On December 25th, 2018, from midnight to 4:01am, WMNF DJ Ira Hankin hosted a very special event on his weekly show The Event Horizon.
WMNF is a community-sponsored radio station based in Tampa, FL. According to many of the volunteers and DJs at that station, it is "Tampa Bay's LAST LOCAL RADIO STATION."
The Event Horizon is a program that airs every Monday night (well technically TUESDAY MORNING) from midnight to 4:01am (yes, it actually ends right at that time). The show specializes in more freeform eclectic programming, ranging from garage punk to industrial to twee pop to death metal to outsider folk to harsh noise ...and everything in between.
You really never know what you're gonna get from song-to-song, and that's why it remains one of my favorite programs on WMNF.
The host of the Event Horizon is Ira Hankin, who is originally from Maryland and has served a long historical stint in San Francisco at their KUSF station. He's interviewed many greats in the field, including Holger Czukay, Lemmy Kilmister, and the members of Faust.
Ira, on the origins of White Noise Christmas:
"White Noise Christmas' first broadcast was on the now defunct University of San Francisco's KUSF 90.3 FM. That was X-Mas 1992.
I only started at KUSF 6 months earlier but quickly everyone there became a new family to me. Many of us DJs hung out together of course going to shows but also bike riding, protesting doing all kinds of things together in San Francisco in the early 90s.
So Christmas was approaching and there was an unfilled air shift at midnight as Christmas started.
My memory is real fuzzy on who actually came up with the idea to do a three hour noise show and call it White Noise Christmas. But all of us DJs that had nothing else better to do that evening piled into the small radio station studio and played everything that was available (2 CD players 2 Turn tables and three reel to reel players) producing noise, feedback and general chaos for three hours.
Someone from the station's publicity department sent a press release to the newspapers in town announcing the 'White Noise Christmas Special.' And the San Francisco Chronicle gave our 'White Noise Christmas Special' a listing in their radio schedule listings... And as I remember it, the listing said:
'December 25th at Midnight White Noise Christmas on KUSF 90.3 FM featuring Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.'
I'm not really sure where they got the Metal Machine Music from but we started out with it for a few minutes before it became even purer noise on the airwaves.
From time to time over the years KUSF did subsequent White Noise Christmas Specials, probably the most recent one was in 2002."
Ira no longer has reel-to-reel players at his disposal, so to compensate, he went on various computers and had each one play a different audio track (usually from YouTube or Bandcamp) in true 21st century schizoid collage fashion.
Early on, our friend Mullarkey called in to perform their set (as Watchable Wildlife) via phone. Mullarkey was not able to be there physically so they literally phoned their set in. Minimal ambient Casio tones permeated throughout.
Up next was Apoc Siren, the solo industrial noise project of Justin Gazmask. Justin is an employee of WMNF (and not a volunteer like 90% of the station) and was even kind enough to share his mixer with some of us to plug into the board (myself included).
I performed next, under my own name. My set consisted of a looped keyboard melody (probably in some odd time signature, not unlike Devo's "Gut Feeling") with distorted improvisations on top. My sources varied from the hum of the keyboard to a bowed dulcimer that I found in the front lobby to field recordings from my Sony ICD-PX470 recorder, to me singing into aforementioned recorder while the record button is still on.
Following that set was a collaborative set between local improv percussionist Meghan Eliza, Justin, and myself. I mostly stuck to messing around with the dulcimer for this set.
There was a bit of downtime after that: Ira played more sound collages and portions of the last White Noise Christmas (from 2002), while the rest of us went to the back lobby to get some coffee and eat some of the broccoli and asparagus casserole that Meghan brought in.
After the break, Vallam busted out some bass-heavy drones, industrial rhythms, and samples from some tapes and records (including a Chipmunks Christmas record) that they had modified.
Whitey Alabastard followed up with a set of harsh noise and dynamic vocal manipulations. Every set Whitey does is always different from the last and this was no exception.
The final performance of the night was another collaborative piece, this time between Vallam, Whitey, Meghan and myself. We wrapped up ten minutes before the top of the hour and had our equipment cleared out in time for the host of the next show to start.
I had an amazing time and was honored to be part of this monumental event. Thank you again to Ira and everyone who played. It's a great way to cap off 2018 for sure. I'm looking forward to White Noise Christmas 2029!
You can listen to the most recent broadcast of
The Event Horizon here:
Or you can listen to WMNF online anytime!:
— Dylan Houser, December 27, 2018
I started recording "noise music" in early 2004, completely unaware of any "scenes" or other individuals doing this sort of thing. A lot of lo-fi recordings on a portable tape player, oftentimes guitar or bass feedback drone and delay.