Campus Community

Confessions of a DJ

Written by Annie Beckmann

March 9, 2015

A student preparing to air KXSU

John Popko--aka "Nigel"--finds humor admidst technical difficulties.

University Librarian John Popko, known on the KXSU airwaves as Nigel, Your Favorite Child of the Sixties, might have a keen memory for music. He'd rather forget the technical problems he had with his radio show in recent weeks, though.   

This volunteer DJ goes to great lengths on Thursday nights to entertain his fans. Yet for two weeks' running, it was the email missives of the mellifluous-voiced host of The Finn Hill Sessions that had his would-be listeners smiling.   

With a little arm-twisting, a modicum of sympathy and a handful of his fans goading him about how funny his foibles are, Popko agreed that sharing his excerpts of his story might have a healing effect.   

"...Kind of like a combination humility lesson and cauterizing a wound," he says. "I have recovered most of whatever self-esteem I still had."   

Here's DJ John Popko's blow-by-blow:  

"Hey, everybody, 

"A funny thing happened on the radio program's journey to the internet:  it didn't make it! 

"My email to you Thursday, Feb. 19, was intended to give you a little heads-up on my plan for that night's show. When I got to the studio and tried to set up the recording of my show, I couldn't get the program on my laptop to function. I blamed it on the program, disappointedly gave up trying to record it, and fired up the studio equipment. About 45 minutes into my show I got a text from my daughter, one of the few semi-reliable listeners, to say that unless there was something wrong with her device there was something wrong with my show, because she couldn't hear me. 

"Turns out I had blithely spent 57 minutes thinking I was connecting over the internet, musically and emotionally, with all of my many listeners across the country and, in fact, the streaming signal was down the entire time…Alas, our DJ training did not include any technical information about how to recognize the status of the streaming signal and how to restart it if it was down. I was furious and vowed that my days as a volunteer wannabe-DJ…were over. 

"So the theme for tomorrow night's show will be the same as last week's: Body Parts, Part 2. Turns out I did a show under that theme almost exactly a year ago and noted that there was so much material that I would certainly do another edition. So it will be. 

"Regrettably, most of the body parts cited will be hearts and eyes, a bit trite for my taste, but that's all I can pull together. The musical range will be typical - from the twang of Aaron Tippin to the doo-wop of The Flamingos, from local guitar session man Jeff Fielder to The Stones, Ben Harper to Silversun Pickups."

And, just a week later...  

"Good afternoon, friends and family, 

"I hope you were not listening to the scheduled show last night. In the opening minute, as part of the hand-off from my 6-7 p.m. colleague, I managed to get tangled in a cable that hung down to the floor, jerk it out of the sound board and my laptop with my shoe and damage the computer jack beyond use. There was no spare to be found and there was no technical support to ride to my rescue. 

"It was a combination of funny and sad. In my enthusiasm to jump right into my show, I had failed to turn off the microphone so anyone listening heard my two long phone messages left for the station's contact people, heard me cough, and finally, heard me explain the situation and sign off for the evening. Thanks to Helen Spalding for texting and phoning me to alert me that the mic was still on. Otherwise… who knows?  I might have unintentionally bared my soul, said obscene or scurrilous things, destroyed my reputation, like Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes (played by Andy Griffith) in A Face in the Crowd (1957). 

"Well, at least I have a two-hour show ready to trot out on some more auspicious occasion. 

"Sadly re-evaluating my career options, yours truly…"

This just in…    

Third time's a charm. In spite of some microphone short-outs in the opening minutes of his broadcast on March 5, Nigel finally delivered his show on "Body Parts."