Wednesday, November 15, 2006

WCVT 89.7FM Towson - Industrial Weirdness

WCVT Original Tape 1:

WCVT Original Tape 2[a]:

WCVT Original Tape 2[b]:

When I was in 8th Grade, I went over to a neighbor’s house and asked if I could have this broken solid-state AM/FM receiver that was sitting in the garage. I took it home, took it apart, cleaned up all the connections and re-sautered ones that were loose. I put it back together, plugged it in and was ecstatic to see the soft amber backlit glow of the FM dial. After searching the FM range slowly for about 2 weeks, looking for signs of life in between the main stations - I finally came across something faint that really sounded strange. It was *just barely* picking up the signal from 89.7FM, Towson MD’s extremely indie college radio station. The call letters were WCVT - and I happened to stumble upon it late one friday night, during the weekly experimental/industrial show. I had to get better reception to figure out what the f*ck they were playing!

My brother had an old GE boombox that he gave me - looked like a piece of shit, but it worked. He said it picked up WHFS really well, so I gave it a shot. Low and behold, this thing had a ’sensitivity boost’ switch that would give a significant boost to the FM reception. I was thrilled to see that this GE boombox picked up the WCVT reception almost perfectly, if the antenna was in a very specific position. Come that next friday night, I tuned in at midnight and listened to this show in its entirety. I was in 8th Grade, and this random find had literally changed my life forever. I had already gotten into heavy metal and punk via my older brother and some local older neighborhood kids, so Industrial/experimental music logically was the next step in my progression. I was able to record ONE tape’s worth of magic from one particular week’s show; two weeks later I tuned in, and there was just white noise instead of music. I was completely crushed - but a week later the reality sank in. I desperately tried to tune in, only to become horrified at the sound of smooth jazz and adult contemporary where WCVT once was. Seemingly overnight, funding for WCVT was cut - forcing them to kill their transmitter, and also leaving opportunity for this horrible adult contemporary station to snatch up the bandwidth like an evil hermit crab.

Upon further research, I realized that their transmitter operated at a very low wattage - something like 5 watts. People in Baltimore had trouble tuning in to WCVT, and Towson is less than an hour away from Baltimore. Yet somehow my GE boombox picked it up clearly, and I live almost 2 hours distance from Towson. To this day, I still see this chance encounter as some weird act of divine intervention so that I could be exposed to all this insane underground music.

Just ripped the original WCVT tape yesterday, and it's got a little radio noise and skips around a little, but who cares. I dare you to find me another WCVT Towson recording anywhere online. They don't exist! The mp3's of my tape include music from Godflesh, Clock DVA, Helios Creed, The Wolfgang Press, Throbbing Gristle, 2nd Communication (japan), The Church, Cabaret Voltaire, Bauhaus, The Cramps, A.R. Kane, Circle Jerks, D.O.A., Broken Toys and more. Plus a priceless PSA warning against the dangers of STDs.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006




This might as well be my first post. Finally found this raggedy old tape I had recorded some DJs from Baltimore V103 on back in the early 90s. My steez back in the day was to use shitty tapes I never listened to as blank tapes, and just record over the content. Sometimes they'd turn out sounding pretty good. Only problem is that I hardly ever labeled them. This tape in particular was some cheezy yellow compilation called Metal Killers (heavy metal comp from 1984) - I put masking tape over the cassette print and labeled the new joint "Dope Beetz". Eventually that masking tape fell off, so it was difficult for me to locate w/out the label. Just found it going through some old boxes, so I had to rip it before it disappeared again.

FYI - V103 was Baltimore's hip-hop/house/club station back in the day. Here's something about V103 I got from Baltimore Club Tracks history page (

Some say Baltimore Breaks grew out of Miami Bass, largely due to Frank Ski working with Luke Skyywalker Records in the early 1990s, remixing songs such as Disco Rick's Wiggle Wiggle in 1992. Frank's production of the 1991 track Doo Doo Brown by 2 Hype Brothers and a Dog samples heavily from the 1989 "Doo Doo Brown edit" of C'mon Babe by the X-rated Miami Bass group known as 2 Live Crew. This most likely explains the genre's nickname of "Dew Doo Beat". Despite its roots nearer to Miami Bass, the sound of the music itself more closely resembles Ghetto House. Frank Ski helped to pioneer the sound with his nightly radio show on now defunct V103, playing many Breakbeat Hardcore songs such as Acid Party, Too much Energy and others, alongside his newly released Doo Doo Brown track. The influence of the UK Breakbeat Hardcore was critical in the development of the genre. Soon after the release of Doo Doo Brown, Frank Ski teamed with Miss Tony and Scotty B on the release of "What's up What's up" and "Pull Ya Guns Out", two of the earliest examples to feature the signature Baltimore Club sound.

Being from VA, it was hard to pick up the signal but I nerded out hard and made it work. Unfortunately, this was the one magic tape that has survived throughout the years. Quality is so/so but that doesn't matter to me. Every moment of this tape is special to me.