Thrash Thursday (Special Friday Edition): An Accidental Eulogy

I first heard the term “Thrash Thursday” back in like 1990 or so.  There’s a radio station in Indianapolis (which used to be based out of Bloomington)(to be clear, the radio station used to based out of Bloomington, not the city of Indianapolis) called “92.3 WTTS, World Class Rock”, and they more or less play what you might expect with a name like that – plenty of John Mayer, Sarah McLachlan, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones (I will admit that I love her voice, and I still own her first album, although I haven’t listened to it in probably 10 years), Dave Matthews Band, etcetera, etcetera – you know: safe, boring shit.  They do play quality music sometimes, usually in the form of Led Zeppelin, The Who, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, Queen, David Bowie, etcetera, but by and large, they are boooooring.

When I was a young pup, though, they were different.  They were still WTTS, at 92.3 on your FM dial, but back then, they called themselves “Rock 92” (after a brief stint as “Power 92”, which I’m guessing they decided sounded too much like a religious station), and for a kid in the pre-internet days, who grew up without cable TV and lived pretty much in the middle of nowhere, they were awesome.  They had the “Rock ‘n’ Roll House Party” all-request show every Saturday night, and my cousin Jason and I would tune in most weekends and hear plenty of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Dio, Def Leppard (we both loved Pyromania), Aerosmith (from back when they were relevant), etcetera, meanwhile always hoping that we might hear Iron Maiden or Metallica or something of that nature.  One Saturday night I called in to request something, and I asked the DJ (Sam Stock) if he had any Death Angel.  He immediately responded, ” Fuck man, I wish“, which I thought was so cool, but then I didn’t know what to do.  (For the record, I think I ended up asking him to play “something by Led Zeppelin”.)

What the fuck were we talking about?  Oh right, Thrash Thursday.  So another super-rad thing that Rock 92 had was a show called “Brave New World”, which ran from midnight to 1:00 AM every Monday – Thursday.  Sam Stock hosted that show as well (which was why I thought he might be able to play Death Angel on the Rock ‘n’ Roll House Party), and it was chock full of stuff you wouldn’t hear on other stations at the time, especially in the listening area.  I honestly don’t know what kind of songs were played Monday through Wednesday (although I do know that Mondays were called “Mayhem Monday”, and I think he played punk and punk-influenced stuff), but every Thursday was “Thrash Thursday”, and I listened every chance I got, often taping it so I could listen again later.

The format wasn’t always straight thrash metal, though I do remember hearing Overkill, Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer on the show.  Thrash Thursday on Brave New World was my introduction to Morbid Angel, Upsidedown Cross (a weird Boston-based doom metal band which once featured Dinosaur Jr’s J. Mascis on drums, as well as the late Seth Putnam from Anal Cunt on bass), Napalm Death, and many others.  One Thursday night, Stock played a Jello Biafra spoken word segment called “Grow More Pot”, which got so many complaint calls the next day that he was forced to make an on-air apology the following Thursday.  I was confused, amazed, and scared by many things while listening to that show, and I also found out about some really great music.

At this point, I don’t even remember how long the show aired…it probably wasn’t a terribly long time, as 92.3 was a country station until 1986, became Rock 92 in 1988, and adopted its present format in 1992.  The impact it had on my life, however, has been pretty longstanding and significant.  And while researching for this entry, I learned that Sam Stock died in Colorado Springs, CO (where he was working as a DJ) in 2005 at the age of 35, with alcohol and cocaine listed as the cause of death, and now I’m weirdly bummed out.

I’ll leave you with a few of the songs I first heard on Thrash Thursday on Brave New World.

“Fuck You” by Overkill (from the !!!Fuck You!!! EP – 1987, orginally recorded by The Subhumans)

“Battalion of Rats” by Upsidedown Cross (from Upsidedown Cross – 1991)

“Chapel of Ghouls” by Morbid Angel (from Altars of Madness – 1989)

That’s all for today.  Rest in peace, Sam.  And to all the rest of you, stay heavy.  Always.

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2 thoughts on “Thrash Thursday (Special Friday Edition): An Accidental Eulogy

  1. Sam was pretty great. I lived in Bloomington during that era and ran one of the record stores on campus. Sam was frequently stopping by for something new to play on Brave New World and Thrash Thursday. Turned out we lived about three blocks from each other and we became friends. He spent many evenings at my house. I spent many in the studio with him—never without a cooler of cold ones—and did a few ident bumpers for the show. He was in his realm in the studio and loved everything about radio… except the company’s rules. I think he got fired from WTTS after a dead air incident. I don’t remember exactly.

    I moved from Bloomington to St. Louis in 1995, and then to Denver in 2000. It wasn’t long after that that I heard a familiar voice on my radio. Sam was back in his hometown doing what he loved at one of the biggest stations in Denver. He got fired from that job after he ran a contest that required a listener to fake having road rage. He lingered a bit longer doing Internet radio for Lycos and then I didn’t hear him any more. Radio personalities get fired a lot, so I figured he moved on to another market.

    I read of his death in Westword, the local Denver weekly. A decade later I’m still shocked by that news. He was a bright star.

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