The radio specialty show can be an underappreciated art form on the radio. Many show times air in obscure Sunday evening or overnight hours. Fans who tune into specialty shows are certainly devoted to that music’s genre and its host. There are well over 50 various specialty shows at Alternative radio from local shows to new music shows to electronic shows. Over the next several months, Alternative Contraband is going to celebrate the specialty show host and his or her passion that keeps them doing their shows at obscure times.
CD101/Columbus Tom Butler has that perfect specialty show pedigree as he also doubles as a buyer at a popular independent record store. Butler is the host of the 2X a week Independent Playground and also curates and hosts their local show Frontstage.
Get to know Butler as Alternative Contraband celebrates the underappreciated specialty show hosts of Alternative radio.
Q1. How long have you hosted Independent Playground? What other specialty shows have you hosted in your radio career?
Tom Butler -”I have been the host of the Independent Playground since 1999. I have also been the host of the local show, Frontstage, for 6 years now. I got my start in radio as the co-host of the New Music Garden (R.I.P.).”
Q2. Your show is on 2X a week. Are the shows always different?
Butler- “Yes. The shows are always different. When I was only on once a week, I always dreamed of being able to play twice the amount of music, so once it changed to twice a week, I’ve done my best to do two totally separate playlists. Songs get doubled up sometimes, but it is a different show each night.”
Q3.What impact does your show have on standard 24/7 airplay?
Butler- “The Independent Playground has been a breeding ground for the main playlist for years now. Artists like Interpol, Modest Mouse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio, Bloc Party, and loads more made their debuts on the Playground. That being said, it is not a new music show necessarily. Its an underground music show. Lots of the stuff I play would never make it to the main playlist.”
Q4. Do you keep past playlists? What are the top five played bands all time on Independent Playground?
Butler- “I do keep past playlists, but I don’t really know what the top 5 are. There have been so many bands over the last 14 years.”
Q5. Aside from being a lucky duck and getting tons of music mailed to you, how else do you find new music for your show?
Butler- “I am a voracious consumer of music. While I do get sent loads of stuff in the mail and email, I also troll blogs, message boards, and websites all day. I also work as a buyer at the largest mom & pop record store in Columbus, Magnolia Thunderpussy Records. As such, I really have to know my music.”
Q6. Do you feel the specialty show curator and host is underappreciated in America?
Butler- “Absolutely. It takes a ton of time and work to make an interesting specialty show. There are a lot of shows that seem to be mostly just new music testing grounds for radio stations, so I always appreciate shows that are playing obscure or out of the ordinary music.”
Q7. What specialty shows and radio tastemakers do you stay tuned in with?
Butler- “None. I have a bunch of label and promoter friends I try to keep up with, but I do my best to make my show sound unique. I like to read specialty charts so I know what everyone else is playing. That way I can skip over it and play something that no one is playing.”
Q8. Is the show always live? Tell us about listener response and feedback to shape your show.
Butler- “Unfortunately the show is usually voice tracked. It was live up until about 4 years ago when family and life needs made doing the show live difficult. It is still live from time to time.”
Q9. How do you create the feel and flow for each show? Is it tempo, genre, mood?
Butler- “It’s a combination of all 3 really. I like to group things by genre sometimes. Sometimes I like trainwrecks. I will play just about anything genre-wise, so you’ll get crazy segues between hip hop and country or black metal and indie rock.”
Here’s the playlist from Butler’s most recent Independent Playground:
*=Columbus area/local band
ZAMBRI – ALL YOU MAYBES (KANINE)
LED ER EST – THE GOLD CANE (SACRED BONES)
BUFFALO KILLERS* – GRAFFITI EGGPLANT (ALIVE)
BRIDESMAID* – BARNT STORMER (SELF RELEASED)
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED – HUMAN (PIL)
DEEP TIME – COLEMAN (HARDLY ART)
DIIV – DOUSED (CAPTURED TRACKS)
ROYAL HEADACHE – PITY (WHAT’S YOUR RUPTURE?)
SLUG GUTS – ADULT LIVING (SACRED BONES)
GRIZZLY BEAR – YET AGAIN (WARP)
JAILL – HOUSE WITH HAUNTING (SUB POP)
THE YOUNG – THE MIRAGE (MATADOR)
DAY CREEPER* – STRANGE DELIGHTS (TIC TAC TOTALLY)
MELLOW CRUISERS – PUNK CONFUSION FORMULA (BURGER / RECESS)
NUDE BEACH – CATHEDRAL ECHOES (OTHER MUSIC)
ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI – MATURE THEMES (4AD)
MILK MAID – YOUR NECK AROUND MINE (FATCAT)
BROKEN WATER – COMING DOWN (HARDLY ART)
BARONESS – TAKE MY BONES AWAY (RELAPSE)
EYE* -USURPERS (KEMADO)
JAIL WEDDINGS – GOOD BOOK (NEUROTIC YELL)
K-HOLES – DIRTY HEX (HARDLY ART)
ICKY BLOSSOMS – I AM (SADDLE CREEK)
DINOSAUR JR – WATCH THE CORNERS (JAGJAGUWAR)
REDD KROSS – THE NU TEMPTATIONS (MERGE)
NECROPOLIS* – ULTRAVIOLENT (COLUMBUS DISCOUNT)
ENVELOPE* – WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE TOGETHER (PALAIS DU POMEROI)
HANK WILLIAMS III – TONIGHT THE BOTTLE LET ME DOWN (CURB)
BOBBY WOMACK – THE BRAVEST MAN IN THE UNIVERSE (XL)
EVANS THE DEATH – THREADS (SLUMBERLAND)
Be a Facebook friend to Butler’s Independent Playground show http://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentPlayground
Thanks to Tom for helping Alternative Contraband get a new feature up and running!