Monday, July 5, 2010

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Man, it’s been a while…

Never Mind the Mainstream has been done for over a month now. Actually, it’s been more like a month and a couple of weeks. These past few weeks have been the craziest weeks of my life. I mean, the huge thing was that I graduated from Kutztown University and had to say goodbye to the school and community that was my home for the past four years. That was weird. Leaving Kutztown and the great friends I’ve made over the years was not easy. There have been so many memories made there in that small town. I think I can go ahead and say the stereotypical phrase, “college was the best time in my life.” The thing is – it truly was. I’m not lying. In every sense of the word, it was great. A paradise, almost. But now my four year vacation is over. Life hurries on. Like a rolling stone.

Since moving back, I’ve been adjusting to living at home with my family again. In most ways, it’s the same as it ever was, except now my parents expect more from “college graduates”, meaning my brothers and I have regressed into little kids and must obey “the rules” again. My hometown, Whippany, is just as beautiful as ever this time of the year. In fact, all of New Jersey is very green, and sunny most days. Childhood friends are still around. Some are getting “real” jobs, while others are still in school, and then there are a select few who have decided to just do “nothing” for a while. Either way, it’s great to see familiar faces. Some people have changed, but that’s what college and four years away from home will do to people. Regardless, I’m not discouraged or upset. That’s life.

I’m also adjusting to my new role in life as a member of the “real world”. I’m an intern at a youth sports media company, Youth1 (youth1.com). Basically, I write a handful of articles (both original and cited) per day, promote them with the company’s social media tools, and add files to the website’s directory. It’s a lot of work, but mainly because it’s a start-up company. It’s not so bad though. My bosses are really cool, I work with my older brother, and the town where I work in, Montclair, is really scenic. I like to walk around at lunch and see the sights. There’s actually a really cool theater here. It’s called the Wellmont, and I saw The Shins there last May. I’m halfway done with my internship there, but we’ll see what happens once I complete it. Maybe they’ll pick me up as a full-time, paid employee. The question is, “do I really want to write about little league and sports equipment as a career?” I don’t think so. But hey, I need to start somewhere, or so says every older person I’ve talked to about it.

Since I’m doing so much writing during the day, I’m finding it hard to do anything else on the weeknights and weekends but sleep and relax. I also work on the weekends at Jersey Mike’s Subs, which is a giant headache and not worth the frustration anymore (it’s more of a high school job, anyway). I was talking to a friend of mine a while back; a good dude who graduated from KU in the Professional Writing department with me this semester. He also interned with me at Youth1 (although he’s done now). He told me that he didn’t want writing to become stale for him after graduation. I agreed. Writing these articles, day in and day out, about something I’m not even passionate about, is killing my interest in journalism. Still, I know this internship won’t last forever. It’ll be over this time next month, so I’m just going to stick it out. Once it’s all over, I think I’ll be like some of those select few acquaintances who will just do “nothing” for a couple of weeks.

I’ve been meaning to post something on this blog for a long time, but like I said, I’m stretched pretty thin over my jobs (as well as my on-line Professional Seminar course, which is a waste of time; and of course, my “me” time). But I really wanted to get some thoughts down in text about college radio; some thoughts about broadcasting; being an on-air personality for so long; the future of radio (my future in radio); and rock music in general. It’s certainly a lot to cover, but I’ll see what I can muster up. Just bare with me, this may not be the cleanest and most organized piece in my blogging history.

Going back to what I said first, Never Mind the Mainstream is retired. I think about it constantly, but mostly on Fridays, around six o’clock, just as the show would have been starting up. I think about the show when I hear new music (and there’s a lot of really great music coming out lately) that I think would fit our show’s theme. I think about the show when I listen to the mainstream stations in my car or when I turn on MTV, Vh1, or any other “music television network”. It’s on my mind because it was such a big part of my life when I was a college student. As my co-host Jim Adair has claimed several times over and over again, Never Mind the Mainstream is (was) the highlight of our week. We got to spin some of the best alternative and independent music known to man. The songs we played made us sing and dance, and prompted some truly interesting conversations and debates. Our callers made us laugh to the point of tears and to the point of censorship on more than one occasion. We shared personal stories, music industry news, and a few drinks with friends and family inside that tiny little station in the basement of the student union building. From paying our dues the station, we got to witness live shows, attend awards banquets (still can’t believe we lost Best College Radio Show at the Philadelphia Achievement In Radio Awards in November), and promote our station and shows to the masses. We controlled a medium, and even though things got a little out of control at times, with all the banter and rants, it was still just a very original and liberating time. We had an amazing college radio experience. I don’t think most people who pursue a secondary education anywhere could say they had more fun than we did. It’s difficult to put it into words, but if you heard at least one show that we did over our two years doing Never Mind the Mainstream, you’d understand how excited we were about being disc jockeys.

