Back-up Vocal~ For countless students, the college years often include exposure to music styles completely new to them. New environment, new bands, new tunes. Utterly independent of classes and lectures, introduction to a new sonic spectrum is a rite of passage all its own. Where do many students get those doors opened? The college radio station. I was a college student in the 90’s, during the height of the Seattle Grunge/Alternative Music movement. As a guy in my 40’s, I’m part of the generation that was most reached by and resonated with that genre. I’m sorry to admit that I hated it. I loathed it. With the fiery passion of 5,000 blazing suns. 

There are a few potential reasons for my disdain. But, I put it down to overexposure. Between MTV, VH1 and my college radio station blasting “Alternative” music ad nauseam, I suspect that I wound up despising the genre before I ever got the chance to like it. That leads me to my own college radio show, which inspired this particular Comic. I was involved in our station in various ways all of my higher education years, hosting shows playing a variety of genres. But, I hold the biggest place in my heart for the one I ran my Senior year.  My show aired at 1 AM on Sundays. To many, that might sound like a purely horrific time slot. I loved it. Broadcasting that late meant I never had to deal the rotation format. It afforded me the chance to play all the music I love. So, while the rest of the Dee-Jays were spinning Grunge, Punk and God only knows what else, I played PROG ROCK! Bands like Marillion, Yes, Pendragon, Asia, King Crimson, Renaissance and Dream Theater to name a few. But, I also played music from solo artists like David Knopfler, John WettonJon Anderson and Fish. Plus, Instrumental music from Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Mark Knopfler, Neal Schon, Gary Hoey and The Travis Larson Band. If I liked it, I played it. Because I had it. Nobody else did, so nobody else could. Or would. I even played a Valentine’s Weekend show consisting of nothing but love songs, most of which came from James Bond movie soundtracks. 

I look back on that time now, and I see what a magical year it was in my life. True, it never lead to a career in radio. But, it allowed me to share music that speaks to me. I don’t know how many people were even listening. But, maybe a few minds were opened to broader landscapes than the ones they knew. My only regret is that several albums which are now lifeblood for me, didn’t get released until a few months after I graduated. Thus, they never made it to my little corner of the airwaves. Still, the world I’ve got here now, allows me to spread the word even more than my college radio show did. Perhaps my little zoo will inspire a few others to explore music from the bands I cite in these pages. They may find some songs that speak to them in ways they never knew they needed. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.