Behind the Mic: Uncle Scotty

This interview is part of our weekly series, “Get to Know Your DJs.”

It all begins in Los Angeles, California, where a skinny young rock ‘n’ roll singer struggled to get his music heard on the radio. Rodney Bingenheimer was playing local bands on KROQ, and eventually KNAC came into the picture and promoted upcoming acts on their Pure Rock Local Show. Back then, radio DJs were treated as celebrities, and it meant a lot to get your band heard over the airwaves.

Uncle Scotty hosts Radio Hot Tub on Fridays from 8 – 10 a.m.

Yes, I was that skinny rock and roll singer, and after years of struggling to get that elusive “record deal,” I threw in the towel and decided to try something new. One of the DJs at KNAC told me I had the “gift of gab” and that I should try getting into the radio business.

I began making demo tapes, and after a year of rejected applications, I was finally offered a morning show job in a tiny town in the middle of the Mojave desert. That’s where I honed my skills, learned how to record commercials, and create compelling content in between classic rock songs! That job ended after about a year, and my search continued.

I landed my next morning show job in the Bible Belt of Kansas, and over lunch my new boss and I discussed what the name of my new show should be. I had recorded a demo tape pretending to broadcast from a sleazy hot tub, and my boss joked, “We should call the show ‘Scotty’s Hot Tub’– that would really upset the locals!” My program director added, “How about “Uncle Scotty. That sounds sleazier!” We all laughed about it, but then as my first show approached, the owner was out of town, and the PD dared me to go on air as Uncle Scotty’s Hot Tub. We expected backlash, but the listeners quickly gravitated to it, calling in and saying, “I wanna get in the Hot Tub!” The rest is history.

I spent the next 20 years moving around to stay in the radio business. My career took me from the desert, to Kansas, Idaho, Washington, back to Los Angeles, and eventually to Canada where I did morning radio for several years before getting canned and left with no job and an expired work visa.

I always wanted to live in Portland, so I moved here with no job and no prospects. I quickly fell in love with the local music scene and decided I wanted to give back to these musicians what I always wanted from radio stations when I was a performer. I created my own online radio station and began streaming local bands, promoting their shows, and attending their gigs.

A new non-profit radio station called XRAY had just started up, so I volunteered my services and hoped to get local bands on the air. But after a couple years they never offered me an on-air show. Then Freeform Portland came along!

I now dedicate my spare time to discovering new bands and artists in the clubs and getting their music played on the radio. I went from being the singer on stage who wanted to get heard, to the radio DJ working for big stations that refused to showcase local talent, to finally being able to use my radio skills and my love of live local music. Freeform Portland gives me the opportunity to do radio the way it’s supposed to be: locally focused and commercial free!

Listen to Uncle Scotty’s Radio Hot Tub each Friday from 8 – 10 a.m.

Behind the Mic: Meet DJ Dick Diesel

This interview is part of our weekly series, “Get to Know Your DJs.”

Tell us about your show! Hello listeners and supporters! I host Aged Classics From the Diesel Cellar on alternating Saturdays from 8 – 10 p.m. My show centers around finely aged classic rock, garage rock, punk, metal, psych, doom, etc. I like to focus mainly on the B-sides and the obscure stuff from known to unknown bands. I also feature local Portland acts, because we are a mecca for great art and music…always have been.

DJ Dick Diesel, host of Classics From the Diesel Cellar

What inspired you to become a DJ? I discovered Freeform Portland by accident by tuning through the dials on my car radio. I was hearing music that I knew very well but would never hear on commercial radio. Later on, I met two DJs from the station. One was working the door at a local club and the other was a good friend who told me that the station was accepting new DJ applications and encouraged me to apply. I did, and here I am, going on more than two years now!

What inspired me to become a DJ was the fact that I’ve always loved sharing music with others. I was the guy giving out mixtapes to friends back in my schooldays saying, “Check this out! It’s a new band…they’re called Slayer.” (Yes, I’m that old.) Music sharing and making people happy by sharing it is my main inspiration for being a DJ. The Freefrom Community is great. I fit right into it because regardless of music we all like, we’re all about the music–no hype, no egos, no BS. Just the tunes! As it should be.

What do you love most about being a DJ? Paul Stanley from KISS said something back in their early days about why they do what they do, what their crazy rock show with makeup and explosions was all about. And this quote has always stuck with me: “Well, we always wanted to be the band that we never saw. No musicians with their backs to the crowd. No one sitting on a stool with a guitar. Just a crazy, loud rock ‘n’ roll show.” And that’s pretty much how I view what I do with my radio show. I get to create a show that I always wanted to hear: Nothing but the tunes, no commercials, and I get to play what I want. Win, win!

What was your most memorable show? My most memorable live show that I did was my very first one. I was so nervous, but I pulled it off with minimal mistakes. And so can you, new DJ!

