It’s SNAP! | Not fictitious
A collaboration between the producers of KCRW’s UnFictional and Lost Notes podcasts, Bent By Nature is the distillation of hundreds of hours of recently discovered archival recordings from the late-night radio show “SNAP!” “, Which aired on KCRW from 1982 to 1991.” BREAK! ” was a free-form musical program hosted by iconoclastic DJ, Deirdre O’Donoghue. And most of these now legendary shows haven’t been heard since they first aired … until now.
Bob Carlson of UnFictional, then a young sound engineer, mixed and recorded many of these live performances early in his KCRW career. Over 30 years later, Carlson and co-producer Myke Dodge Weiskopf (Lost Notes) digitized and restored O’Donoghue’s personal archives, consisting of hundreds of reel-to-reel tapes, DAT recordings and cassettes. While they were working, they discovered that the tapes were starting to tell a story. They formed a kaleidoscopic portrait of O’Donoghue and “SNAP!” which has become a hotspot for alternative and independent music and culture in Los Angeles, and a beacon for the vast underground network of artists who have appeared there.
“She helped create the very idea of ââlive music on radio, and this idea that music was a world of like minds,” says journalist Robert Lloyd. “She was from that time when personality was part of the package.”
O’Donoghue’s love of music, combined with his imposing and alluring personality, drew dozens of bands and musicians to the show. They were invited to spend the night in KCRW’s dark and atmospheric basement studio. There, O’Donoghue was the den mother, offering tea or a pinch of tequila hidden under the console. She encouraged her favorite artists to play long, wild and sinuous sets and improvisations live on the airwaves. Among them were Syd Straw, Glass Eye, REM, Vic Chesnutt, The dB’s, Concrete Blonde, The Dream Syndicate, Downy Mildew, The Go-Betweens, Blue Airplanes, The Jazz Butcherâ¦ the list goes on (and more). Many were still relatively unknown in the real world, but in the “SNAP!” Universe, they were superstars.
âIf she liked your music, it was like she had a crush on it,â Straw recalls of her.
Behind the scenes and off the mic, O’Donoghue was private and a bit of a mystery; she didn’t like her photo taken and always hid her face with a hat or scarf. She sometimes disagreed with her bosses at KCRW. After management told her to stick to the music and stop watching movies and “discussing the world situation”, she was fired by then station manager Ruth Seymour. , but rehired shortly thereafter.
âDeirdre was spirited,â said Tom Schnabel, former music director of KCRW and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic. “She ended up being very hostile towards me.”
O’Donoghue was also very protective of her show and refused to hand over her playlists to the music department, which created friction with the staff. She kept the record companies at bay, not letting anyone tell her what to play on her show.
âI hate categories for music, so I don’t like attaching them to things,â O’Donoghue said. âSo the closest we’ve come to call it here is ‘avant-pop’, which doesn’t mean anything, or ‘folded music’, which my GM doesn’t like. But, it’s a quarter to midnight, what is it? She’ll never hear that. Having said that, of course, she’ll be on the phone in two minutes.
O’Donoghue kept his issues private from almost everyone, and SNAP! was her own escape and refuge – a place to share what she called “inventive, imaginative and unusual new music” with her family of dedicated listeners.