88.1 KDHX DJ Spotlight: bobEE Sweet of Uncontrollable Urge
A native of St. Louis, bobEE Sweet has been broadcasting on 88.1 KDHX for a decade. His current show, Uncontrollable Urge, has been on air since 2006, and its host plans to keep on rocking for many more years. In this interview, we discuss the history of his show, his connection to KDHX and his life in St. Louis.
To hear more from bobbEE, listen to Uncontrollable Urge on 88.1 KDHX on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon Central.
Becky Chanis: Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell me when you first came to KDHX and what brought you to the station?
bobEE Sweet: Well, way back in the late ‘80s when they were first doing some of the planning work for it, I was in high school and this guy I know’s dad was involved with the station. So we went out and dug around with the transmitter a couple time and did some grunt work a few days.
Then I went off to school and came back, and just was a regular listener, a member, and worked the phone drive and membership drive for several years. 2001 was when I started doing — they were calling it the Morning Show at the time, and there was a guy named Roy St. John, who had been doing it five days a week. He had stopped doing [his show] and so the programming committee at the time was like, “Well let’s make it more like the rest of the week and the rest of the days, where every show is different and its not the same person.”
They were trying to do teams, and so me and this woman Mary Kay — we didn’t know each other — we got put together, and we did a show together for four or five years. I think five years, we did it together. It went from being called the Morning Show to When the Levee Breaks, and then shifted times by an hour here or there. We were mostly on from 6 to 8 in the morning. And then I think it was ’06 when I started doing this show, Uncontrollable Urge. That first started from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, and then it got move to where I am now, 10 to noon.
So what made you want to do your own show?
We were always kind of friendly knocking heads over what we wanted to do, or running out of time, or we each wanted more time for more music. And I think that the programming committee also realized that our tastes were different enough that it made sense to have two different shows than to have one.
I listened to your show and it seems to be this very eclectic mix of a lot of different genres and a lot of different time periods. How would you characterize your show?
I don’t know. (Laughs) I knew you were going to ask me something like that. I usually tell people it’s mostly a rock show with elements of some folk and country, and I lean towards punk and some poppy-er stuff and psychedelic stuff.
How’d you come up with the title?
Well, it’s the name of a Devo song. I kind of wanted [the show title] to be a song title. I was originally on after Afternoon Delight and I was on before the Big Bang. [I decided to] carry on the sexual innuendo thing, after an afternoon delight, you get an uncontrollable urge and then you have a big bang. I was coming up with names independent of that idea, but it also just worked.
And how do you go about preparing your playlist for the show?
I’ve been using my computer more over the years, but just putting songs together in different ways and seeing which ones I think work better together. I usually have a pretty good template of what I’m going to do. I always run out of time before I play everything I was hoping to play, but there’s also requests or something comes up and I decide to do that instead. There is a little bit of grabbing records on my way out the door or finding something in the new release stack and I think, “Well I should play that.” So I don’t have to stick to [my playlist], but I like having it in case I get into trouble.
Moving away from KDHX, can you tell me about what you do with your time outside of KDHX?
I work at Black Bear Bakery. I spend a lot of time there baking and cooking for Saturday brunch, and [do] office work and other things like that.
I heard that Black Bear is an anarchist bakery. Is that true?
It’s a collective bakery. Not everybody who works there defines themselves one way or the other. It’s based on principles of collective, cooperative [work]. It’s a mix of doing it for fun, for money, [and] because they’re stuck doing it I guess. (Laughs) You get roped in and then sucked in for life.
When’d you start doing it?
The late ’90s. Longer than I’ve been on the air.
I had a couple more questions to ask, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.
I’m a grandpa. That’s my other main past time.
How many grandkids?
Just one. Well, actually that’s not true. We have three now. Our mom recently married, and he has two kids. So now we have three grandkids.
You’re a St. Louis native?
Yeah, grew up here. Well, I was born in Michigan, but my parents were from here and moved back here.
What do you think your favorite part of St. Louis is? What do you think is one of the things that keeps you coming back?
The sort of pedestrian-friendly / mobility-friendly things. There’s a lot of sprawl involved, but it’s still a small enough place that you can do your own thing. I basically like the environment. It’s been a little hot the last month, but I don’t mind the hot summers and semi-cold winters.
What is your favorite thing about KDHX?
It’s part of my daily life. Just the diversity of music and the exposure you get. There might be things that I listen to all the time but I never go out and buy it. Getting to hear it a little bit here and there or getting turned on to stuff.
I like the community involvement, even if it’s kind of small in terms of the percentage of the St. Louis-area population that’s involved. It’s always been diverse. If you ever do a phone drive, you’re going to meet all different kinds of people. It’s not going to all be old hippies or weirdo hipster kids. A broad variety of people are interested in KDHX.