The Pride of the South Side
May 30, 2013 9:41 PM   Subscribe

The WHPK Record Library. Scans of notable (or notably commented-on) records from WHPK's rock collection.
posted by kenko (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I read that has WKRP. I can't be alone.

“Sounds like a rabid squirrel in your pants: VERY GOOD”

Ah, community radio. Never change.
posted by Mezentian at 10:08 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, you must click on the Headless Chickens.
posted by Mezentian at 10:09 PM on May 30, 2013

mixed feelings: nothing feels as bad as having an absolute favorite album and wanting to play your favorite song from it on your friend's show on WHPK when you visit her at the station and excitedly finding it in their massive record library tucked into the corner of the reynold's club before realizing that generations of overly intellectual punks at the UofC before you have expressed their collective disdain for this album in their biting critiques written on the sleeve and sadly returning the album to the shelf in disappointment and shame...

that being said WHPK is the best radio station ever and this is the coolest.
posted by precession at 10:26 PM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

This makes me insanely jealous because I've been trying to do this at my college radio station but have been told no. Alas...

This is really awesome.
posted by kendrak at 11:23 PM on May 30, 2013

Their review of 'My War' makes me angry.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:43 PM on May 30, 2013

The rabid squirrel quote is preceded by handwriting I recognize -- a note from then-station manager Rick Wocjik, who has been running the amazing Dusty Groove America since 1996. Truly a labor of love, part of Dusty Groove's initial stock was gathered on an epic road trip across the American South, buying old soul and funk records from the back rooms of little-town general stores and even restaurants, if I remember the story correctly. From personal experience I encourage you not to make friends with vinyl aficionados if they are ever going to ask you to help them move. Those suckers are heavy.

I have no idea what WHPK looks like today, but back in the day the half-broken studio was embedded in a dark attic-like room filled with tall metal bookcases containing thousands of LPs, all filed alphabetically by artist. By the late 80's, the collection had outgrown the space and as more records were crammed in the bookcases, the covers became increasingly tattered and interchangeably worn white. Since record covers aren't known for their lexical legibility in the first place, the strip of masking tape on top gave you the band name under which you were supposed to file the record after you were done with it. Occasionally for new indie bands the sleeves were so cryptic we couldn't distinguish the name of the band from the name of the album and I suspect some of those were misfiled for years until the Internet could settle factual matters like that.

DJs would invariably not refile all their records after their shows, so the narrow aisles were always filled with stacks of records leaning up against the shelves. That made the mad 10 minutes you had to pull records before your show was going to start that much more of an adventure, because invariably the Big Black album you were going to play during your Steve Albini set was sitting in a pile somewhere.

During your show you'd race furiously into the library to find that one track that shared a producer with the track that was playing on the air now but just about to end and would make a great segue, and then next to it you'd see something you'd never heard of but it had great comments written on it and you'd pull it too, and sometimes it was Arvo Pärt and sometimes it was the Durutti Column. It was a great record library and was responsible for my entire musical education, since my parents had about 3 records stored in the cabinet in our Hi-Fi: one polka band, one gospel choir, and one soundtrack to the Jim and Tammy Show, a Christian children's show starring Jim and Tammy Bakker before their rise and fall with the PTL Club alongside their puppet friends.

The white stickers were put on there for DJs to share their comments on the music. Most of the time they were about the quality and subtlety you'd expect from a 19-year-old college radio DJ. However, the cognoscenti running the station often used them to try to educate the younger DJs about music like Frank Zappa and John Cage and Can, because otherwise they'd just play Black Flag again. Each week they'd put out some featured albums that they wanted us to try, although there were no required playlists -- we weren't some corporate sellouts like those Northwestern poseurs!

One week, an Emmylou Harris album turned up in the recommend albums with a glowing review of her musical genius. A few weeks later the music director was laughing in the office about what a great joke he'd pulled on all the DJs by recommending an obviously shitty record and look they'd all played it and given it great reviews like sheep. Twenty-five years later I still remember this and get angry because, fuck, it was Emmylou Harris and she is a goddamn genius and while music like Squirrel Bait or Soul Asylum didn't stay with me over the years, anybody that can listen to something like the harmonies in Sweet Old World and not choke up is somebody I don't want to be friends with.
posted by troyer at 12:11 AM on May 31, 2013 [9 favorites]

Each week they'd put out some featured albums that they wanted us to try, although there were no required playlists -- we weren't some corporate sellouts like those Northwestern poseurs!

This is what bugs me about one of my local community radio stations. They pretend to be independent, but they have very strict playlists.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:24 AM on May 31, 2013

I am proud to say that I guest hosted with a friend on his show at WHPK in the 90s one late night and got to spin Nikolai Volkoff's "Cara Mia" from WWF's The Wrestling Album. Unfortunately I don't see that sleeve in the link.
posted by monkeymadness at 4:30 AM on May 31, 2013

ah my boyfriend had a jazz show so I spent many evenings sitting with him in that old attic... a few lps complete with comments somehow found their way into my hands, honestly I don't know how, and I still have them. I should send them back I guess, right?
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:52 AM on May 31, 2013

Each week they'd put out some featured albums that they wanted us to try, although there were no required playlists -- we weren't some corporate sellouts like those Northwestern poseurs!

At least when I was there, it was the "new bin", just full of recently-reviewed records, but again, no requirements to play from the new bin. Unlike certain other college radio stations I could name, which would also never dream of allowing contentious debate in reviews, or even negative reviews! Big culture shock for yours truly!
posted by kenko at 7:18 AM on May 31, 2013

It would be great if the northside's freeform gem WZRD could do something similar before their collection of classic punk, new wave, no wave, noise, and industrial lps gets completely ransacked by distesoectful local bands.

Actually maybe a photo project of everything that's missing from their yellowing paper card catalog would be cooler.
posted by elr at 8:13 AM on May 31, 2013

overly intellectual punks at the UofC

I'll take that as a compliment.

This brings back memories indeed. Interested to see that they have a live stream. IIRC a couple of friends had their own shows when I was there. I also seem to recall that they had lots of good late-night blues and jazz shows by people not otherwise affiliated with the university. Good stuff. I think the "attic" rings a bell too -- I might have been considering volunteering at some point.
posted by seemoreglass at 10:34 AM on May 31, 2013

Growing up in the 60's in Chicago, my experience was limited to Top 40 - WLS and WCFL. Then, about 1967 or so, a friend told me to tune in to an FM station in the evening. That was Scorpio on WOPA, underground radio. What a revelation, but he was only on evenings. So I started looking around the FM dial and found WHPK, great music all day. My first experience with community radio. Of course it would be six more years before I had an FM radio in my car, but at least I got to listen at home.
posted by gteffertz at 4:12 PM on May 31, 2013

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