Before Never Mind the Mainstream, I hosted a show by myself for a year called Alternative Minutes. That was like the awkward stage of my college radio life. I was all alone and ran out of ideas pretty early. However, I played around with spinning full albums, genre-specific themed shows, and shows with tunes by one artist or band. At the same time, I did a Friday morning show with station veteran Andy Palamara called Bacon & Eggs. That was a blast. We would yell at students walking into classes and had a few other fun segments (“Whacky Headlines”).

Before Alternative Minutes and Bacon & Eggs, there was the A.I.R.R. show. Alternative Indie Rock Radio, hosted by yours truly, alongside a very old man, Allen Reed (just kidding, but he did have like four years on me). This was my first taste of actual college radio, after the training sessions where I worked the boards on the daytime programming or when I sat in on other radio member’s shows. Allen liked to play a lot of cover songs, which prompted the “Allen Reed Memorial Of The Week” we spun every week on our show. He was also a giant Evanescence fan, which earned him a ton of grief and picking on from yours truly, Jim, and other radio station regulars. He was a great co-host, because he was easy to pick on. But like Jim and Andy, we worked well off each other.

All those shows had debuts and finales. All those shows had unorthodox incidents of randomness and debauchery. They all accumulated to my college radio experience. Broadcasting with those people during those shows have made me a better person, a more open, random and wild person. The times in between classes sleeping on the lobby’s couch or invading a younger DJ’s show are just some of the pop-in moments I loved the most at 88.3 FM KUR.

So now that it’s all over, I wonder what’s next. I know for Jim, he’ll continue being a student at KU, and he’ll take over my position as President of the station. I’m sure I’m leaving the airwaves in good hands. As for my manager, Mike Regensberger, who put up with so much of my insanity and bizarre ideas, will continue fighting for our station to receive an FCC license (which is a very long and aggravating process). The new promotion director will take my place and go even further with it. The new directors and leaders will inherit a station on the rise, a station with unbelievable potential.

I have a strongly desired goal/purpose, something that fully satisfies a wish (a dream). I’m going to be an on-air personality. Somewhere, somehow – I’m going to do it. Whether it is in New York City, Philadelphia, Newark, or Allentown – I will be heard. I will broadcast again. I will spin rock & roll, a genre of music that is coming back to the mainstream in a mighty push. I will discover new music that will make me sing, dance, move, think, and believe. I’ve never been more passionate about anything in my life. I think my experiences at Kutztown and KUR will certainly benefit me in the future. In fact, they already have. I get into a radio conversation with a stranger just about every week, and I have my openness and knowledge of the business to thank for it.

I’m going to start a new blog. I’m not sure what it will be called or what I’m going to do with it, but I know I won’t be posting as frequently as I had been on this one for the past two years. Jim will be joining me. I’m almost positive we’ll be moving to WordPress, because the both of us really can’t stand Blogger any longer. Writing cannot become stale for me, it cannot be a chore, and I will not let it. It was always be an escape and a canvas of my ideas and thoughts.

I have a future ahead of me. Or at least, I hope I do. Jim’s got one, too, for sure. As does everyone in KUR, at Kutztown, and every passionate young person around the world. No matter what I do or where I go, I’ll never forget my beginnings in college radio. I’ll never forget all those who turned to the left of the dial to hear my voice and the music that I thought deserved to be heard. I’ll be around, friends.

Thank you. Much appreciation and love to you for all the years of support.

- Mike Pop

P.S. I’ll post our Total NMTM Playlist as our final post on this site. From there, you’ll be redirected to the new blog.

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