in the past under a number of different names, including (long) running stints with ‘New World Revolution,’ ‘Chaos & Conformity’ and ‘(the Mouse’s) Metallurgy’ and wasn’t necessarily feeling the idea of bringing any of them back this time around. Instead, I drew inspiration, in part, from the old Hits music mag radio chart called “Metal Punk Hardcore” or, as it was affectionally referred to as: “MPH.” The chart was almost defunct by the time I was heavily involved in that aspect of the business with competition from CMJ, FMQB, Album Network, Radio & Records and others siphoning reporters, ad dollars and interest from it’s little moshable corner of industry print media, but nonetheless it was (and still is) still legendary in its own right. It was a cool name, so I cribbed a version of it.
So, with that nod to the past the show concept started to take shape using MPH as the acronym to formulate the first incarnation of Mosh Pit Hell, a name, interestingly enough that wouldn’t formally stick till later that year when the broadcast moved over the KAOS radio Austin.
Originally, I wanted to make metal smart. I was tired of hearing how metal, punk and hardcore were just angry and violent noise. How it’s fans were uneducated, anarchistic degenerates. How it was narrowly defined socially as a young, white, male expression of suburban, working-class privileged form of rebellion. How lacked musicianship and compositional relevance. How it was a popular cliche of pentagrams, military references and blood splatter, if not still stuck in some people’s minds a spandex and big hair. I was tired of this music somehow being considered the bastard child of Rock & Roll, shunned from popular culture just because it reflected the harsher aspects of the human condition rather than sugar coating itself.
I wanted a radio show that reflected me – a bit of a music nerd, a bit of a history buff, a bit of a philanthropist. Interestingly enough that concept wouldn’t formally become defined as “the” framework till almost a year later when it moved over the KAOS radio Austin as well (and the acronym taking on the ‘music, philanthropy, history’ moniker took even longer).
The early editions on Party93.4 were rough. Really rough at times with technical problems, human error (alcohol influenced or otherwise I really can’t say) and all kinds of other asides… but mostly just being really rusty DJing a live show. But, those first few months on the air taught me a lot about myself.
I became musically reinvigorated and that insatiable interest in the depth and breath of aggressive music, as well as music overall, maintained itself for the last five years.
I became creatively stimulated again. There’s a lot of art to programming and producing a show. Picking out the music and coordinating the content for the breaks. And, it’s not like I was making it easy for myself as I was developing the whole thing around occasionally abstract and content-challenging themes. Then there’s also the visual assets and more for marketing it to listeners. Doing the show inspired me to rethink all of my creative outlets at the time from writing, to the blog, to practicing drums, to photography and so on.
Those early Party93.4 shows included what would become thematic staples over the next five years including BHMPH for Black History Month, WHMPH for Women’s History Month, programs showcasing the diversity of Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, German and French aggressive music, as well as what became the foundation for recurring episodes about Space, War, and Literature, among other personal interests that manifest themselves into episodes.
When the situation at Party93.4 really no longer supported the vision I had for MPH I followed Big Rob and Hard Corps 101 over to KAOS Radio Austin. KRA caught Rob’s attention for it’s Pirate roots, it’s more anarchic aesthetic and it’s 70s inspired free form approach to programming among other things he could probably better express. For me, Rob’s recommendation and some of the existing crust punk and metal programming was enough to convince me to take MPH on the road. What I quickly learned, however, that KAOS Radio Austin was a part of history itself — a staple in the crowded Austin Music Scene winning countless awards despite it’s pirate nature and holding a special spot in the Austin Chronicle’s coverage of the scene from it’s inception in 2001 till as recent as this year when it received mention (the best music you forgot was still around, a reference to a major renovation in the station’s ongoing server and webcasting challenges). A number of KRA staff went onto become high profile DJs, musicians, writers over the years. Eventually, it became public enemy number one and had it’s modest broadcast signal shut down by the FCC in one of the most high profile pirate radio busts in history back in 2010. KRA began it’s original broadcast in the late aughts which was unique enough still at the time and turned into a full internet station upon the FCC crackdown making it one of the earlier examples of full-time, DJed webcasting at a time when lots of attempts at building online stations through automation were occurring. This rich history of being on the leading edge suited nicely for what I wanted to align MPH with.
In late 2013 MPH debuted on KAOS Radio Austin and in such the beginning of another MPH tradition occurred, naming the episode using the MPH acronym. I’d messed around with it once or twice before but it didn’t stick, much like everything else, till KAOS.
“Merry People Headbanging” I believe was the first incarnation of it, although, I think most people who were listening back then probably remember the beginning being “Making Precipitation Hurt” (about Pripyat Nuclear Winter) since it was also one of the more repeated fill-programming episodes of that era on KAOS.
