Topic A

It’s been long enough that I’m not really sure if the year was 1999 or 2000. But on January 1 of one of those years, I started a radio show on KDHX, called Radio Free St. Louis. I was blissfully unaware that WGNU had nicknamed itself that, which wasn’t known to me until RFSL went off the air a year later. Oops. That show was a talkie focusing on local music; it was a mix of recorded music, live sets and conversations with musicians, or affiliates. If memory serves correct, the first guest was Jordan Oakes, then publishing the power-pop fanzine Yellow Pills. It was a nasty evening, very icy. That I remember quite clearly.

After RFSL’s year, the show morphed into The Wire, a gig that would have its title grabbed by a popular cable show a bit later. (Really had a way with naming back then!) The show would be dedicated to local talk topics, on any subject of regional interest. After laboring through a run of doing it solo, I asked my frequent Metropolis colleague Amanda Doyle to come on as co-host. Luckily, she accepted and we ran the hour format for a time, until the combined efforts of Metropolis, the emerging The Commonspace and other projects suggested that we give up the show.

Which we did. For a short while.

Soon, though, Collateral Damage, our replacement show, would be split from an hour show to half that, with The Wire coming back on at 30-minutes. It worked that way for some years, before Amanda and I decided to change things up conceptually, with a new title: Topic A. With this format, we’d be able to talk to anybody, under the banner of monthly themes. We got to chat with some awesome folks (Hentoff, Zinn, etc.) and feedback seemed stronger than the previous gig.

In time, I was granted the show Silver Tray and I shifted from on-mic duties to purely running the board for Topic A. I think the show worked better with Amanda asking all the questions. My opinion is exactly that and it won’t change.

But with the station’s talk plans changing after the new year – and with volunteer hosts and producers long waiting for exactly what those changes will be, even a few weeks prior to rollover – our tenure on KDHX ends tonight. And the kicker is that I won’t be there and neither will Amanda. She’s pre-taped the show and is on vacation; and I’m loading records into the Halo Bar for a DJ set, so it’s a reather unfortunate bit of timing, a seriously unsentimental way to end a project of such length.

Over time, we segued to-and-out-of our show with a variety of great hosts. Early on, Paul Stark and Art Dwyer, when featured on Friday nights. On Mondays, we bumped up on Tom “Papa” Ray, DJ Wilson and Fred Hessel, Jeff “Kopper” Kopp, DJ Needles and G-Wiz and, of late, Annie Zaleski. And then the Barroom Bob segments! What a treat to listen to those over time.

It’s been fun to share a microphone with Amanda these many years, most of all. Probably, I enjoyed the set, weekly download of pre-show gossip as much as the show, itself. Thinking that Amanda’s choice of letting it go now is a good one. We weren’t burned out, but the gig wasn’t kicking the way it used to. With the permutations of the new talk block looking to add, rather than subtract, from responsibilities, it’s time to bounce.

It’s been a helluva lot of fun and hopefully has added something to the greater, overall, local conversation.

Thanks to anyone who listened, which is exactly what I’ll be doing tonight.

One thought on “Topic A

  1. Unsentimental tonight will be, but maybe it’s better that way; more of a “farewell” than an out-and-out goodbye. Those are all very kind words, TC, and my memories are similar. Most of all, thanks more than I can say to you for thinking to invite me at all — it’s been a great ride, I continue to believe you’ve forgotten more about St. Louis and its wacky underbelly and overtones than I’ll ever know, and the show has been a fun education. Hopefully it was so for listeners, as well. Now, let’s you and me think of another project we can do together. 🙂

    Favorite guest ever? I’m gonna think on that. But I’d like your answer, too.

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