On 20-Feb-2022, WREK paid tribute to Jon by re-airing one of the PC shows that they happened to still have in their music production system. That show was then available for streaming from their website for the following two weeks, but I then also captured it for posterity here. WREK happened to have this show’s audio in their system because it’s one that Jon had prerecorded in 2017. It’s a bit of an oddball show for him, since he was actually playing two albums in their entirety, so less sprawling coverage of rock music, but still a great listen. The full playlist is below.
WREK should have quite a few more of Jon’s shows in their system and I’m trying to get them to re-air those (in Jon’s old Sunday night timeslot) but for now at least we’ve got this one. Over the years I’ve stashed a few more in my personal archive so will get those up here someday as well.
I am providing here the raw mp3 files from WREK’s archive system. Normally these would be 30-minute chunks of WREK programming, but I hit a filesize limit while uploading here and so had to chop down into even smaller pieces. Yeah, that makes it annoying to download and play — just imagine how annoying it was for me to chop these files up and upload all of them! At some point, after I get the website’s upload filesize limit increased, I will come back here and edit them together into one file. For now, though, if you just play them in alphabetical order, they’ll sound like one two-hour show. Most of the chunks are 6-8 minutes long, with a couple even shorter ones at the beginning. (Note: during their airing, WREK actually mistakenly rewound the show by 8 minutes and played that again; I have edited that out here.)
Finally, below is a picture of the actual playlist from the show. Man, Jon’s handwriting was the best!
Jon passed away in on January 5th. There’s much to say about Jon, but this post will be focused on the website itself.
Dave Slusher and I set up this blog website for Jon back in 2006 as an outlet through which he could publish. From Sept 2006 to Feb 2008, Jon posted a longer form piece here every couple weeks, and you can still see those here — just scroll down! Then, like many of us I suppose, once he started on Facebook (in 2008-2009) he stopped posting on this personal blog. In 2014, when he started posting show playlists to Facebook, I was (for a short time) cross-posting the playlists here. At some point the website itself went defunct.
Upon hearing the news of Jon’s passing, I immediately reached out to Dave about restoring this website. Dave still had the domain registration and the site files, and Dave restored it all this morning, and I logged in and did some minor cleanup.
The site is a great snapshot of his writing — scroll down past my playlist posts to get to Jon’s own writing! In coming weeks and months, I will post content here in memorial to Jon, samples of the tributes that overflowed in the weeks following his passing.
On Sunday September 14th, Jon recognized the 30 year anniversary of Personality Crisis by talking about how it all got started. I’ve transcribed the story here for posterity.
[The following is a literal transcription of Jon’s story, so imagine it spoken out loud …]
We’re going to go back — we were talking a little bit ago about 1980. We’re going to skip ahead a couple of years to 1984. September 16th, 1984.
Jameela M. had done a program called “Solitary Confinement” that she actually took over. It started in 1979 or 1980, somewhere in that period. It was originally on Friday nights, which I missed a lot because I would forget that it was on, and I would be sitting there watching Fridays, and the next thing you know, I’d go, “Oh man, that radio show is on.” And so I’d turn it on, and hear some of it. So it was on Friday evenings for a while and then I don’t know exactly what year, it got switched over to Sunday nights at 10 pm.
When I started working at the radio station [in 1983], I would come down, and hang out with Jameela and Quentin, and Mark Mitchell, and Arthur [Davis], and all the crazy kooks who happened to be around on Sunday night. In the summer of 1984, I specifically remember Jameela coming up to me when Nick Cave played at 688 right at the end of June 1984. She told me that Arthur had basically asked her to quit doing the show. I think, that was as much because she had not been a student in several years, and the general philosophy of this radio station is to have students do radio programs whenever possible.
So I sort of started lobbying for the radio program. And Arthur … I forget how it happened. I submitted a bunch of names to him, possible names for this radio show. And the one that he picked was, “Personality Crisis”. And back on September 16th, 1984, it’s basically 30 years ago tonight, I went on the air for the first time with “Personality Crisis.” I did the first hour, and then Glenn Thrasher and Ellen McGrail came on and did from 11 pm to midnight. That went on for about three weeks.
At that point in time at WREK’s programming we had a punk show called “It Came Without A Warning” — it came on from 8pm to 9pm on Wednesdays. And then from 10pm to 11pm on Wednesdays, we had … I can’t remember if Arthur was calling it “Notes from Underground” at that point in time or not or if it was still “Conceptions”. But Arthur came on from 10pm to 11pm doing his noisy program.
