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The "DJ's from Hell" show was a college radio program which aired from the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology throughout the early 1990's. It wasn't necessarily best show on the air (sometimes even by KTEQ standards). The DJ's were never formally trained; but, they learned by trial and error while on the air. The underfunded station's worn equipment sometimes didn't work right. But, the DJ's did the show without pay and loved doing it. The show brought its own distinctiveness to the KTEQ airwaves. The purpose of this web page is to document the show and to reflect on a good experience shared by many friends.
The "DJ's from Hell" show first aired on the morning of January 20, 1991. The show ran weekly on Sunday mornings from 12am to 3am, following the long-running "Shawn and Jeff Show" on the SDSM&T college station, KTEQ 91.3FM in Rapid City, South Dakota. The original DJ's were Shawn Stickler and Christian Morris, two fifth floor residents of Palmerton Hall.
The show's format could probably have been described simply as alternative, punk, or even underground. However, Shawn was always the non-conformist, refusing to be shoe-horned into any category; so, he preferred broader definitions along the lines of "rock." He always disliked the other terms, partially because he disliked the way the popular media was rapidly changing the definitions of those other terms. But, the show's music style had to be communicated to the general public via the KTEQ semester schedule. Thus, "alternative" was selected as being the closest commonly-used term applicable to describe the music played on the show. In other words, it was a "necessary evil."
Some of the early bands played on the program were Bad Religion, Black Flag, Danzig, The Dead Kennedies, Ice T and Body Count, King Missle, Lard, Monsula, Mudhoney, Naked Raygun, the Offspring, Pegboy, the Pixies, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, TSOL, the Vandals, and Neil Young. Shawn frequently referred to the music stylings of Naked Raygun and Pegboy as "Chicago Rock;" since both bands were from Chicago. Once, he even went on the air to dare his listeners to convince him that Neil Young wasn't alternative.
One of the first shows was aired during the start of the war in the Persian Gulf. The show featured air raid sirens between the songs and tongue-in-cheek dedications.
However, this was about as involved with current events as the show would ever become. For the most part, the show was about good music, and featured occasional on-air humor. Some of the humor was rather obvious; but, some of it involved a lot of in-jokes known only to the DJ's and their friends from Palmerton Hall. An example of the latter would be Christian randomly going on the air to blurt out the word, "Strumpet!"
With the start of the fall 1991 semester, "The DJ's from Hell Show" became "The DJ from Hell Show" with the departure of Christian Morris, who transferred to another school. Shawn started this semester doing the show alone.
Another fifth floor resident by the name of Brian Hass had been interested in doing college radio ever since high school. He learned about KTEQ while applying to attend SDSM&T. However, KTEQ's several month long absence from the airwaves in the late 1980's forced Brian to focus his energies elsewhere. By the time KTEQ returned to the air, he was already too busy doing other things.
However, Brian's interest in doing radio remained. Being able to go up to the studio with Shawn presented Brian with a great opportunity to become involved. Brian originally went up for a look around at the station. However, these visits to the station quickly became a weekly ritual; and, Brian helped pull albums for Shawn. This led to Brian's first live guest appearance on the show on October 20, 1991 at 3:00 AM.
When Shawn left for home over the 1991 Thanksgiving break, Brian remained at the Tech campus to perform some lab work. However, he was free during the show's weekly time slot. When early Sunday morning came, Brian went on the air solo for the first time and became full fledged "DJ from Hell."
Brian added a bit of his own touch to the show. He played bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Wall of Voodoo. Once in a while, he even managed to smuggle a DEVO tune or two onto the air. However, he shared much of Shawn's taste in music; and, many of the bands played during Shawn's absence were unchanged.
