On Tuesday, July 11, 2017, from 6-8PM, Barry Levine of The Bear’s Den will air his 800th show on KXSC. The Bear’s Den is the longest running show in KXSC history (it started in 1997), and Barry has been an integral part of our station since he showed up as an undergrad in 1996. We spoke to Barry about his 20 year run:
How did you initially get involved with KXSC/KXCR? What was the station like when you joined?
When I first came to USC in the fall of 1996, I already wanted to work in radio and I looked for the station almost as soon as I arrived. The station was not that much different; the ethos was quite similar to what it is now. However, in the early to mid 90s I'm told the station had a hard format from 8AM to 6PM during the week. That was mostly gone by the time I got there, but there were some remnants still there. 7-9:30 PM Monday through Friday was always electronica and 9:30 to midnight after it was always hip-hop the first three years I was there. That didn't change until 1999, when that was phased out. There hasn't been much "formatting" since then, but the music that dominates tends to change over time. Electronica was big until '99, then it disappeared for a while because all the electronica DJs graduated together (that was the class that formed dublab). It came back later and is again a large part of programming. Hip-hop has been pretty constant all along. There was very little Punk when I first arrived. Later, Pop-Punk and Emo became dominant at the station in the early 2000s, before falling off again. Sports has always had a busy department, but during my early years it was pretty separate from the rest of the station. It wasn't until about 2001-2002 that the sports director mixed a lot with the other managers. That was right around the time we started broadcasting the football games. The Live Show first started up in the fall of 2002. We started doing shows (concerts) regularly in 2001-2002 and KXSC Fest started in 2009.
How has The Bear's Den evolved over the years since its inception in 1996?
When the Bear's Den started in early 1997, I pretty much just played music, mainly Punk and underground bands I'd seen in clubs mixed in with older Punk and related music. Many bands I played when they were just starting out have since gotten big. I started spotlighting bands in the fall of 1997. I started interviewing bands regularly in 1998. The first live act performed on the show in early 2004. The first "Bear's Den Live" (bands that guested on my show performing together) happened at the Viper Room in 2012 (there have been four of these).
What has been your favorite episode of the Bear's Den?
Good question. Well shows with important guests come to mind. Dexter Holland was on the show once and we drew a lot of listeners that day. Other high profile guests have included Jon Anderson (of Yes), the three founding members of the Blue Man Group, Mike Dirnt for his side project the Frustrators (you might know him better for his main band, Green Day [yes, this really happened]), Oderus Urungus of GWAR a few months before he died, Milo Aukerman of the Descendents, Kevin Lyman who founded and runs the Warped Tour, Fat Mike of NOFX, John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, and many, many others.
The full list of Bear's Den guests can be found here on the Bear's Den Facebook page.
What do you love about college radio? What keeps you coming back for (800 episodes!) more?
Freedom. It's doubtful a "professional" station would let me do a show like this my way.
What is the secret to the success of KXSC's longest-running show?
Be sure to tune in to The Bear’s Den (6-8PM Tuesdays) every week, and especially this week! Thank you Barry for all you’ve done for KXSC - past, present, and future!