I’ve touched on pieces of this story before in other things I’ve written, but here’s a more complete story of how it all came to be, from the early seeds to inception...
Like many of my success stories in Hip Hop, doing radio was not something I planned. It was sort of hand-delivered to me. However, I had long being intrigued by it. As a pre-teen who became aware of Hip Hop in late ‘79/early 80 while living on an Army Base in Germany (Karlsruhe and then Stuttgart) there were very little outlets for feeding my newfound addiction. The primary means of hearing new Hip Hop came from the tapes that new families moving to the base would bring from “The States”, as we affectionately called that far off land. More often than not, those tapes were radio shows from WBLS with Mr Magic and Marley Marl and 98.7 Kiss with Kool DJ Red Alert and Chuck Chillout, as well as Mastermixes from The Latin Rascals and Shep “The Bone” Pettibone”. To this day when I hear certain songs from that era, approximately ’82-’85, I remember them the way they were played on those tapes that I listened to over and over again. Even though these things are non-existent in the original versions I listen to now, I can still hear the scratches, blends, Machine Gun Edits, echo chambers, and so on.
When I moved to “The States”, I continued to seek those radio show tapes out, leading to discovering Lady B in Philly on Power 99 and others. When we went on family vacations I would search the radio dial to find Hip Hop. In Detroit I found the high-energy, sped up mixes of The Wizard and The Electrifying Mojo. Even in the small town of Galesburg, IL they had a Hip Hop show with a guy named Vinnie on WVKC, the Knox College station. Visiting my Uncle Chris in Peoria, IL in ’85 I recorded radio mixes from a station out there and that’s where I heard a commercial for Fresh Fest II, which I was destined to miss attending, much like the first Fresh Fest. I was sad to miss the concert, but happy to at least have the commercial on tape.
When we moved to the Far North Chicago Suburbs (a brief stint in Highland Park before settling on the Great Lakes Naval Base) I searched the radio dial frantically for Hip Hop, but found nothing. I searched night after night and all I could find was House Music and the normal Top 40 radio standard. I was extremely disappointed until the homie, Mike G (not yet known as the super-rapper S.P.O) loaned me a tape of a local radio station. It seemed I hadn’t searched hard enough, but now I was religiously tuned into WNUR 89.3 Evanston-Chicago and couldn’t be happier. I spent most of my High School years listening to and taping the sounds being played by P Lee Fresh (of Mental Giants), Larry Lar and Sweet MD, T Shab Lee, Kelly G and Cash Money Jerome, etc… Without WNUR it is highly unlikely I would have been as informed about Hip Hop as I was. As a result, the station and every DJ/Host involved forever have my gratitude.
When ’92 hit I started my company, Rage Promotions and was working for record labels (Indies and Majors), artist managers or connecting with artists direct to get my music, so I only listened to WNUR periodically. In fact, in a bit of role reversal, my connections in the industry and with the artists had me bringing down rare demos and unreleased music for the DJs on WNUR to play on their show. While dropping off music for the WNUR DJs I would often hang out and talk with them about Hip Hop, including many debates, sometimes discuss things on-air and my crew and I would hang in the back room and freestyle for hours. At some point, my right hand man, Black Man Zeke, had convinced them to give us a 20-30 minutes of their show to do a short segment where we would bring in an local underground artist, play a couple of their demo tracks and interview them. However, we only did one episode with Kinetic Order and not sure what happened after that.
Around this same time, I was also getting my official first radio training. There was a guy named Ron O a.k.a Jello going to school down in Champaign, IL and he had a radio show on WEFT. Along with Rage Promotions, I was also pushing my Rage Productions and Management biz, which represented a bunch of local artists (S.P.O, Black Man Zeke, Undaground Soulution, Brain Leakage, DeeJayBird, Rhythm Mafia [Twice Born, L.O.D, Cueball, Thawfor, Detanator, Zulu], D.O.P.E, and my group, Savage Intellect*). We discovered that Champaign was a cool place to hang out and regularly drove the couple hours ride down there. We could meet cute College girls, which was honestly the primary activity most the time, freestyle at various parties, perform a handful of times, and hang out on WEFT with Ron O on many of his shows. Sometimes we were just bugging out on-air, other times freestyling or performing live versions of songs. Of the crew, I was probably the most vocal and consistent on-air, in terms of talking, as well as assisting with the show. I would do shout-outs, answer phone calls and talk to listeners, and do some unofficial co-hosting on a few occasions**. Apparently, I did a decent job at it because one day Ron O called me to assist him in pre-recording an interview that he could air later with Das Efx right before their first album dropped. Then later he had me back on-air to do a phone interview with Arrested Development, which was really my officially debut on radio, aside from rhyming and doing shout outs.
