Spare Change News
I walk up and down Boston’s Bedford Street three times, baffled and unable to find the building for Unregular Radio. A scruffy man in his early twenties with oversized sunglasses and shoulder-length hair emerges from an ally.
My first lead.
I retrace his steps and find a door with an “Unregular Radio” decal on the front. I walk up to the second floor studio and let myself in. I’m greeted by power chords and a hint of marijuana smoke.
It looks more like the living room of a punk rock band than a radio station. A small, college-aged Asian girl on a laptop greets me, as a band performs sound check a few feet away. I explain the nature of my visit.
“You probably want to talk to DAve”, she says. DAve Crespo (not a typo, he takes artistic liberty in the grammar of his name) shakes my hand. I strain to hear his soft voice over the clash of symbols, as he leads me into an adjacent room. He wears a T-shirt and ripped jeans showing more skin than denim. Reddish brown curls spill out of his red, backwards “MTV” hat and onto his shoulders. “We’re about to go on air,” he informs me.
I note a large glass water pipe in the epicenter of a circus of microphones. “Take a seat on that couch and sit in.” Before I’m fully situated, a husky man with a thick beard and a neon trucker hat with the logo of a middle finger on the front bursts into the room. I ask his name and he replies “I’m Dex-Mother-*******-Ter. You got a blow torch?”
DAve Crespo and Dex Ter (as his name appears on his business card), host the Boston Local Music Show for Unregular Radio, an Internet radio show with a cult following that features Boston’s hottest local bands. The radio station began in October 2009 under the leadership of John Loftus. A few months later, Loftus hooked up with Matt Lax’s independent record label F-Nice Records, bringing on board DAve Crespo of the local band After Party. He was soon introduced to comedian, hype-man, and entertainer Dex Ter. Dex and DAve explain the motive of the F-Nice / Unregular Radio merge and the origin of their friendship. “We were both pro-artist, pro-fan, and that’s how the industry should be. We had a similar mindset.”
Neither Crespo nor Dex Ter had any radio experience prior to Unregular Radio, although both men are well accustomed to the microphone. Crespo plays base and guitar for the Boston band After Party, and Dex Ter’s been entertaining since the age of 14, whether it be as a stand-up comedian, as a hype man, or as a clown. With the direction of the two friends, The Boston Local Radio Show has steadily increased in demand, and registered over four million viewers last month.
I reposition myself on the couch as the guest band, The Ryan Jackson Troika, finishes up a song in the next room. The host of Geek Beat Radio, a different program on Unregular Radio, takes a hit of weed. DAve switches them on air, and an exchange of raunchy one-liners, good-natured teasing, and music discussion ensues. An intern next to Dex packs another bowl, and the hosts pass it around. A sweet aroma permeates throughout the room.
The two DJs have natural chemistry, and a hilarious dynamic. DAve describes Dex’s commentary as “The red marker to my life.” They cover a wide range of topics, from local music, to literature, to Justin Timberlake. “JT brought sexy back without it ever disappearing,” Dex remarks. The verbal tangent extends to the discussion of sharks. “I don’t know why people are so surprised when there’s a shark in the water. They live in water. It’s when a shark moves next door that you need to be concerned,” Dex rants. “I’m more concerned with a shark in water,” Crespo argues. “I can’t swim very fast.” Dex continues, “They say turtles are slow on land, man, you should see humans in water.” Crespo pauses, “Except for Michael Phelps.” “Yeah, but he’s half dolphin.” Dex does his best imitation of a dolphin noise. “I think his uncle was dolphin.”
Their style of humor is raunchy, unfiltered, marijuana-infused, but most importantly, authentic. When Crespo cuts to music, and they switch off the microphones, Dex is exactly the same. He stands up with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. “I love my job,” he announces before exiting the room.
Later, he explains his consistent personality, on and off the air. “My friend told me she figured out my stand-up routine. It’s just Dex with a microphone.” Besides Dex, everyone at Unregular Radio seems to be, or has been, in a band. Liam, a 24-year-old intern from Nantucket, came up to Boston to attend Berklee school of music and now interns at Unregular Radio. Funnyman Dex argues that he, too, plays an instrument. “My instrument is the microphone,” he explains. “I play the crowd.”
Dex-Ter, “Head of Relations, Terrible Friend” (as his business card also reads), plays the microphone with no filter. In between sets he discusses how he is no longer allowed to use the “N” word. No one at the table seems offended, even the African-American intern to his left. After two hours of searching, Liam comes in the room with the coveted blowtorch required to smoke hash out of the water pipe. Ryan Jackson of the Ryan Jackson Troika listens intently as Dex explains the physics and chemistry of the complex piece. He describes the left over oil as “Activated Residuals.” “Spread that s–t on a starburst and you’re done. It’s almost too powerful. They call it heroijuana.” He takes a hit. “Delicious,” he remarks. He walks to the other side of the room to crack a window, revealing stencil tattoos of Moe Szyslack from the Simpsons on one calf and Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama on the other. “Those are my comedy and tragedy tattoos,” he explains.
Back on air he is unfazed by the hash hit. If anything, he’s deeper in his element. He accuses DAve Crespo of being so high on air the other week that he couldn’t talk. Marijuana Legalization stickers decorate the door to the studio. Liam the intern prepares to hit the potent hash pipe. “Be careful,” Dex warns with a laugh. “This **** may alter your perspective.”
Dex and DAve spend the rest of the day chatting it up with local bands The Ryan Jackson Troika and Answer Man. Dex wonders who in fact, is the answer man, because five people can’t be one man. “That’d be like having a band called ‘The Lone Rangers,’” he tells them.
After their show, I retreat into a back room to chat with the duo. Dex-Ter just turned 30 and hails from Rhode Island. He removes his trucker had to scratch an itch, revealing a bald head. DAve Crespo, five years younger, grew up in Melrose, Mass. He studied marketing at Emerson College, and he comments that his major helps him with the public relations aspect of Unregular Radio. The two discuss their view on the music industry, their genre of humor, and their marijuana usage. “Try to get a picture of us smoking on the cover,” Dex asks. “I’m doing whatever I can for the legalization movement. We were the first to make the cover of The [Boston] Phoenix smoking weed,” he boasts.
Their weed smoking doesn’t seem to interfere with their professionalism. “What you see is what you get,” Dex explains in reference to dealing with potential sponsors and promoters. “When you have all the chickens in the county, you don’t have to search for the fox. The fox will come find your ***.” DAve nods in agreement, aware of the station’s goal to mend the skewed priorities of a greedy music industry.
We segue into the finances of Unregular Radio. “I live on nickels, not dollars,” Dex explains. “I have enough to eat and pay my bills. Anything above that is extra.” Listenership is climbing, and their show seems to be the headquarters for local music in Boston. The future looks promising. Dex adds, “I learned I was successful when I changed my definition of success. Oh, successful means happy? Then I’ve been successful for nearly two years.”
PETER PROKESCH is a contributing writer to Spare Change News.