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audio: DJ “Gary Indiana” on WQAX-FM (“Quacks”), February 1981

Continuing my excavation of digitally archived college/community radio programs, I have found this nugget on the Internet Archives: a recording of WQAX-FM DJ “Gary Indiana” hosting a music show, circa February 1981.

WQAX cartoon

WQAX cartoon; more at url:

WQAX (aka, “Quacks” 100.3 FM) broadcast to Bloomington, Indiana as a cable station for two decades, from 1973 through 1993. The signal offered a free form, volunteer driven format. WQAX was so beloved to its listeners that various fan websites still sing its praises and remember its contributions, even though the operation is over two decades gone.

Quacks, one web page notes, “offered Indiana University students, wanna-be DJs, music maniacs, and local eccentrics a way to learn about radio. And it added, for a defined period of time, a yet-to-be duplicated brand of insanity to the local landscape.”

Here’s more, from a reminiscence by a former WQAX program director:

“It occupied its own little space, scruffy but feisty, hopeless yet hopeful. It had nutty weekend-long marathons; silly duck mascots; inevitable summer street dances at which the Walking Ruins, the Virginia Scrapings, or Frankie Camaro would appear like clockwork; and idiosyncratic locations above a garage on South Grant and in Kirkwood Avenue’s last tenement, the Allen Building. The membership was just as idiosyncratic, boasting at various times clean-cut rappers who claimed to be friends with Chuck D and KRS-1; assorted Spaceport urchins who liked to climb out the second-floor Allen building studio window; a lapsed Mormon with a suitcase full of death-metal tapes; punk rock girls and hippie chicks; grad school refugees and future law students.”

WQAX logoBut in the end . . .

” . . . the things that made WQAX so cool also did it in. Letting anyone join meant the membership endured its share of deadbeats and loose screws. Having a massive record library required a place to keep them and thus rent that came due with an unnerving regularity. Frequently, there was barely enough to pay the rent, light, and phone bills, since the station had very few steady sources of income. Occasionally the members passed the hat to make up the deficit . . . I can remember sensing that the station’s end was upon us. All but a handful of reliable station members were jumping ship. The red ink was rising. All else was disintegrating in power struggles, personality clashes, and general dismay. I quit while I could still see a bright afterimage, like the tail of a comet going across the sky, brilliant but directionless.”

It’s wonderful to have all this audio, imagery, and memorabilia online. BTW: WQAX had an interesting, sometimes symbiotic and sometimes conflicting relationship with what is now WIUX-LPFM, aka “Pure Student Radio” from Indiana University.

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