It's the 20th anniversary of the April Fool's Day that Maura Johnston and I spent several hours on WNUR-FM in Chicago, pretending to flip to the all-Pearl Jam format "Q89.3." It was a parody of Chicago's alternative radio station Q101, and we jabbed at its playlist, its over-reliance on Pearl Jam and its cheesy DJ presentations. I first wrote about this in 2004:
Ahh, nothing says April Fool's like a cheesy radio stunt. Back when I ran WNUR in college (yeah, I know, another college radio story -- Mike, it's been almost ten years! Move on!), we freaked our listeners out on April Fool's by yanking our regular programming (you know, the usual college fare-- indie rock bands that you've never heard of) and pretended to flip the station's format to mainstream alternative.
We called ourselves "Q89.3" -- a dig at Chicago's big time commercial alternative station, Q101 -- and played nothing but Pearl Jam for an hour (another dig at Q101, which was so obsessed with the band it actually had adopted as its slogan "This Is Not For You," the name of a Pearl Jam song).
A friend and fellow DJ, Maura, pretended to be the hyperactive British DJ "Sammy Jo" -- a staple of alternative stations back then (and a parody of Q101's Samantha James) -- while I played the clueless DJ "Fisher Stevens" (a play on Q101's Steve Fisher), who thought everything was ooh, soooo alternative while rattling off obvious trivia ("Did you know that Kurt Cobain was the lead singer of Nirvana?!").
Some listeners called in and freaked out, wondering what happpened. Others were wise to the parody and played along: "Hey, you know that Red Hot Chili Peppers song you just played? Could you play it again in about 40 minutes?"
It was a proud moment. Illinois Entertainer magazine called our prank the best of the year.
I finally uploaded an edited version of our "Q89.3" moment -- listen below!
Embed Music Files - Play Audio - Q893 (WNUR April Fool's Paro...