KDHX Volunteer Spotlight: Bass Amp
“Serious Journalism is a weirdo rock nonsense adventure hosted by Bass Amp! It’s punk, it’s soul, it’s ROCK 'n' roll and it’s Seriously Fun!”
Monday/Tuesday: 11:00pm - 1:00am
For Bass Amp, KHDX volunteer, DJ and host of Serious Journalism, a typical day starts as follows: “Wake up every morning and scream at the top of my lungs for a few hours so I can keep my voice buttery smooth.” After which, he explains, “I spend most of my time berating extremists on the internet, I devote an unusual amount of time to that.” As for the rest of his day, he adds, “I’m usually at home going through records, thousands and thousands of records.”
The bulk of this record collection, many of which are 45s, was inherited from mentor and friend to Bass Amp, the late Bob Reuter, who passed away in 2013.
A storied KDHX DJ and volunteer, when listening to his show, “Bob’s Scratchy Records,” one could count on wildly entertaining dialogue and more than a few moments of mayhem, all interspersed with plenty of good music. Much of the music may have been something you had never heard, pulled from his vast collection of scratchy records. Some selections Bob would spin could just as quickly be ripped from the turntable and tossed across the studio. Bystanders be damned. Though no longer in physical form, Bob’s DNA will remain a part of KDHX. A double helix – embedded. DJ, photographer, writer, musician…throughout St. Louis and beyond, Bob’s legacy lives on.
As far as personal background, this much is known of Bass Amp. Born in Rolla, Missouri, he was, as he explains, “the fattest baby born in the history of Phelps County in the year of 1982.” Weighing in at over 15 pounds, “I wasn't birthed, I was removed,” he says. Shortly after Bass Amp’s arrival into the world, the family moved to St. Louis, where they have lived since.
As a youngster, Bass Amp would watch Martha Quinn's Top 20 Countdown on MTV with his mom. This music video format had him take notice, paying attention to the different facets of music he was hearing and seeing.
“Mom was really into music,” says Bass Amp. “Whether watching videos or letting me choose what to listen to in the car.”
She also allowed Bass Amp and his brother to select many of her Columbia House Music Club cassettes. “I chose all kinds of crazy music based on the pictures,” Bass Amp explains. “Iron Maiden looked cool and that opened the door for ridiculous bands like KISS,” who Bass Amp once saw in concert at Kiel Center. His feelings after witnessing such a spectacle, “I thought it was a complete #%^*ing scam that you could get paid to play music!”
Not long after KISS though, Bass Amp discovered The Ramones. And after hearing their quick, fast, and heavy style of rock 'n' roll he thought to himself, “I could do this.”
Thus it was that at age 12, Bass Amp and his friend Dano decided they would start a band. This, of course, would involve learning to play instruments. So they listed the instruments most often used to make rock & roll on paper slips, tossed ‘em in a hat and gave it a good shake. Next they drew the slip of paper proclaiming which instrument each would henceforth be linked for all of eternity. Ironically, Bass Amp drew the drums, Dano, the bass guitar. No matter! Each intended to master their randomly chosen respective instruments. And thus…Bass Amp & Dano the band was born.
Come high school, they were a teenage band “writing and recording nonsense,” says Bass Amp. “Eventually though,” he adds, “we were booked for an actual show.” The billing made matters feel more official, and as Bass Amp explains, “we tried to do it for real at that point.”
Bass Amp first discovered 88.1 FM on the dial “stumbling upon ‘Bob’s Scratchy Records’,” he says, adding. “I dabbled in punk music at the time, but Bob played punk stuff I'd never heard.” Through KDHX, Bass Amp was exposed not only to “punk stuff” and ‘Bob’s Scratchy Records’, but also to many more styles of music from a multitude of artists played on other KDHX shows.
An admirer of Bob and a fan of his "Scratchy Records," Bass Amp, it seems, was destined to make acquaintances with the man himself. And when Bob was in need of a drummer for his band "Alley Ghost," who got the phone call, but Bass Amp.
Their kinship made through music was followed by friendship. An invitation to sit in with Bob during his KDHX show, though, was a unique opportunity and privilege. And, the DJ training required to do so now enabled Bass Amp to answer the air room phone, input playlists, and, as he puts it, “let Bob talk at me while side-kicking.”
To honor Bob in the years after his passing and on his birthday, Bass Amp and others saw fit to hijack whatever show then filled the former "Bob’s Scratchy Records" time slot. Says Bass Amp while laughing, “folks would call to make donations in Bob’s name every time we did this!” Other KDHX volunteers, and perhaps staff too, took notice of the reaction from listeners. “They were like… you need to do your own show,” he says.
In time, Bass Amp decided to call what he thought was a bluff, exclaiming, “pull the trigger right now, no red tape, no training, no orientation!” “The next week,” he adds, “they called and offered an open time slot.” Having completed the required training prior, he was primed, if not absolutely prepared. And just like that, Bass Amp was an official KDHX DJ and the host of a show which would pay tribute to the memory and influence of Bob, while also garnering its own base of fans and listeners.
“Serious Journalism,” Bass Amp explains of the show's name, is also courtesy of Bob Reuter and was originally the name of a band Bob had while living in Syracuse, New York when he left St. Louis for a time.
In addition to being a KDHX volunteer and DJ, Bass Amp spends a lot of time on the road. As a working musician, he averages 250 dates a year playing with several bands. Tours and travel have taken him to many places. As to where, he says, “Jeez…almost everywhere at this point – all of North America, parts of Europe, Japan.” “I’ll tell you this,” he adds, “everywhere, eventually starts to feel the same. St. Louis is better. I’m just working so I can get back home.”
Something about Bass Amp that may surprise people? “Oh, I don’t know…maybe that I’ve eaten a Reuben sandwich in 48 states! Though I’m still trying to get to Alaska and Hawaii.”
And for those who may still not know of KDHX, he says, “Where the Heck have you been? You're missing out, there’s lots of great stuff happening.” Adding “Folks should remember that KDHX is bigger than any one of us and requires great care from all of us.”
Before signing off, Bass Amp offered some last words. “I want to encourage musicians around town, regardless of style, genre, etc. to send your music to Serious Journalism, even if you don’t think it would be a great fit. My show is less of a genre show and more of a St. Louis show. You got music? Get it heard.”
First record ever bought?
The first album I bought with my own money was AC/DC's "Live At Donington" for some reason... I think I was 11?
Favorite newish band?
Currently, it's The Comedy Central Roast Of Rosie O'Donnell and The Centaurettes, both bands are from St. Louis!
Last live music show attended?
I think it was Maximum Effort at the Sinkhole. It's hard to keep track anymore.
Best live act ever seen?
Any band with Nato Coles.
Favorite KDHX Program(s), other than yours?
Bob's Scratchy Records, The Super Fun Happy Hour, Scene Of The Crime, Afternoon Delight, The Way Back Machine, and probably others… (none of these shows are currently on the air any longer)
Serious Journalism: Monday/Tuesday, 11 pm-1 am on 88.1 FM, or listen anytime at kdhx.org