Doing Freakshow! full time for four months has been quite a eye-opening experience.  That’s not to say the show went poorly.  Quite the contrary, actually; I think that I really knocked it out of the park plenty of times, which is especially great for a show that came out of nowhere and was brought up into the majors at the zero hour.  That said, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can improve Freakshow! for its (hopeful) return in September, and I thought why not share it with you guys, the loyal fans who probably don’t even know this site exists follow every aspect of the show closely and whose feedback would be invaluable.

The mantra I’ve always held to since I started toying with the concept of a radio show two years ago is that the show is going to be all about the music.  A lot of shows primarily focus on having a strong, charismatic DJ that commands the airwaves and spends most of his time endlessly ranting between sets about incessantly boring or asinine topics; the show’s voice is that of the DJ instead of the type of music, and as such most of the music becomes completely interchangeable with every other show.  Perhaps in part due to my apathy for having to use too much brainpower at six or seven in the morning after sleeping for something like four hous, I wanted to break away from this cult of personality that surrounds the man on the microphone and bring it back to what matters – what people are listening for.  And so Freakshow! became about assembling the best, most interesting and varied sets of stuff I like interspersed with a couple minutes of talking about the last songs and whatever else comes to mind before immediately retreating back into music haven.  And I think it went incredibly well; I put out some absolutely awesome sets, and you shouldn’t be surprised to see some of those sets reused or reconfigured for future shows.  Yet, I think I went too far.  The setlists became longer and longer, until I had sets that took up half the show, and the required time I would need to talk would prevent me from even finishing the show without going over the two-hour time limit.  Planning the epic three-hour season finale was a sobering experience, as I crunched the numbers of my planned sets to find that not a single one clocked in at under an hour before I tried trimming as much fat as I felt I could; it was one of those moments where I felt like Dr. Frankenstein, throwing my hands into the air and crying “what has science wrought?” from the horror of my creation. And then, when I went on the air and everything seemed fine, I found that I kept getting the same complaint: the music was great, sure, but people didn’t understand why I wasn’t talking.  Maybe it was just that they got to me, or maybe I was enlightened or something, but even I started to get bored halfway into sets and started taking way more talking breaks just to stop the steady, neverending flow of music.

So that brings us here: what comes next for Freakshow!?  How do I take the lessons I’ve learned from this inaugural season and put them to improving my show in the fall?  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Pre-determined set lengths.  The show will aim to have 100 minutes of music, broken up into either four twenty-five minute sets or five twenty minute sets.  The remaining twenty minutes will be used for show openers and closers and talking time to be used as I deem fit.
  • Not so surprisingly, I want to talk more.  By forcing myself to talk on-air, even when I don’t want to, I’ll improve my radio persona and ability to command the mic with confidence and skill, and I’ll be able to get the confidence to try new things for the show, like skits or other random crap.  As for topics, I don’t think I need to have pre-determined sections (much as I enjoyed “The Drop” and the running gag of Kidz Bop 16, there just simply isn’t enough albums or concerts coming out per week to have a section discussing cool new releases), but I should definitely find interesting things to discuss and have at least some idea of what I’m talking about.
  • Reach out.  Obviously this includes advertisers, as WTBU would very much like it if I brought them some money, but I also want to reach out to bands I like and other talent that I think people should know about and bring them on the show.  Outside of feeling like a creepy stalker, I have no problem hanging out after concerts and talking to Electric Six and the Giraffes – why not ask them to step up to the mic for a one-on-one recording session?
  • And finally, and perhaps most importantly: I need to stop neglecting this site.  The age of John neglecting his blogs ends now!!

Thoughts?