Regular readers know that I've recently begun digitizing the mountain of WPRB aircheck tapes I've accumulated since becoming a listener to the station back in the mid 80s. PRB DJs from that era like Josh Goldfein, Helen Petroff, Mr. Mike Shmelzer, and Rockin' Tim Kastelle remain some of my earliest FM heroes—not far behind Mr. Magic and DJ Red Alert—and certainly played a key role in setting my mind upon radio while still in my very early teens. I joined the WPRB airstaff in 1992 thanks to the encouragement of a few peers in whom I recognized a shared love for independent music and broadcasting. But the shift from idolizing DJs whom I only knew as on-air personalities versus those who would become close friends and creative collaborators was peculiar, to say the least. I still trade emails with many of them several times a week, whereas others vanished into the ether without leaving a single clue as to their next destination. One example of the latter was a woman named Corey.
She was one of WPRB's two music directors at the time I weaseled my way onto the air schedule. Corey was only a year or two older than me, but in many ways came across as the fearsome matriarch of the station. Though she never told me so, I'm sure she thought I was a dork. And she was right—I was a dork. I was a major dork. But I was also enthusiastic, willing to helm an overnight time slot, plus I had a vocal hatred for the band Primus (and therefore promised to deny any telephoned requests for them). It may sound strange now, but in 1992, that last detail was a major asset for townies hoping to land an airslot on the lauded commercial college station.
Corey was into really difficult music, for a student or otherwise. It's almost absurd to think of any current college-age DJ having her musical taste, which had somehow bypassed all the stuff I thought was cool at the time. Her aesthetic was rooted in the musical realm of John Giorno's Poetry Systems, the Dry Lungs noise comps, New Zealand weirdness like the Plagal Grind, the early Homestead Records catalog, and nobody garage bands who'd come and gone without a trace of recognition in their time. Unlike many of WPRB's programs (mine included) which were heavily mired in punk, pop, or indie rock, I recall Corey's show being truly freeform, and bound together by her brilliantly sardonic mic-breaks. After I got to know her, the sense that she was not one to trifle with became even more apparent. Corey was intimidating, she could be wicked mean if she felt like it, and she possessed an amazing ability to whip a bunch of unruly motherfuckers into shape in no seconds, flat.
Sadly, any airchecks I had of either her solo program, or the one she hosted with another female DJ (whose name I forget) called "The Three Bad Sisters" (each host comprising 1.5 of the sisters!) are now long gone, but I did manage to scare up this promo for a Cleveland-centric edition of WPRB's Spotlight which she hosted sometime in 1992.
Spotlight Promo from WPRB-FM
Although it has long since disappeared from WPRB's schedule, Spotlight was a fantastic program in its day. It was hosted by a different DJ each week, and one had to sign up months in advance (on a clipboard in the station's lobby, of course) for a date and artist to focus on. Subsequently, each week's edition of the program was like a crash-course in rabid obsession over a particular band, label, or scene. I fondly recall listening to overexcited DJs drool fanatically over entities as varied as Einstürzende Neubauten, the Feelies, Flying Nun Records... I once hosted an edition of it that focused entirely on the band NoMeansNo, but 15 minutes into my one hour segment, I discovered that an electrical storm had knocked the transmitter off the air and that not a note of my meticulously selected music had been heard. With only 45 minutes left to cram in the hour's worth of music, I raced through the entire thing without doing a single mic break, thusly wiping out any educational value that might've been foisted upon newcomers to the band's catalog. Oh well.
In honor of Corey's more lasting contribution to Spotlight's legacy, here's a classic Cleveland track from the vault:
Sosumi - "Art Party" [MP3], originally from the brilliant Crash Course in Cleveland Life compilation.