That particular episode epitomized what would become the ongoing programming framework of the MPH on KAOS era: defining a show theme based on a cultural or historical event that happened on the broadcast day and exploring the relevant history or background during the second break, providing something philanthropic you could do related to the show theme in the subsequent break, and, of course, stringing together a combination of new and classic music that supported the thematic idea, as well as creating a show hash tag name around the MPH acronym.
The show eventually took up permanent residence Sunday evenings from the Isle of Misfit Toys (a joke between Big Rob and I about being the outcasts broadcasting remotely rather than from the super secret confines of the KAOS bunker. The Isle itself is reference to another love of mine, animation. In this case leveraging the holiday classic by Rankin-Bass, during which Rudolph makes friends with unwanted toys. It seemed fitting enough a parallel for a bunch of misfit DJs).
Moving into 2014 you’ll recognize recurrent show names that made their debuts, including “Moshing Platypus Heroes” celebrating Australian heritage, “More Punter Headgames” showcasing the sounds of the Superbowl cities, “Moshes Per Hour” as the annual breakdowns show, “Marking Persecution and Holocaust” the WWII Holocaust remembrance episode, “Mom Prefers it Heavy” for Mother’s Day, “Marche Pour l’Honneur” celebrating French heritage, “Moves Portable Houses” reflecting on the music and menace of Tornado Alley, “Makin Pops Happy” for Father’s Day, “Metropolitan Peoples Hell” as the Dirty Jersey show, Mosh Poindexter’s Heroes” as the nerd metal show, “Mouse Presents Heavy” for my birthday, “More Piano Happening” the Sept Piano Month showcase, “Mega Poured Helles” celebrating German heritage for Oktoberfest, “Monster Pumpkin Heaviness” for the Allhallowtide & Samhain festivities, “Movember Prostate Health” for big moustaches and men’s healthcare and “Magnify Praise Hail” for Thanksgiving.
Over time other recurring show names that consolidated previous show themes were spawned, including: “Most Personal Heaven” feat. Xtian bands for Easter, “Memorializing Patriotic Heroes” for Memorial Day, “Moons Planets Heavens” as the space show, “Metal Pays Homage” as the covers show, “My Padawan Headbangs” for my Padawan (of course), “Maple Poutine Hockey” celebrating Canadian heritage, “Mashed Parliamentary Hodgepodge” celebrating English heritage, “Matenot Pryn Hammaer” celebrating Norwegian heritage, “Massive Percussive Hammers” for the Nov Percussion month showcase, “Many People Hungover” the New Year’s Show and many other memorable moshers.
MPH recruited friends who made the airwaves even more fun on KAOS, first joined for a time by “Break Down the Walls” with Ant$ and then “The Super-MAD Mxyz” with Archetypal Eric. Unfortunately, Hard Corps 101 went on hiatus and we were never able to get some of the other talented music friends we know to join us. Nonetheless, MPH carried on week in and week out bringing music, philanthropy and history in the mosh pit hell of metal punk and hardcore.
And, the KAOS family has been awesome from day one. They each have great vision for their shows and were always equally supportive of the vision I had for mine. They’re all really solid programmers and hosts who bring a diversity of music and opinions to the airwaves unique to who they are while keeping the traditions of KAOS’s anarchistic pirate radio roots alive. It’s been a cool station to grow as a a DJ with because of this uniqueness.
Up till this point, MPH has been trending towards 50 episodes a year. Other than a short hiatus during which KAOS itself was off the air and a couple of intermittent breaks for personal reasons (marriage, birth of a padawan, etc) the show runs nearly every week.
Sadly, that’s about to change.
Despite five wonderful years of MPH I just don’t have the time to produce a weekly show.
It’s heartbreaking to lose those hours of alone time focusing on the art of programming and production. I’ll miss those moments of more regularly pretending to be hipper than I really am. I was never the cool kid, but when you’re a DJ you can pretend to be and the pretentious music fuck that I am always had an uninhibited voice on the show. It felt good, even if half the time it felt like I might be just doing it for myself.
I’ll miss falling down the rabbit hole of research trying to unearth all the important stuff related to the show theme.
I’ll miss looking up the different non-for-profits and learning about their unique missions and historical relevance.
I’ll miss both all the new music and long archived gems that are repurposed as classics on the airwaves.
Ultimately, I’ll miss combining the three concepts of music, philanthropy and history to fulfill my mission to make metal radio smart on a weekly basis.
I know that the three listeners I have will be very disappointed and the rest of everyone else probably won’t notice that I’m not posting weekly show updates, or asking for song ideas, or in general promoting the idea that I’m on the air. I mean, I’ll still be around but it’s probably way less annoying when it’s fewer than 24 times a year compared to what we’ve done for five years running.
If you’ve changed your mind and you want to tune in now watch the Facebook page for updates on live airdates and go back through what I’ve posted on the mixcloud archives and please, drop me a line and let me know you miss me. It might not get me back to 50 episodes a year, but it’ll go a long way to keeping me getting 24 or so out and staying on the air for perhaps another five years…or more.