What records can you listen to over and over again? Black Sabbath – Vol. 4; The Damned – Damned; Hellripper – Coagulating Darkness; Mercyful Fate – Melissa; Judas Priest – Stained Class; John Denver – Greatest Hits.

What else do you like doing when you’re not DJing? I enjoy record collecting, guitars, gardening, hockey (Go Hawks! Go Oilers! Go Golden Knights!) my cats Buddy and Zephyr, and daydreaming….

Listen to Aged Classics From the Diesel Cellar every other Saturday from 8 – 10 p.m.

Behind the Mic: Meet Sanjo

This interview is part of our new weekly series, “Get to Know Your DJs.”

What inspired you become a DJ? Mix tapes were a huge passion of mine when I was growing up. I used to queue up for songs on the radio late nights and make mixes for crushes and friends. I started losing that later in adulthood when tapes, then CDs, and then free downloads all kind of went away for the most part. I started fixating on getting a DJ set-up to more or less listen to my records more actively, like a live mix tape by myself at home. Coincidentally, right after I got my set-up the way I wanted, I saw a Freeform Portland DJ recruitment flyer and thought, “Why not?” Here I am.

Sanjo, host of Beginner’s Mind Riot

Tell us about your show!
Beginner’s Mind Riot is primarily an exploration of psychedelic music—a bit of a catch-all for 60s/70s psych, freakbeat, prog, krautrock, jazz, acid rock and soul. I play other stuff for sure, but that’s the bread and butter of it. Not only is “psych” music massively foundational for nearly all contemporary genres from hip-hop samplings to punk rock anti-authoritarianism to most of indie’s emotional and shoegazing fundamentals—it’s also got a lot of something we don’t have enough of these days in my opinion: a quest for insight/right mind. I don’t hear a lot of new music actively seeking an internal presence of mind that wants to engage the self and the world both positively and consciously. I don’t hear a lot of new stuff that’s willing to live in that space. I think pure anger, pure nihilism, pure coldness, pure overwhelm, or on the other hand, pure party, pure vapidness, pure “good vibes” are all kind of lost on me. Psych music, and soul for that matter, have lyrical and musical dimensions that speak with an unmatched warmth to constant change, transformation, and struggle. So that’s what I try to get at with my show!

What do you love most about DJing? I love the songs I find and I want to share them and hope people feel what I feel or dig on it the way I do. I love getting to throw things out there for anyone listening. I love having a show and DJing out because it takes that idea of making someone a mix tape out into the world at large. I DJ like it’s more of a listening party than a dance party. There’s also an essence to anything I play: It’s gotta have a hook/riff/break/moment!

What advice can you offer to aspiring DJs? Unless you really love just one thing, don’t stick to one style, whether it’s collecting or DJing. Plenty of DJs just want to rock a party with disco and boogie or whatever. Nothing wrong with that, but I’d challenge any DJ to push the boundaries of what a set can sound like. It’s like movies to me: If you want a non-stop, adrenaline-fueled action flick, that’s can be awesome, but that’s not the only thing people need or deserve to see. If all that appears in theatres were action flicks, that would end up being all people expect going to the movies.

I feel the same about the DJ booth. Music is here to engage in not just our senses, but our sensibilities. You can dance to it or have it in the background sure, but music can also evoke deep thinking, complex feelings, memories, ideas, inspiration, conversations, touches with history, and expansion. Always consider expanding a listener. The honor of people listening is also a responsibility and a platform. Try to give listeners something to take with them.

Listen to Beginner’s Mind Riot every other Friday from 8 – 10 p.m.

Behind the Mic: Meet Mammal In Crime

This interview is part of our new weekly series, “Get to Know Your DJs.”

How did you first get involved with Freeform Portland? My old pal was one of the original founders of the station and invited me to participate. I’ve been involved off and on since 2017.

What does Freeform Portland mean to you? Live, volunteer-driven, non-commercial radio is a rare breed these days. I’m a big advocate of keeping it alive and well, building community through the aural landscape, and playing eclectic tunes that fall outside of the mainstream. Freeform Portland is an incredibly imaginative group of humans. There’s not a single time that I’ve tuned into the station and not found myself in a place of discovery. It’s nuanced and totally unpretentious.

What inspired you to become a DJ, and what do you love most about it?
I’ve been mixing tapes, CDs, and playlists most of my life–for parties, for openings, for coffee shops and bars, for friends and lovers. Being a DJ seemed like a natural next step. I love sitting and/or dancing in the studio while dedicating two solid hours to the earscape, without distractions. It’s a very present experience.

Mammal In Crime, broadcasting every other Wednesday from 4 – 6 p.m.

Tell us about your show! It’s called Bachelard’s Panty Drawer and it’s a theme-based show that includes music, musings, readings, and sometimes interviews.  