Once Ron O graduated from College he moved back out our way and convinced WNUR to give him a radio show on Thursday nights, I’m pretty sure there was not a Hip Hop show on Thursday nights then, it was just the Streetbeat show that was all over the place with Hip Hop, Electronic, House, etc… He started the “In The AM Show” with DJ 33 1/3, DeeJayBird as his Co-Host and me as an on-going guest host. Honestly, from that point things get a little grey. I feel like I was coming weekly for a while and then I started coming less often and then barely coming at all. At some point, DeeJayBird had stopped going as well. As for what happened next, I have told the story so many times that it is starting to sound like urban legend even to me. Regardless, this is how I remember it. One day the Program Director, Shawn “Boogie” Boyd, gave me a call because Ron O couldn’t host the show for whatever reason and he asked if I would fill in because I was the most qualified from my previous sit-ins. I believe he had called Bird first and he deferred him to me because he couldn’t or didn’t want to do it. I remember thinking, possibly aloud, “Host my own radio show??? I guess I could do that, I got the music and it’s just a one time thing…”
That first night was 4-20-95 and I fell in love with it immediately. It was bittersweet because I was now instantly addicted to this “one time thing”…however, Ron O, for whatever reason, never came back and one night became 7 years!!
Below is a playlist for that first show and it reflects my conscious mission from the moment I had the opportunity to be on the radio. I wanted to play the songs that I didn’t hear anyone or hardly anyone else playing on the radio. That included new music, as well as some favorites of mine from the past that I had probably never heard on the radio ever. I also was intent on covering the various eras of Hip Hop. That’s the same basic ideology that I still apply to my radio efforts today…
More Time Travel stories, history and free downloads coming soon!!
Shouts out to the original radio crew: Chris “Illogic” Halloway (co-host), DeeJayBird (Co-Host), DJ Spank, DJ Dread, Da Brig, The Urbanites (Tao, Marvalus, Kiwi, etc…), Mental Blokc (JEL, Vybe, Whut?***)
Radio Show Playlist 4-20-95***
Dark Skinned Assassin-Lock Shit Down ‘95
East Flatbush Project featuring Payday-A Madman’s Dream ‘94
Organized Konfusion-Bring It On ‘94
Instrumental-Mic Geronimo-Masta IC ‘95
Masta Ace INC-Ain’t No Game ‘95
UBC-Mail It Frosty ‘90
Red Hot Lover Tone-Like That ‘95
The Genius-Words From A Genius ‘91
Craig G-What UR Used To ‘91
The Roots-Mellow My Man ‘94
Bahamadia featuring The Roots-Da Jawn (original version) ‘94
Instrumental-Rockmaster Scott & The Dynamic Three-Request Line ‘83
------------DJ Spank Live On The Turntables---------------
Gravediggaz-Freak The Sorceress ‘94
Del feat Opio & Pep Love-Undisputed Champs ‘93
Ras Kass-Remain Anonymous ‘94
Craig Mack-Get Down Remix ‘94
Latee-Wake Up ‘88
Terminator X w/Bonnie N Clyde-Homey Don’t Play Dat ‘91
3rd Bass-Sole In The Hole ‘89
Dana Dane-Dana Dane With Fame ‘87
Boogie Down Productions-The Bridge Is Over ‘87
Gang Starr-Code Of The Streets ‘94
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo-It’s A Demo ‘86
Notorious B.i.G-Party & BS ‘93
KRS One-Hip Hop VS Rap ‘93
King Just-No Flow in The Rodeo ‘95
Grandmaster Mele Mel & Furious Five-Step Off ‘84
Beastie Boys-Paul Revere ‘86
Instrumental-Mary J Blige-Be Happy ‘94
Freestyle Session: Illogic (Waukegan), Whut? & Vybe Of Mental Blokc, Tao The Intangible
A)Joi-Sunshine & Rain
B)Casual-Me O Mi O Remix
D)ODB-Brooklyn Zoo Remix
------END Of DJ Spank Mix------
Instrumental-Eric B & Rakim-Paid In Full ‘87
Rubberoom-High Noon ‘95
Bad Boys-Veronica ‘85
Chino XL-92.3 The Beat Freestyle ‘95
Craig Mack-Flava In Your Ear Remix ‘94
Akinyele-Wake Up Show Freestyle ‘94
Written By Kevin Beacham “The Dimensional Doorman of Time Travel”
*Down in Champaign we also recruited I Spi (Gordon Gekko and Space Ghost) into the Rage Productions collective. Ispi was a group that I really wish I had focused on doing a demo with. They were surely among the most organized and pro-active in the crew, but I think them being so far away affected how I prioritized them, in hindsight it probably should not have been that way.
** KBATE of Undaground Soulution definitely and DeeJayBird sometimes also did some of these co-hosting type duties as well.
***MC Bran was also in Mental Blokc, but I don’t think he ever came to the station.
****The show wasn't originally called Time Travel. I don't think it even had a name. In a upcoming post I'll explain how, why, and when the Time Travel name was born...