Big hair on the air: ’80s rock returns on Wilkes radio

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Laura Preby

Justin Franiak/Iggy El Gordo, Matt Gaines/Jarret Steele and Kyle Wolfe/Chad Dallas are the stylish hosts of Hair Metal Monday on 90.7 WCLH.

Bill Thomas, A&E Editor

They call themselves Chad Dallas, Jarret Steel and Iggy El Gordo.

Those aren’t their real name of course, but that hardly matters. Like Axl Rose and Nikki Sixx before them, they’ve recast themselves as gaudy avatars of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Also, Aqua Net.

Together they prowl the airwaves like predatory jungle cats clad in old leather and ill-fitting spandex. Unleashed in their wake are the musical stylings of Quiet Riot, Poison and W.A.S.P. Surprisingly, though, this isn’t Friday night on L.A.’s Sunset Strip, circa 1985. It’s Monday afternoon on River Street in Wilkes-Barre, 2013. Based on the music coming out of your stereo, you’d be forgiven for making that mistake.

The ‘80s, it seems, are alive and well on the third floor of the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center. From there, in the 90.7 WCLH radio booth, Dallas, Steele and El Gordo – really Communication Studies seniors Kyle Wolfe, Matt Gaines and Justin Franiak – bring a little glam to NEPA via their show, Hair Metal Monday.

“It started out as a joke and then, little by little, it came together in pieces,” Wolfe says, explaining the origins of the show. “I remember at Club Day I was looking at the notes for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Shenanigans show (see sidebar) and literally the notes said ‘Chad’ and ‘Dallas,’ so that’s where that came from.”

Gaines and Franiak’s monikers were similarly random creations. In truth, as if intentionally embodying the carefree party-hearty spirit hair-metal represents, the whole show is a more or less random creation.

“Everything is kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, really spontaneous. A lot of the stuff we just come up with on-air,” Franiak says. “If it works, it works. If it sucks, we just don’t do it again. Like the Aerosmith thing.”

The Aerosmith thing?

“We played Aerosmith on our first show and we got a caller who was not happy,” Wolfe explains. “They complained that Aerosmith wasn’t heavy enough for Metal Monday, so now we don’t play Aerosmith unless it’s a state of emergency.”

“It’s become a running joke now,” Gaines adds, laughing. “’Welcome back to Hair Metal Monday, where we don’t play Aerosmith.’”

Aerosmith faux pas aside, the glam-banging trio says Hair Metal Monday has been very well-received since it debuted last semester, despite its stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb status in the midst of the death metal, thrash metal and metalcore that’s long dominated – and still does dominate – the majority of Metal Monday.

“The first show we ever did, we only did it for an hour, just as a trial run,” Wolfe says. “We figured it would never get past one show, just thinking there’d be so many people saying ‘This isn’t real metal. This is hair metal. This is supposed to be Metal Monday.’ But we got about ten requests, and only one disgruntled caller, the one about Aerosmith. So we went for another hour. Literally half of our show is just requests. We have loyal callers who call in every week, and a lot of people make requests on the Facebook page.”

For Franiak, a student who’s been a part of WCLH since freshman year, the positive reception Hair Metal Monday’s received is more than just a happy accident. It’s a sign of a larger evolution for the radio station as a whole.

“The thing that’s cool about the fact that we can even have something like Hair Metal Monday and have people like it is that it’s just part of things becoming more diverse,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of new people coming in, a lot of eager freshmen, and just this semester a lot of new shows. A lot of specialty shows. There’s alternative, classic rock, Top 40 stuff. … I think it’s healthy for the station to get that breath of fresh air.”

When speculating the reasons behind Hair Metal Monday’s success in particular, the trio cites the aforementioned sense of spontaneity (“We once talked about the Hulk Hogan sex tape for the entire show,” Wolfe confesses), as well as the fact that show is able to cater to an audience that otherwise goes largely ignored.

“The only other hair-metal radio show I know of is Dee Snider’s ‘House of Hair,’” but that’s a syndicated show throughout the country,” Franiak says. “We always make the joke that we’re the No. 1 hair metal show in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

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In addition to Hair Metal Monday, 90.7 WCLH has a number of original radio shows hosted by Wilkes University students, for Wilkes University students, with even more coming soon. Turn on, tune in, but don’t drop out …

MONDAY

Hair Metal Monday

From 4 – 6 p.m. see modern-day Wilkes-Barre transformed into 1980s Los Angeles with a non-stop barrage of Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Dokken and other glam metal greats. Hosted by Chad Dallas, Iggy El Gordo and Jarret Steele.

Metal Massacre

From 7 – 10 p.m., DJ Massacre assaults listener eardrums with a volatile mixture of screamo, death metal and nu-metal. Or, as he likes to say, “stuff you’d punch a baby to.”

TUESDAY

Staten Island Joe & Franiak Show

Grab some lunch and brush up on your sports news with Staten Island Joe and Franiak during the creatively titled Staten Island Joe & Franiak Show. From 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.’

WEDNESDAY

Rock ‘N’ Roll Shenanigans featuring Corey & Andrew

“Shenanigans” is right. Don’t expect dry conversation or deep life insights here, as DJs Corey and Andrew play a random mish-mash of ‘80s and ‘90s alternative while talking about whatever nonsense passes through their heads. From 2 – 3 p.m.

Vital Vinyl with Klassic Kurtz & Matty-G

Take a trip back in time from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. with Klassic Kurtz and Matty-G as they spin an eclectic mix of classic rock and blues the way it was meant to be heard, on actual vinyl records.

THURSDAY

Staten Island Joe & Franiak Show

Grab some lunch and brush up on your sports news with Staten Island Joe and Franiak during the creatively titled Staten Island Joe & Franiak Show. From noon – 1 p.m. Didn’t I already tell you about this?

The Beatdown

The WCLH radio booth becomes one-part mosh pit, one-part Octagon from 7 p.m. until whenever host Jake feels like going home. MMA talk and punk rock into the wee hours of the night.

FRIDAY

The Morning After Show with Chelsea & Laura

Order up a cup o’ Joe and try ignoring the hangover headache pounding in your skull in the company of DJs Chelsea and Laura, as they spin a crazy-quilt combination of indie alt and nostalgic throwback favorites from 9 – 11 a.m.

Tony G. in the Evening

The always opinionated Tony G. speaks his mind and plays an expansive mix of alternative music. From 5 – 7 p.m.

SATURDAY

The Saturday Show with K-Dubs, Captain Kevin, D-White, Suitcases and Father John

Throw on a pair of tight jeans and start slam-dancing with K-Dubs, Captain Kevin, D-White, Suitcases and Father John for this overstuffed auditory orgy of emo, screamo, post-hardcore and, uh, Barry Manilow?!? From 1 – 3 p.m.

SUNDAY

Soulful Sunday with DJ Pistol Pete & DJ Ambs

Smoooth. That’s the only word to describe Soulful Sunday with DJ Pistol Pete and DJ Ambs, where you can get your eardrums lovingly massaged by the sounds of modern and classic soul and R&B music. From 6 – 8 p.m.

Channel the Chill with Matty-G & DJ Lissa

Let Matty-G and DJ Lissa help you unwind from 8 – 10 p.m. with spaced-out surf rock for mellow minds. Music you can relax to from various eras.