Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Wild Thing Kind Of Night

Back in high school, I spent a couple of years as the video cameraman for our basketball team. It was an interesting experience, and I went to a lot of games all over the place. That meant a lot of time riding the bus. One night, everyone on the bus shared a slightly surreal radio moment.

I don't exactly remember when this was, but you can narrow it down to late '88/early '89 or late '89/early '90. We were returning from a game one night, and it was cold and dark already. As we drove through Lake Charles, the late night D.J. on radio station Bayou 104 made a rather strange proclamation.

I should pause here and tell you that KBIU, Bayou 104, was the rock station in my area in the 1980s. If you wanted contemporary rock, it was where you turned to on the dial. KBIU still technically exists, but it has since changed formats multiple times and does not resemble the station of my youth except that it is playing many of the same songs it did then. It's not even at the same number.

Anyway, as we are toodling along on the bus, the D.J. apparently loses his mind. He says that he is going to play Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" continuously until women in bikinis show up at the station. Don't forget, it's cold, dark, and late already when he issues this ultimatum. "Wild Thing" begins, and we all sort of laugh at this man's insane folly.

We stopped at Burger King to eat, and everyone unloaded and promptly forgot about "Wild Thing". Then, after at least a half hour of Whoppers and paper crowns (we WERE high school kids), we get back on the bus and learn that "WILD THING" IS STILL PLAYING ON THE RADIO.

If you have forgotten, this is "Wild Thing":


I need fifty dollars to make you holler!

...Now imagine hearing that at minimum 12 times in a row, with the only alternatives being the country music station or turning off the radio entirely. None of those options are attractive with a bus full of rowdy teenagers.

It took us at least 45 minutes to get from Burger King to the school. I don't remember how long we listened. I don't remember when "Wild Thing" finally stopped, or if we were listening when it did. I seem to have heard that one woman did show up with a bikini underneath a heavy fur coat and flashed the jock a glimpse just to get him to stop. Then again, that might just be my memory filling in the details.

I don't quite know what to make of that little stunt, which I would be hard-pressed to credit if I hadn't heard it myself. I am aware that "crazy" things that happen on the air are sometimes planned out for some larger purpose. To me, this didn't sound like one. This sounded like a disc jockey going off on his own and doing something stupid for his own amusement. Certainly, it was way too long and annoying to have been pre-approved by even the dimmest of management. It was years before I could listen to "Wild Thing" again.

Still, I kind of miss those days. It's a lot less likely that you'll encounter something that off-the-chain on the radio airwaves now.

2 comments:

Xenorama said...

our local top 40 station Q 103 once played Gary Numan's "Cars" 6 times in a row, for reasons I don't remember any more. this was in 1980, after the song had peaked. I think there was a contest to see which listener could tell how many times it had been played.

the same DJ later played Lipps, Inc. "Funkytown" "until we begged him to stop" but after two and a half times he cut in and said he hated the song and wouldn't play it any more. he then tried to make it sound better by playing with the speed of the record.

I still like "Cars" and am still rather indifferent to any version of "Funkytown". LOL

C. Elam said...

I know enough now about how radio works that I have ideas as to WHY such stunts might happen, including this particular one. It's just that his terms seemed a little outrageous and it went on so damn long.

Still, that in itself might have been part of the explanation. Who knows?