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

The Record Divider Project

Ever-striving to improve upon the organizational standards of The Innerspace Labs library, I finally set myself to the task of creating custom genre-labeled PVC dividers for the genre sections of my collection.

I began by assessing the key genres which would most effectively and productively be represented with tabs and compiled a list of 21 primary genres. Next, I surveyed various marketplaces for materials and determined that Rochester, NY’s classic Bags Unlimited collectors’ supply store had the best supplies available and at the lowest price compared to eBay and Amazon. (A tip – phoning in your order to BU will expedite the shipment as they do not have to transfer the materials from their web system!)

While their site is well-organized, they did not specifically provide dimension information for the tab area of their dividers nor the character width of their standard 0.5″ adhesive lettering. But with some simple importing and scaling in Gimp I was able to derive those dimensions and determine the maximum number of characters per 6″ tab, (which is approximately 12-15). I then adjusted all my genre labels, simplifying them to twelve or fewer characters.

Counting the number of each letter per sheet I dumped my list into a web-based character frequency counter and determined that I would need 9 of the shop’s sheets to complete the project. I ordered a pack of 10 to be safe. Shipping was free and they arrived in just 48 hours so I got right to work.

I had read on a scrapbooking site about the technique of using a flat acrylic ruler to aid in typesetting and in keeping the lettering centered and on a uniform baseline. Not having a typesetter’s ruler handy, and seeing that all suppliers in my area were out of stock of them, I produced one myself using a spare heavy sheet of acetate I found and  trimmed down in my workplace’s mail room, added a few 1/2″ incremental markings to aid in centering, and dove into the project.

01 Typesetting Underworld.JPG

It took just two hours from start to finish, and I photographed the results. Here are the completed set of 21 dividers just as I finished setting them.

02 All Genres Laid Out .JPG

I pre-measured my various storage systems to ensure that these standard dividers would fit and function in each space. They worked perfectly. Here they are in action. I think they add a touch of professionalism to my listening room and hope that years from now when I retire and bestow my library upon a foundation or organization of my choice that these will make the work of the recipient far easier to bear.

It was a fun accomplishment!

03 Rolling Chest Beer Sink.JPG

04 80s and 90s and Classic Rock

 

05 Comedy.JPG

06 Tom Waits

(The box sets shelf seemed sufficient on its own so I didn’t include a divider here.)

07 Box Sets Shelf

08 New Age Moog Funk & Soul

09 Jazz.JPG

10 Experimental

11 Blues Soundtracks and Instructional.JPG

12 Jim Henson

13 PFunk and Pink Floyd

The whole project was very affordable and really enhances my library’s organization. Highly recommended for anyone looking to spruce up their listening room!

Miles has arrived, and he is LIVE.

The Miles Davis official website and Facebook page have been brimming with news about the March 25th release of MILES AT THE FILLMORE Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3.  I’ve really enjoyed discovering Miles’ work for this period, and the notion of new live material certainly caught my attention.

Sadly, these recordings are set for release exclusively on CD, with no option for vinyl or digital download that I could see.  The official site does make mention that many of Davis’ recordings are currently being “remastered for iTunes…” (and I will bite my tongue here.)

Not to have my excitement shattered, I hurried over to discogs.com.  The official site stated that these recordings had for the most part only been available as bootlegs before this new release.  A few minutes of digging and I learned that a sampling of both shows were issued on an official compilation double LP on the Columbia label in 1970.  I instantly dismissed this option and pressed onward.  Surely, I could secure a copy of at least one of these legendary performances complete and in a vinyl format.

While on the hunt I found that these two performances are said to have been a pivotal moment for Davis – introducing the deadheads and other rock and roll cultures of the Fillmore scene to fusion and Davis’ own brand of new jazz.  Furthermore it is said that these performances are what secured Miles Davis’ induction as the first instrumentalist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And that’s when I found it.  Apparently, the Fillmore West performance was released in its entirety as a double LP in 1973, exclusively in Japan.  But before I scrambled for the discogs marketplace, I acted instead, on a hunch.

I phoned the Bop Shop in my old home town of Rochester, NY.  Tom at the Bop Shop has been the core of the jazz scene in the city for over 30 years.  He’s brought countless jazz acts to the city, and his shop is a must-visit for any discerning music fan.

I told him what I was looking for, and he breathed deep.  “Jeez, I’ve never come across that record,” he confessed.  But before ending the call, he asked me to hold on while he dug around in his back stock just in case.

30 seconds later, he returned to the line.  “Here it is!  Black Beauty, 1973!”

This evening it was waiting on my doorstep.  There’s nothing better than finding great music you never knew you wanted.

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And here’s a 30 minute sample from the performance.

Race For the Prize

Just as a reminder to all I am off from work Fri June 24 – Monday June 27th, the weekend of my 30th birthday.

I am still working out a way to get to Rochester as my love will sadly have to work that entire weekend but we’ll figure it out somehow.  A generous friend has already offered his guest room and a few rides around town for the weekend.  (The Baron thanks you!)

Astonishingly, I learned this morning that the Flaming Lips will be playing in Rochester that very Saturday!  Quite sadly I won’t be attending (I don’t have the thirty-odd dollars for a ticket and I have no one to join me besides.)  I will be on the lookout for a recording of the show in the days that follow.  If you happen to see it posted anywhere please drop me a line?

What makes the show even more special is that the Lips have been touring live performances of their 1999 masterpiece, The Soft Bulletin played from start to finish.  It’s rumored that the Rochester set will be one of the Bulletin shows!

And the band has just released the cover art for their upcoming album – The Soft Bulletin: Live La Fantastique de Institution 2011 (recorded live at SUNY Fredonia!)

Soft Bulletin Live

Just in case you haven’t seen any of the Flaming Lips’ legendary stage shows I have something special for you.  Click the link below to watch the very first Soft Bulletin Live concert from the 2011 New Year’s Eve Freak-Out.

The Soft Bulletin Live @ The 2011 New Years Eve Freak-Out

Definitely bummed that I’ll have to miss the show but I’m excited just the same that I’ll get to celebrate my 30th with all my friends and family back home.  See you then!