I sort of noted that what Glenn was playing was sort of a cross between the punk show, and the noise show. And we had an hour of gap there, and that [Glenn and Ellen’s show] would fit in better than following what I was doing, to be honest. And so, “Destroy All Music” was born. So 30 years ago tonight, both “Personality Crisis” and a very nascent version of “Destroy all Music” were born at the same time. About a month later, Mike Mitten got permission to do a heavy metal show called “Night Reign” and the precursor to “WREKage” was born.
So three of WREK’s programs started 30 years ago either this month or next month. And this one started 30 years ago tonight. And here we are.
I am not Jon, rather a longtime listener to his show. I’ve been listening since 1988, when as a Georgia Tech student, I wandered into the WREK studios and started down the music rabbit hole.
Used to be, if you wanted to listen to a particular weekly show on WREK, you tuned in at the appointed time on your FM radio, and that was it. In November 1994, though, WREK started streaming the audio on the internet, so you could listen anywhere on the planet, and by 2000 the archive had been born, so you could now listen to any show, any time.
That changed my WREK listening forever. Since the early 2000s, I have not listened to WREK over the air. I download (example links below) all the shows that I’m interested in, put them in my mp3 player, and listen to them that way over the next week. This allows me to reliably keep up with all of the shows, no matter what my schedule that week might look like, allows me to skip backwards and forwards, keep shows for posterity, etc.
One problem though is that of playlists. What is Jon playing? Obviously I can just wait until the next voice break, when he announces what obscure stuff he’s been playing. But he can go for half and hour between announcements, and by then I’ve forgotten what all the prior music sounded like. It’s far more useful to have the playlist in front of me while I’m actually hearing the music.
Back around 2000, I was involved in a large-scale re-engineering of WREK, along with fellow WREK alumni Dave Slusher and Jim Evans. The three of us built a new digital automation system from scratch, a huge, complex undertaking that eventually earned us our names on a plaque on the wall of the studio. Jim did the digitial audio system, Dave did the database design and implementaiton, and I did all the procedures and processes that the staff use to run the station.
Part of that was an online playlist system so we could rid ourselves of the paper sheets that had been in use since the 1960s. It allowed you to take any piece of music in our rotation and add it to the computerized playlist in just a couple seconds, in a digital format that would eventually allow us to display the playlist online (at www.wrek.org) and generate reports such as how often a particular album was getting played.
One of my regrets, though, was that the online playlist system was difficult to use for our specialty show hosts. Since the bulk of the material that they played was not in WREK’s regular rotation, rather came from WREK’s extensive library if not from the show host’s personal collection, they had to type in all of the information about each song that they were playing, during the show. And I don’t mean just the artist and song title — the system required that you enter everything, from album name to record label to track number. Obviously this is onerous and so none of the specialty show hosts used it. What would have been nice would have been to offer them a way to just enter artist and song title information freehand.
Alas, my time at WREK ran out and I never got to this task on the todo list, and to this day Jon scribbles the playlist on a piece of paper and files it away in a binder, just like he’s done since the show starte in 1983.
Didn’t stop me from complaining though. Personality Crisis is the best show on Atlanta radio, but it’s even better if you have the playlist while you’re listneing, So every once and a while, I’d ask Jon if there was some way he could post the playlist. I thought maybe I could get him to post it on this blog here. I thought of going back to WREK and implementing the playlist system improvement described above. I thought of getting Jon to simply take a picture of the handwritten playlist sheet with his mobile phone and post it to Facebook.
Problem is, pictures from Jon’s phone were notoriously blurry. I mean, laughably so. His pictures were a hilariously absurd study in murky ambiguity, especially the low-light photos from live shows he was attending.
On December 13th, Jon got a new phone. The camera was crystal clear.
Aha! I asked Jon to take a picture of the playlist at the end of his next radio show and post it. And he did it!
Pictured above is the playlist from the December 15th, 2013 edition of Personality Crisis.
Now, this process is cumbersome for sure. Jon took the picture and posted it to Facebook. I downloaded it, authored this blog post, and uploaded the photo. It would obviously be simpler for him to post it directly here somehow. But I’ll be thankful for this first baby step for now, and will look forward to Jon posting the playlist for his next PC show, so I can post it here!
Here are the mp3 file download links for Personality Crisis. Each link is for a 30-minute chunk of the two-hour show, and I include the chunk after midnight because Jon usually runs long. These links will always work, because WREK has a two week archive with a sliding window. The first set of links is for the most recent Sunday show, and the second set is for the Sunday before that.
Check future posts for more playlists. Thanks Jon!