Celebrating 30 Years with WYSO
By Kyle Melton
Cultural change doesn’t happen overnight. In many cases, individuals work quietly, slowly altering the fabric of their communities without notoriety. While often a thankless task, their efforts over extended periods of time result in significant progress toward a more enlightened population. In the case of Jim Carter, known on the WYSO airwaves as Rev. Cool, over the past 30 years his passion for eclectic music has brought some of the most forward-thinking programming to the Miami Valley. This Friday, the Rev. will celebrate 30 years of his weekly radio program, Around the Fringe.
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Carter built a reputation locally as a promoter of early punk shows in Dayton, hosting numerous house shows around town, as local clubs still favored cover bands almost exclusively. While hosting events at Brookwood Hall with national touring acts such as D.O.A., Carter eventually built enough momentum with his events to move into local bars. His presentation of local punk favorites The Dates and Toxic Reasons at Walnut Hills is often cited as one of the first significant punk shows in the Dayton area.
“The first one we did was at Walnut Hills, which is now Tank’s,” recalls Carter. “I was always into publicity things, I called it the Battle of the Bands because I remembered the old ‘60s Battle of the Bands. The bands got kinda mad, saying it wasn’t a battle. I was just trying to make it seem like a deal. We had a three band showcase at the Hills and the place was just packed. We had a line out the door. The Toxics just stole the show. I think that was probably the first big punk rock show in town, that I know of.”
In 1982, Carter approached the station manager at WYSO about putting on a program that encapsulated his tastes for punk, reggae and world music. Along with Jim Collins, who dubbed their program Around the Fringe, he began broadcasting over the WYSO airwaves.
“The format has changed somewhat over the years, but it’s pretty much the same things,” Carter admits. “In the early years I had a lot more punk-type stuff with a mixture of roots music, world music, and reggae. I’ve always loved reggae. It’s probably been a Mayan shift, which is fine because your tastes change as you grow older.”
Over the past 30 years, Carter presented Around the Fringe on a weekly basis, delivering a uniquely eclectic show in the region, even the country. Carter considers the opportunity to share his diverse tastes with listeners in the Miami Valley a distinct privilege.
“When I’m at the station I’m by myself, it’s late at night and there’s nobody there,” explains Carter. “It’s just me and the audience. I just try to picture that there’s just one person that I’m playing music for. That’s what it really is. I’m having an opportunity to join good friends of mine and be their selector for a few hours. I think that’s a real compliment. A lot of them are by themselves or with their friends and they’re accepting me into their home and letting me play music for them and letting me join them for that short period of time.”
With a special program lined up this week that will feature live music from the Nick Kizirnis Band, email and phone messages from fans of the show, as well as Carter spinning music from around the world, he’s also dug out some archival footage from years past of special programming.
“I found some old tapes from past years and we’re going to play segments of those,” Carter says. “I found a Camper Von Beethoven show I did at Antioch College in this terrible space, I don’t know where it was. By whatever coincidence it turned out to be a really good tape, like almost a perfect tape. So we’ll be playing some segments from that.”
In celebrating 30 years on the air, Carter is extremely grateful to his listeners, as well as the community and station that have supported his efforts to bring diverse programming to the area.
“WYSO is a complete blessing to this area,” concludes Carter. “ I don’t know if the musicians and the music fans in this town realize what they’re getting for nothing, except for their contributions. For all the trials and tribulations of WYSO, they’ve stuck by me all these years. I can’t say enough for that. For the past 30 years, it’s been a complete pleasure and honor to do that.”
Around the Fringe with Rev. Cool will celebrate its 30th Anniversary with a show on Friday, February 10 at 9p.m. You can tune into WYSO at 91.3 FM or online at wyso.org.
Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@DaytonCityPaper.com and read his blog at thebuddhaden/net.