Hey is for Horses

Becky and I spent ten years in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. During that time we got a lot of our music from radio station WPGU, 107.1, The Planet.

The Planet was our first experience with “alt rock”. It was a radio station that actually played the alternative music we enjoyed! It was on the Planet, back in the early 90s, where we first heard bands like Radiohead, Tool, Machines of Loving Grace, Manic Street Preachers, Beck, and the like.

One of the shows the Planet had was “Lunch”. From noon to one each weekday the host played a themed set of music. Sometimes the theme was obvious, like “transportation” or “body parts” (each song would have a reference to the theme in its title or lyrics). Sometimes the theme was a mystery and whoever called in first with a guess would win a prize. Sometimes the theme was just all songs by the same band. And on some Fridays it was “You pick the lunch”, where you could send in your theme idea and list of songs for a lunch and if it was chosen, you’d actually get to do the show with the host, Jay Schulman.

On November 18, 1994, I picked the lunch! We went to a lunch place on the corner of Green and Neil (I forget the name of the place) and Jay was there with the remote broadcasting stuff, and we ate, yapped, and played music. It was a way fun time!

This weekend when I was straightening up the office/geek room I came across a long lost gem. Jay had given me a copy of the playlist for the show. And here it is!

(Click to make it Meal Deal sized)

For those who can’t see it so well, here’s the list:

Hey Jealousy — Gin Blossoms
Candy Everybody Wants — 10,000 Maniacs
What’s Up — Four Non Blondes
Gepetto — Belly (note: “PRONOUNCED JE-PET-TO!!!”)
And She Was — Talking Heads
Low — Cracker
Radio Song — R.E.M.
Mrs. Robinson — The Lemonheads
Don’t Dream it’s Over — Crowded House
Far Gone and Out — The Jesus and Mary Chain
Hot! Hot! Hot! — The Cure
Come Out and Play — The Offspring

My theme? “Hey is for Horses!” All the songs have the lyric “Hey” in them in some obvious fashion.

An amusing anecdote. In the later years of our stay The Planet became absolutely unbearable. At some point in the late 90s it was decided by someone there that Pearl Jam should be played at least once an hour. I’m not exaggerating; that was the schedule. I guess Eddie Vedder pulled the station manager out of a burning building or something. The Planet became stuck in this weird grunge time capsule of nothing but Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, and Soundgarden, with the occasional GRARG GRARG knockoff band. For a while there was another station that competed with them, focusing more on singer-songwriters and light alternative stuff (I forget that station’s name, but it was something stupid like “The Web” or “The Edge” or something) but before long that station was bought, its format changed, and now we had TWO testosterock stations to choose from.

Anyway, this is significant because when I showed up to do my lunch, Jay said, “Hey, we can do your lunch if you want, but also the new Pearl Jam arrived (probably not Vs. but the one after it, whatever that was) so we were thinking a Pearl Jam lunch would be good!” And I kind of shuffled my feet and said, “Man, I really wanted to do mine.” and he was all, “Oh, that’s cool, no problem!”

So maybe, just maybe, I somehow helped stave off the decline of The Planet for a bit longer.

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7 Responses to Hey is for Horses

  1. Lanf says:

    I liked Perl Jam from that scene in Blade. They were cool.

  2. Dave H. says:

    That’s cool and all, but I don’t care how well Four Non Blondes fit into your theme; “What’s Up” was the “We Built This City” of the 90’s.

  3. I still listen to the Planet at work on lunch. They’ve gone silly at times, but I like the newer format. They atill are predominantly alt rock, but have integrated older hit into the rotation, so every other song isn’t out of Seattle. The current lunch theme is Flashback Cafe where they play mostly 80s tunes. Sure you get Toni Basil every once in a while, but also every once in a while you get great tunes from the 80s like Bedbugs and Ballyhoo. To each his own on specific tastes and annoyances, but I still like it here. If interested, here’s the netstream for PGU you can pick up via iTunes: http://listen.wpgu.com:8000

    btw, I have won tons of crap from them over the years: 6 boxes of Cap’n Crunch, various concert tix, including an unexpectedly great show from Nickleback that made my ear drums bleed, 2 tix to Great America in Gurnee, 50+ CDs, a couple DVDs and other misc stuff. Good times.

  4. Stewart says:

    Great memories, Dave, and a cool playlist!

    I remember getting ticked off during the incessant sports reporting one summer, and calling them to chastise an “alternative” station covering mainstream sports in a nonstop fashion. I whined, “What about the Tour de France, the single most important international cycling event? Not a word about it from the Planet?”

    At the top of the next hour, they did a complete recap of the stage results from the Tour de France – in French! I was impressed… I even heard a few scattered updates from the Tour over the following weeks.

  5. Otro dave says:

    Back in the early 90s we had a servicable rock station. I mean, sure, it played crap but you’d also hear the Ramones, Jane’s Addiction, REM, etc. The DJs sis a similar lunch thing and most of them were pretty funny. Then suddenly around 2000 onward it was like all rap-metal and nu-metal all the time with an obnoxious right wing frat boy doing the morning show (they’ve had Carlos Mencia as a guest multiple times if this is a helpful barometer of sucktitude). I kind of hate being one of those “I only listen to college radio and NPR” types, but truthfully that’s about all there is unless I wanna listen to AM radio playing music we kicked Hitler’s ass to or Michael Savage (purely for entertainment value).

    Deliciously poppy 90s lunch you got there, gotta say.

  6. cap says:

    The old 107.1 is pretty worthwhile these days. By the time I came to town, they were in the “grunge time capsule” era–if they hadn’t yelled about how independent they were every 16 seconds I never would’ve guessed it. But when they switched it up to independent music (though they still play non-indie), it got to be more like college radio.

    Which is to say, absolutely horrible about 80% of the time.. But the other 20% more than makes up for it! : ]

    And really, I like the fact that they play a lot of different things. Some people love what I hate and vice versa. That makes for good radio. Wish I’d been around to hear your lunch. If you run across the audio some day, send it on over.

  7. tom says:

    Whoa, the manic street preachers got played in america?