24 Hours of Live Radio: An Investigation into the Human Psyche

How far would you go in the name of radio?


16683403_1366130580125332_1967463096_n
Photo: / Nina Solis

A tiny, too–warm room on the South Street bridge contains an audio mixer and two friends. No more than three songs in a row. No breaks. Here Harry Smith (C ’18) and David Reinis (C ’18), hosts of WQHS’s “Kickin’ It with Harry and David,” attempted 24 hours of live radio and lived to tell the tale.

While hosting a three–and–a–half hour show in July (a departure from their usual two hours), Harry and David floated the idea of staying on the radio for nearly seven times as long—that is, an entire day.

“Why stop at three? It was just one of those things that we said in the moment,” Harry said. “We thought that since it was funny, we should follow it through to its logical conclusion.”

***

Harry and David have been the official hosts of the two–hour “Kickin’ It” since the first semester of their sophomore year. However, they’ve unofficially hosted the show for a little longer than that; their origin story exemplifies what David calls the “wacky and ridiculous” character of “Kickin’ It.”

The two had wanted a show since the first semester of their freshman year, but their repeated emails on the subject never received a response through that semester and into their second semester.

Then, as Harry says, they took things into their own hands. David and Harry considered the schedule carefully, found a time during which no shows were scheduled and traipsed over to the WQHS station to successfully inaugurate “Kickin’ It.”

Their excitement was short–lived.

“We do it once, we see some guy there and we smooth–talk our way into it,” Harry said. “Then we go back a second time, feeling like we’re kings of the world—and then, an hour into our show, the former program director [of WQHS] walks in and scares the living shit out of us.”

Harry and David faced no consequences, but—spooked—they stayed away from the studio for the rest of the semester. The two friends officially applied to host a show the following semester and were victorious at last. Now radio veterans, they had no issues taking control of the station for their self–titled “24–HOUR SHOW EXTRAVAGANZA.”

The idea for the 24–hour show stemmed from a realization the two had during the July show about what Harry terms the “runner’s high” of radio. “When you hit the two– or three–hour mark, it becomes more natural,” David said. “It’s goofy fun.”

However, in the course of this extravaganza, the two quickly found that at some point beyond nine hours—when the windows are dark and sleep deprivation begins to kick in—radio ceases to be goofy fun and begins to be something completely different. David half–jokingly describes part of the motivation of the show as “getting to the bottom of what it is to be human"; Harry calls it “mania” and “pure emotion.”

At a certain point, the emotional impact of each moment magnifies. What might be small joys in life become major accomplishments. “I nearly started crying at the sunrise,” David said. “It was the joy of seeing the sun again, of reaching a landmark—and I’d been promised chicken biscuits.”

 “When the sleep deprivation really started to kick in, I started to forget where I was,” Harry said.

It wasn’t all highs and lows, though—mostly due to the fact that it was rarely just David and Harry in the room. Both attest that the continued presence of friends and fellow radio hosts was indispensable in their 24–hour journey of survival. David extrapolates this realization to their regular two–hour show. “Guests are super important, generally,” David said. “We can do an all–right show by ourselves, but most of our best ones feature somebody else.” 

“If anything,” Harry adds, “it was a production of teamwork.”

***

***

Harry thinks he could do a show of 12 hours, but for better or for worse, “Kickin’ It” won’t likely see a 24–hour segment ever again. David occasionally entertains the thought until Harry corrects him—but he’s quite serious about who he thinks should do a 24–hour show next. As the new station manager of WQHS, he proposes requiring every future incoming station manager to subject themselves to the same ordeal.

“I want somebody else to know what it’s like, to share in this pain—this totally voluntary and constructed pain.”

Go to WQHSradio.org to tune in to “Kickin’ It with Harry and David: The Harry and David Show, featuring Yours Truly, David and Harry” on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.


arts, essentials, front page, frontpage, Philadelphia, radio, WQHS

Related Articles


Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in 34th Street Magazine.