Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: Stereo Steve
Stereo Steve is one of my favorite DJs on one of my favorite radio stations -- the community run and supported, always eclectic KUSF. Of course that local cornerstone has a number of great hosts on the air, but Steve's show is especially cool because a) it's on Fridays, a reminder that the weekend is mere hours away and b) if you dig the heavy, the noisy, the punk, the psych, the out jazz, and everything in between, he'll probably spin it at some point on his show.
Today is, of course, Friday, which means starting at noon you can tune into Steve's show and hear his selection for yourself (it's on the air at 90.3 FM or streaming online here). On a break from the microphone, though, Steve gave us the lowdown on spinning records with Thurston Moore and keeping the FCC happy. -- Jennifer Maerz
Name: Stereo Steve
When/where we can hear you DJ: You can hear the Stereo Steve Show on 90.3 KUSF on Fridays from Noon to 3pm with the Guest DJ Hour immediately following from 3 to 4pm.
Styles of music you play on your show: Like most KUSF DJs, I play a pretty eclectic mix. I'll play current station favorites in the indie arena, including some local bands and noise artists, along with old jazz, funk, 60's psychedelic, and random oddball items from my personal vinyl stash. Depending on what mood I'm in you could hear some metal, classic rock, foreign psychedelia, or old songs from the 20's and 30's - sometimes all in the same set.
When and how did you first get into the radio business?
I'm not in the radio "business" per se, since KUSF's a community station and volunteers make up the backbone of our staff, but my regular weekly show there began around 1996 if that's your question.
What sort of dues do KUSF DJs have to pay to get the sweet time slots? The process involves months of volunteer work for the station and a required amount of 3a.m. airshifts for newbies. Those are the dues all new music volunteers must pay. The "sweet" time slots come to those with talent who are still dedicated after going through all that.
You've had a ton of guest hosts during your show. What was the most memorable experience there? You're talking about the Guest DJ hours? Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth in '06 was great. He picked mostly old punk records from our library and talked about what it's like to wait for the bus at 2a.m. after a show (something we all can relate to). Matt Shoemaker walked around the island of Bali with a recording device and brought an hour's worth of that to play on the air. The occasional live performances we've had on the guest DJ hour have run the gamut from experimental electronic artists to live bluegrass bands, and most of the time I don't know what's going to happen until the people show up, so it's always spontaneous.
Ever gotten in trouble for putting something on the air (if so, spill the beans)?
Disco Duck. heheh.. Just kidding. Seriously though, the main thing is avoiding language issues like f-bombs so as not to feel the wrath of the FCC or the Catholics.
List three things you've learned about the music industry from working in radio:
I've mainly learned that one has to maintain a suspension of disbelief to see through the aura of trendmongering and trying too hard that permeates a lot of the CDs we are sent in the mail every week. In the end, though it doesn't matter if it's on a big label or if it's someone's homemade CDr, it's all about whether it sounds good to my ears - thus I try not to think about "the music industry" too much while I'm digging for sounds. It gets in the way.
Name of a track you can’t get out of your head:
Right now this minute it's "Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles" by Captain Beefheart. "Oceans Of Sound" by White Hills is another one that gets stuck in my head a lot, as well as "My Neighbor Satan" by Boris.
Favorite DJ experience:
The best is when I'm cueing up a record and I'm thinking to myself "Everyone's gonna HATE this, but screw it - I'm playing it anyway!" and then I get a calls from listeners saying, "This is GREAT!"
The worst is when someone requests something I can't play because I don't have it and they keep asking me over and over because they don't believe me.
Most treasured vinyl score:
Either "SOUNDSVILLE" on Design Records, which was one of Lou Reed's pre-Velvet Underground pickwick records, or the original octagon-shaped vinyl ANDROMEDA STRAIN soundtrack by Gil Melle. also "SAN FRANCISCO STREET MUSICIANS AND THEIR MUSIC" put out by the ACLU in 1972 to raise awareness of street musicians' rights.
Other music related projects you're involved with:
I can occasionally be seen playing guitar alone or with others around the city. I also released some experimental recordings on a 4 track a few years back as WINDOWPAIN INDUSTRIES. You can hear some of that stuff here: www.myspace.com/windowpainindustries
You think you've heard everything, but there's always more...
Question we didn’t ask you but you often ask yourself:
When the radio signals eventually go off into space, are there listeners on other planets?
Next time we can hear you:
This Friday from noon to three.