However, Shawn and Brian differed in their musical selection in some other ways. Shawn tended to avoid the overplayed bands at all costs, regardless of whether or not he liked them. Meanwhile, Brian often played whatever he felt like; although, he did tend to avoid anything that had moved to top 40 radio. Also, Shawn's choices tended to be a bit on the harder side; and, he had a greater preference for some rap than Brian did. The fact Shawn tended to get more calls for requests seemed to indicate that his musical preferrences were a bit more popular. However, the show seemed generally popular overall and was quickly becoming one of the more established shows on KTEQ.
In the spring of 1992, the weekly show went on hiatus for a semester. With the help of Jason Dries, Brian did manage to air one edition of the show in another show's time slot on February 15, 1992. However, as far as the station was concerned, this was basically just a time slot filler. And, "The DJ's from Hell Show" would not make a more established presence on the KTEQ airwaves until the fall of 1992.
During the fall 1992 and spring 1993 semesters, Shawn and Brian continued to do their weekly "DJ's from Hell" broadcasts from the KTEQ studios. As soon as the popular media labeled bands like Nirvana as "grunge" and played their music to the point of exhaustion, "The DJ's from Hell Show" quickly moved away from that type of music. Instead, the show explored other types of music. And sometimes, they played more humorous bands; such as Fish Karma, Happy Flowers, and King Missile. Overall, the 1992-93 year was a successful one for the show.
SDSM&T connected to the Internet for the first time in the fall of 1992. Brian Hass was a user of the system at the time and came up with an idea while reading KTEQ's schedule in SDSM&T's campus newspaper, "The Tech." During the 1993 spring semester, Brian went to the Computer Networking Services on campus and arranged for KTEQ's schedule to be made available on-line for the first time ever. The schedule became available on SDSM&T's computer, "silver;" and, students could call it up by simply typing "KTEQ." This was done during the Internet's pre-web days; and, the format was very simple and basic. But, some users commented on how handy this new feature was. Brian proposed the idea; and, the CNS programmers got it up and running.
The schedule could be accessed by anyone using the internet. However, for anyone with accounts outside of silver, accessing the KTEQ schedule was a rather involved and tedious process. It required a series of FTP commands to go through the directories and subdirectories until reaching the one containing the schedule's text file. On the show, Brian did his best to explain how to do it. However, public internet access was still in its infancy at the time; and, few of the users within KTEQ's broadcast range were likely to have been interested in seeing the schedule.
As the spring 1993 semester drew to a close, Brian unknowingly made a farewell broadcast. The exact words were not recorded; but, they went something like this, "I'm going to be heading back home for the summer; so, I look forward to being back on the air in the fall." That was not to be. Brian never returned to SDSM&T that fall or since.
However, Shawn stayed with the show and continued the broadcasts for the next few years. The show's longevity was dwarfed only by that of probably half a dozen other shows at the station. Eventually, Shawn got his wish and was moved to a 6pm to 9pm time slot. The show ended after Shawn's graduation from SDSM&T.
At the present time, the "DJ's from Hell Show" has been off the air for a number of years; and, the DJ's themselves have been out of touch with each another for much of that time. Christian Morris did do another radio show at a different university; but, his current status is unknown. Shawn Stickler worked at a commercial station for a time in 1997, but is no longer working with radio. And, Brian is living in his hometown and is not doing any broadcasting.
However, Brian Hass is currently considering a possible return of some form of the program at a future date. This may occur on a radio station at either SDSM&T or some other college/university. Brian may also eventually do this in the form of a webcast, once equipment and time permit. But, this would probably be a solo effort; since, there is no planned long term reunion for the original DJ's who have moved on with independent lives. After all, the original show was just a part of their college experiences, not a career in itself.
Also, Brian has tried to encourage KTEQ to webcast its programming to listeners around the world. Neither KTEQ nor the Computer Networking Services of SDSM&T ever commented on his proposal. Eventually, KTEQ did start webcasting; and, this became critical when KTEQ stopped broadcasting over the public airwaves in 2000. However, the FCC granted KTEQ a construction license in May of 2011; and, the station was expected to return to the airwaves by the fall of 2011.