Friggin’ Here Comes to the Internet Archive

WITR 897 Logo

I’m delighted to announce the completion of an historic archival project at Innerspace Labs! 

When I was a young man growing up in Rochester, NY, I routinely spent my weekends tuning in to the city’s comedy/novelty radio programme titled, Friggin’ Here. The show was broadcast on The Rochester Institute of Technology’s radio station, WITR 89.7FM in the 1990s. Friggin’ Here filled the comedy void of not having The Dr Demento Show in Rochester and featured many local and regional comedy artists who went on to national acclaim on Dr Demento’s show. And during the time these episodes were airing, co-host Devo Spice made it to #1 on The Dr Demento Show with his hit, “South Park Junkie,” recorded with his band, Sudden Death, and landed Dr. Demento’s Funny #1 of the Year three times in the years that followed. This was definitely a piece of history that deserved to be archived.

I taped 27 of the shows in my basement studio in the mid-90s, and recently considered the possibility of digitizing and making those recordings available online for fans around the world to revisit and enjoy. Tragically, despite my painstaking efforts at organization, I was unable to locate those old cassettes. Undeterred, I reached out to the members of an online community celebrating comedy music and inquired as to whether or not anyone else had recordings of the local programme from my youth.

As fate would have it, Devo Spice and a few of the show’s guest artists were members of that community, and the administrators tagged them in response. Astonishingly, I received a reply that Devo Spice had personally taped nearly all of their shows during his participation with the programme. Not only that, but he had wisely positioned the deck in the station’s studio with the signal going to the tape deck before it went out over the air, so the sound is as good as it can be! Best of all, just two years ago he had sent those very tapes to a friend named Dr Don who performed the laborious task of digitizing over 97 hours worth of analog audio content. Unfortunately however, the co-host had stored the resulting digital audio on a since-failed PC, and retrieving them was an undertaking.

There were a few weeks of baited breath, but at last he responded confirming that the tracks were safely recovered and he transferred the files to me. Examining the library, I found his tapes were vastly superior to my own home-taped cassettes. I ran the files through a spectral waveform analyzer and verified that they had been ripped using the Hydrogenaudio “Insane” preset of -b 320 – a constant bitrate of 320kbps, which is the highest possible audio compression standard for MP3 and is demonstrably indistinguishable from lossless audio. Evidently, Dr Don took every measure to ensure the very best quality for his digitization process. There is audible aging to the cassettes, themselves but every effort has been made to preserve them as best as possible. And in addition to the superior pre-broadcast sound, where I had omitted selections, (whether they be duplicate songs or just tracks I didn’t particularly fancy), the co-host’s archive was nearly complete with all shows unabridged from his years with the programme.

I immediately went to work analyzing the audio data, tagging, and uniformly-formatting the library. Once they were prepped for a satisfactorily archival standard, I embarked on the task of uploading each broadcast to The Internet Archive and attaching each programme’s track list and relevant metadata. After the entire library was uploaded, I drafted a summary and submitted a request to The Internet Archive to format the set as an official Collection. With that request now fulfilled, the archive is readily-accessible for listeners around the world to enjoy. It’s a small but important way for me to give back to the artists who filled my teenage years with laughter.

For those curious about the origin of the show’s title, Devo Spice provided the details on his official website’s biography at Devospice.com:

In 1997 Tom’s friend from college Tim Winkler (known affectionately as TWINK) managed to get a slot on RIT’s radio station WITR and devoted his entire show to comedy music. He had a two-hour slot, originally on late Thursday/early Friday from 1-3am, that he kept getting erased from. Finally one day he wrote “TWINK! FRIGGIN’ HERE!” on the white board, and that’s how the show got its name. At some point he invited Devo to co-host the show with him, mostly because he wanted access to Devo’s music collection. While Tom was never officially a member of the radio station (he had tried freshman year and had gotten the runaround) he co-hosted this show with TWINK until he left Rochester in late 1999. 

Check out the completed archive collection here!

https://archive.org/details/friggin-here?tab=about

Pre-Birthday Crate Digging

I’ve been cooling my record-buying jets a bit as my birthday approaches, but I finally made it back out to the local Antique Mall and community garage sale and brought home some fun finds.

The Dutch progressive rock band, Focus is best known for their song “Hocus Pocus,” replete with yodeling, whistling, scatting, and more.  The best version of the song was the Midnight Special performance from ’73.   The original album version is noticeably slower and doesn’t pack the punch of the live recording.  Thankfully, I found a copy of Focus – Live at the Rainbow (also from ’73) which culminates with a performance of “Hocus Pocus” that is almost on par with this Midnight Special clip.

Focus - Live at the Rainbow
For those who haven’t seen it, check it out below.

Next I found a vintage moog record I’d seen online a dozen times over the years but had never came across it in person.  Complete with kitschy cover art, here’s Hugo Montenegro’s Moog Power.

Kneel before Zod!

There are only a few novelty moog records missing from my collection (at least that I’d like to acquire), such as Gershon Kingsley’s Music to Moog By.

Gershon Kingsly - Music to Moog By
Nothing gets young lovers in the mood like moog music and nipple flowers.

At the same table of records, I found three Tom Lehrer albums, each in excellent shape.  For those not familiar with Tom, he’s a staple of the Doctor Demento show.  Lehrer was an instructor from MIT and Harvard University and wrote popular songs like, “the Elements,” “New Math,” and his most famous, “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.”

I had previously purchased three of his albums and had the good Doctor autograph the 10″ version of his debut record from 1953 (pictured below.)

Tom Lehrer - Songs By Tom Lehrer (1953 10in autographed)

Tom Lehrer - An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer

And from the sale I brought home the following additional Lehrer records…

Tom Lehrer - Songs by Tom Lehrer (1953 12in)

Tom Lehrer - More of Tom Lehrer (1959)

Tom Lehrer - Songs by Tom Lehrer (1952-53)

Here’s Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements.”  (Also on Youtube is a most impressive video of this same song sung by a four year old entirely from memory!)

More still from the same table, I found Leon Redbone’s Champagne Charlie.  Now I have his first three LPs on vinyl (which are by far his best.)  Leon has been described as a “walking 78 record.”  His performances transport the listener to the Mississippi Delta sometime around 1925.  I will never get tired of his sound.  Hell, I even love the Mr. Belvedere theme.

Leon Redbone - Champagne Charlie
Below you’ll find Leon performing one of my favorite tracks, “Ditty Wah Diddy.”  (Advance the video to 2:00 for the song.)

I also found a James Brown LP that I didn’t already own.  It’s the soundtrack to the 70s blaxploitation film, Black Caesar.   Lyn Collins supplied vocals on “Mama Feelgood” and Fred Wesley and the JBs lent their horny horns throughout the album.

James Brown - Black Caesar

Before leaving the Antique Mall I snatched up one more disc – the motion picture soundtrack to Little Shop of Horrors.

Little Shop of Horrors - Motion Picture Soundtrack

The disc comes in a gatefold sleeve with photos from the film.  Fans have criticized this album for being incomplete, and so I made sure to get the expanded 46 track bootleg version as well.  The 80s movie soundtrack section of my collection is growing and this was a fun surprise to find in town.  I’ve also seen a rare soundtrack for They Live posted to etsy.com; something I might pursue in the future.

That’s it for now.  The next time you hear from me I’ll be thirty years old.  Still not sure how I feel about that…