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Andy Culkeen: a Trent Radio veteran

This past Monday, I met up with Andy Culkeen, a seasoned veteran of Trent Radio to talk about, well, Trent Radio. Although he hadn’t been inside Trent Radio house in the past three years before I saw him there on Monday, he was previously a programmer, operator, and even secretary on the Board of Directors. I was happy to have the chance to ask a member of a former generation of Trent Radio some impromptu questions, even through my post-reading break brainfog.

So, have you ever heard anything beautiful at Trent Radio?

Culkeen: Oh, many things. Something beautiful about Trent Radio is you hear it, and then it’s gone, and you’ll never find it again. I’ve heard many beautiful things at Trent Radio. For example, my sister used to run a show and she would use the remote key, which plays, like, the previous four-and-a-half seconds or so on a loop, and she would do, like, spoken-word/noise/ musical art. Occasionally, it was really, really, really stinking good.

She just layered her own voice on top of itself, and I think she’s a very talented singer, and that’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard at Trent Radio. Also, it’s not beautiful in the classical sense, but [in] the way that you learn a lot from your programmers while you’re operating – they open up all kinds of new doors to musical genres and experiences that you’ve never considered.

Are there specific kinds of opportunities Trent Radio provides for people that they might not otherwise have access to?

Culkeen: Well, like, take today for example. I’m not on the operators-at-large list. I am the last back-up of all back-ups. My sister couldn’t make her operating shift today so she called me in.

She was, like, “Andrew, I know you know how to do this, I know that you are capable, I know that you are competent, and I know that you are rusty, but it’s Trent Radio, you’ll be fine.” I haven’t been at Trent Radio for three years. But I’m getting an interview right now! Because I showed up to cover someone’s shift. It’s nuts! Trent Radio leads to bizarre, fun places.

One of the ways people’s legacies tend to live on at Trent Radio is through the Station IDs that are played on air at the top of every hour. Were you involved in the creation of any IDs in your time?

Culkeen: Yes, Anthony Gulston’s “The Microphones Work” ID. We had a power outage one night in the middle of my programme and Anthony Gulston was my operator at the time. We were all in a panic and we had gone to the off-air programming since it just automatically clicks over when the power goes out so there’s no dead air.

When everything came back on, we were booting up the computer and just, like, killing time checking the microphones, going, “Check mic one… the microphone works. Check mic two… the microphone works… (in sing-song voice) Check mic three… the microphone works!” And that was Anthony Gulston, and it got turned into a station ID.

That’s a pretty classic ID. Lastly, Andy, what would you want to tell somebody who hasn’t yet been involved in Trent  Radio to let them know about the kinds of experiences that can be had there?

Culkeen: Well, Trent Radio is a great space. Always remember CFFF: Fuck it, Forget it, and Forge ahead, and, as per the station ID, nobody’s listening and nobody cares… you can mess up. It’s a learning experience; you’re there to get your feet wet. And you can screw up, that’s okay… you can’t really break it. You can’t break Trent Radio.

You have an opportunity to get your interests out on the air and get your voice heard, and get your tunes out there, and just take the things that you love and share them with people.

It’s great. I mean, I got brought back here after a three-year hiatus and I solidly screwed up twice today. Seasoned vet over here, and I just screwed the pooch! But you know what? Nobody noticed, and nobody cared. Fuck it, forget it, and forge ahead.

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