Who are some of your favorite artists or bands? I like a wide range of music from all over the world, from many eras: funk, disco, pop, punk, classical, metal, wave, goth, soul, hip hop, old country, folk, jazz, experimental, blues, minimal, meditative, and so much more. If I were to look back and assess which artist I’ve played the most on my show it would probably be Nina Simone. She’s a force.  

What was your most memorable radio show? The one I did most recently on the olfactory. I played smell-themed songs, read smell-themed excerpts from poems and essays, and had a sniff-off with an ASMR pro. It was a true smell-o-radio highlight.

What record can you listen to over and over and never tire of? There are so many so it’s hard to choose, but the one album I’ve listened to the most in my life is probably Yo La Tengo’s “I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.”

What advice would you give to aspiring DJs? Have fun! Because when you’re having fun,  listeners can feel it. 

Outside of radio, what are your other interests or hobbies? Writing, dancing, cooking with plants, growing plants, walking amongst plants, diatoms, shamatha-vipashyana meditation, elephant umwelt, desert camping, star ogling, mud wrestling, cuddling with my partner and child and canine, traveling, reading creative non-fiction, floating on water, doodling, sending real mail, visiting dusty museums, taking pictures of flowers, watching documentaries, seeing folk art, crooning, playing instruments, and so much more. Life’s a mega-wonder.

Tune in to Bachelard’s Panty Drawer
every other Wednesday from 4 – 6 p.m.

Behind the Mic: Meet Joshua Justice

This interview is part of our new weekly series, “Get to Know Your DJs.”

How did you first get involved with Freeform Portland, and what does being part of the station mean to you? I began volunteering in the summer of 2016 filling in for shows. That autumn I applied for a show and have been a part of Freeform Portland ever since! Being part of the station means creating and maintaining a diverse, caring, inclusive environment, and also sharing the music we love with our community!

What inspired you to become a DJ? I’d been DJing at KPSU (Portland State University) prior, and still felt like too much of an amateur for a “real show.” After my first volunteer meeting with Freeform Portland, I felt so welcome and encouraged by the folks at the station!

Who are some of your favorite artists or bands? Nina Simone, Bobbie Gentry, Karen Dalton. The three greats!

What record can you listen to over and over and never tire of?
Nina Simone’s Live In Paris.

Tell us about your show! My show Static + Distance has evolved over the years, but one thing you can count on is me never sticking with one genre long. I primarily play music from the 60s/70s, but not always. I also usually play from my record collection, but curate the occasional all digital show for stuff I don’t own.

What advice would you give to aspiring DJs? Go for it! Don’t get stuck in the idea of what a DJ “should” be. One great thing about Freeform Portland is there’s room for all types!

Most memorable live show? During my 100th episode, I had a bunch of Freeform folks come down and play records with me. I love collaborating with other DJs, so this was a special treat! You can hear the episode on Mixcloud.

Outside of radio, what are your other interests or hobbies? I love tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) and I write/publish content for the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG. I also enjoy playing guitar and going to shows! Of course, record collecting is at the top of my list of favorite things to do too.

Tune in to Static + Distance every
other Sunday from 10 am – 12 pm.

“It’s a Nice World to Visit”: Eight Years at Freeform Portland

When Freeform Portland first broadcast eight years ago, at the beginning of April 2016, it changed the Portland radio landscape for the better. My first show was April 5 that year, and I’m happy I was part of the initial schedule.

I chose “It’s a nice world to visit” as my radio show name because it reflects a less cynical nature. Over the years I’ve tried my best to honor that ideal. As circumstances in my personal life have changed, my show has moved to a few different days and time slots. You can hear it now every Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Jeff Ross in the studio

I’ve made a commitment to the station and more importantly, the listeners: I endeavor to do a new show every week. When you tune in at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, you’ll hear two hours of music selections that aren’t the same as the prior week. The show I present has no higher purpose than to be entertaining. If you happen to tune in to my show, and crack a smile, tap your foot to the beat, enjoy a segue from one song to next, or hear a song you might never have heard before and are intrigued by that song, well then, I’ve done a good job.

Freeform Portland broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has a full schedule of all sorts of music, presented by a number of volunteer DJs—emphasis on “volunteer.” Everyone at Freeform Portland volunteers their time, energy and knowledge by choice, because they want to.

My time at Freeform Portland has been my best experience in radio because of the people who are dedicated to making great radio, and a great radio station. The volunteer nature of the station is one of the best aspects, as it helps to ensure that there are always new voices and ideas coming to the station, adding new shows and diversity of sounds for our listening audience.

I’m among a handful of people who were a part of the first schedule and remain with the station. And I hope that years from now I’ll still be a part of Freeform Portland. I’ve loved music since I was a small child. And as I collected music, I learned the joy of sharing music. Thank you everyone who has listened to my show and supported Freeform Portland over the years. It’s truly you who makes it possible for me to do my weekly show, and for that I’m extremely grateful and appreciative.

Listen to Jeff Ross’ “It’s a nice world to visit
on Saturdays from 2 – 4 p.m.