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Article: Punk Radio.
Writer: Brinepacer
Date Posted: 26/12/00

The college I go to (Tralee IT, in south west Ireland) has a radio station running out of the canteen. I signed up for the radio station on the clubs and societies open day in September. I never heard back. Why? Because i put punk/ska on the form. The station has a (secret) policy of only playing dance music, some ten DJs and nobody plays anything with a guitar in it. Now, i can understand that a large percentage of the student body only want to hear this, but the fact is that there is still a reasonably sized audience who would like something different.

A friend of mine went to the student office (where DJs are assigned their hours) and got himself 1 hour a week (out of roughly 40 which, as i said, are distributed amongst 10 odd DJs). I decided to do the same, but before i got the chance, he played his first set. At the time, the canteen had about 50-100 people in it (the student body is approx 2000), all sitting around talking. I was sitting with a group from my computer course, all pretty ok people, not nerds by any means, all your typical student. Brendan (our DJ for the hour) played a genuinely good set of trip hop, old James Brown, funky house and other good funky, but not otherwise play listed music. But all at the table were disgusted. To say people were not impressed would be an understatement. People were just sitting there, talking shit about both Brendan (who does the same computer course) and the music he was playing. Not bad shit, just the usual redneck shit about "...trying to be some decent fucking music...what the fuck is that anyway" and so on.

Later that day me and Michael (my flatmate and very good friend for years) had a big old chat about whether or not i should go forward for the radio. If people can't handle something as close to what they already listen to as funky house, how are they going to react to punk. I know i should say, "Fuck 'em and play it anyway", but what's the point in making people uncomfortable for an hour? What does it achieve? I know you could say, "well maybe they'll hear it and like it", but who hasn't heard punk these days? Green Day and the Offspring, you can talk shit about them signing on, but i know many people who would still be listening to Steps if it wasn't for them. Plus, I've been in Tralee for four months now and the closest I've seen to a punk is a guy with blue hair and one kid in Nirvana t-shirt.

I left the subject go, not out of a conscious decision to let things lie, but due to a horrible habit of procrastination to the extreme (I've been planning this Zine for almost a year). Recently, i made friends with a guy in my class. He likes punk. Or to put it another way, he likes Green Day and the Offspring. I mention NOFX. Never heard of them. Lagwagon, Bad Religion, Bouncing Souls. No response. All the guy has had exposure to is the music played Irish radio. Aah, there we go, the Radio. Perhaps if daytime radio played a little AFI, his taste in music would be a little wider. If he heard Dropkick Murphys the odd time, he might have new reference point. And if he heard Propagandhi... Needless to mention, i now have no qualms about cranking Exploited to the student body on any given day.

But this all brings me to my main point. If Green Day hadn't hit MTV and such with 'Basket Case', this guy would never know the difference. Bands like Green Day (and to a lesser point the Offspring, they haven't had a hit with a typical Offspring song yet) are opening doors for punk bands, but more importantly, they're exposing people to new music who would have had absolutely no chance of ever hearing anything not in the top 30. Imagine the first punk song you heard. Now imagine if you had taken a chance on a different CD, if you had bought a different magazine, if you were listening to a different radio station? What would your life be like now? Me personally, i wouldn't be sitting here at three o clock Christmas night asking you these questions. But i probably wouldn't be sitting at this computer either. And i wouldn't be in college in Tralee. And i wouldn't have the same friends, or experiences or memories.

People claim these bands sold out. Well i say bollocks. Selling out (to bastardise a phrase) is in the eyes of the be-buyer. Or something. Basically, Chumbawumba and Sugar Ray sold out, Green Day and Rage Against The Machine did not. Why? Because Chumbawumba were a fiercely anti-establishment, anti corporate, anti capitalist little bunch who lost their record deal, and then signed on with a major. Sell out. Sugar Ray signed with a major from day one, but started playing hits so they could get famous. Sell out. Green Day signed to a major to reach more people and three albums later chilled out, but are still punk. No sell out. Rage Against The Machine are anti corporate, but signed to a major, because they have a message that would be buried on an independent, and have never backed down. No sell out.

I remember reading on a fan site that NOFX had sold out because their video was played on MTV South America. So what, more South Americans hear something new. Too many kids are saying calling people sell outs, or calling something corporate, or saying something is/isn't punk without ever asking why? I saw the same aforementioned fan site call Vans a corporate entity, and thus bad. Sure, Vans has lots of money, turns a big profit and no doubt cares a hell of a lot about money over other things. But look at all the good things they do. You think you would have had the warped tour with out them? Kevin Lyman (warped founder) said himself that the tour is too much of a financial undertaking to go alone. Suicide Machines wrote a song about them. I remember even hearing them mentioned on an old Minor Threat live video. But this kid just sees them as making money and thus existing as a corporate and thus evil entity.

At the end of the day, there are good point to all this and bad points. New people coming into the scene who either don't give a fuck or just don't understand is always going to happen, so i don't blame the bands that facilitate it. I think i'm going to do the radio show. I'm going to start slowly and try and find a way to show people there's something else out there, without scaring them. You never know, maybe next year some punk kid will move to Tralee, like i did, and maybe there'll be a few, not lots but five or six, new punk kids. And how could that be a bad thing.