Sunday, August 17, 2008

In Memoriam: The Campus 99.5 Megapost

It ain't over 'til it's over...

.:The End Of An Era - Campus 99.5: 23 March, 2008-14 August, 2008:.

Not since Chico and Delamar have I found myself this invested in radio. To this day, I still shake my head and ask myself how this could've all happened so soon. Just a bit over four months ago, Campus 99.5 came into the radio scene, promising something new with an old school flavor, and many were hooked. Hades, I drank the Kool-Aid.

But alack and alas, it wasn't meant to be.

This post will not pull any punches. It will name names, if needed be, and will not hesitate to give out details to prove a point. This is the story of Campus 99.5, however tragically brief the story may have turned out to be.

So sit back, relax, grab a bite or two, because this post is going to be pretty damned long. I was contemplating if I'd put pictures here, but I guess it's unnecessary. Just let the words reach out to you, and know that this was written from the heart.

The Resurrection: As You Believe!

I woke up on Easter Sunday to a text message from Jaybee, telling me to tune into 99.5, because apparently, she's back on radio. I thought it was just her, but upon listening and hearing the familiar voice of John Hendrix imploring me to "maintain this frequency", a chill ran up my spine: Campus was back, and I couldn't be more excited.

You see, when I graduated from college, I applied to many radio stations in hopes of becoming a radio personality. For all of one day, I was a member of Campus Aircheck Batch 3, since they weren't able to promise me anything at the moment in 97.1 way back in 2004. A day later, WAVE 89.1 hired me, and that pretty much was my home in radio land for the next three years. Despite that, I was still friends with most of the jocks from Campus, since I usually dropped by them, particularly when I had to go report to work for QTV-11. Jaybee was one of those friends I made from Campus Radio.

I never considered getting back into radio after my teaching stint with Reedley ended, and I was fine and dandy concentrating on my thesis and my mentalism/magic/hosting career, since it was paying off pretty well. But something about Campus coming back after all this time struck a nerve with me, and once again, I felt that radio wasn't done with me yet.

Without anything but pure guts willing me on, I did the rounds of the stations again: RX, WAVE, Campus, and even NU. NU was inclined to hire me albeit in a marketing position with only the on-air stuff as a second thought. Despite the fact that I had a sure shot in NU, I stuck it out with Campus, primarily because I was very familiar with the format, and of course, I had my thesis to worry about.

Campus, despite not giving me any promises, appealed far more to me. This was a station I grew up listening to before I discovered RX. This was a station I loved, and these were jocks I admired and respected. John Hendrix was very accommodating to me, and after a few weeks, I was given a trial run on air again...

Mister Vader: Akala...

So I was given a trial run, and my show came after the Brewrats, where I met DJ Tado and DJ Angel. I was hooked. I loved the feel of the station, I loved the fact that I could see John Hendrix, Jimmy Jam, Jaybee, Joe Spinner (That's a lotta J's!), and then reconnecting to Migz whom I got to know from Heart FM, albeit he had to change his name to Zack Attack. The other jocks who came from the Hit Squad were likewise amazing people, such as Joshua/Big Z, Neil Almighty/BoyToy, and Ron/Jagger.

My first on-air foray wasn't even my show itself. It was with the Brewrats, as they guested me. I felt welcome. I felt home again. I was at home in radio.

It was a great time for me. I was on air as "Mister Vader", and that meant I was using the name I've always been fond of using online for the longest time, and I was extremely happy about the fact that after almost a year, I was finally back on radio.

Unfortunately, that comeback lasted all of two days.

I expected that I might be taken aside and even taken off the air, but not *this* soon. I was, in a nutshell, told I wasn't "Campus enough", and that I had a lot of rust to work off, especially since I was way off with my ad libs and my voice quality. It was deflating, and it was certainly embarrassing, but I soldiered on, after taking about a week off to think about what happened to me.

Campus Aircheck: Susundan?

When the Station Manager, the Triggerman, broke the news to me that he felt I needed to reacclimate myself to being on air, and I sucked it in and took it like a professional. Over the next two weeks, I trained with John Hendrix on and off, but after a while, Joe Spinner took the initiative to really drill me as best he could. This meant that I would find myself training more often with Joe Spinner, until I ended up being paired with him regularly from 9-12 noon. He became my mentor in my time in Campus, and I will forever be grateful to him for taking me under his wing.

Meanwhile, I was having the time of my life, getting to know the other Campus Aircheckers, making me technically both batch 3 and batch 5. It was fun, because I met people like Deedah, Hazel, TJ, Gracey, Vanessa, Cherry, Matthew, Miguel, Vice, Czari, Sabs, Tabel, and eventually, Cat, and a few others who were sorta jocks but still technically Aircheckers, Piper, Alex, and Sharon Yu. We bonded, we laughed, we had fun, and we even had unforgettable moments of romance, intrigue, and action. Ask Iza and Arn. I'm sure they'd tell you.

I was rechristened "Sparky" thanks to Migz, and the going was good. It was acting like an elder brother to the Aircheckers I ran into, and I was standing in for training whenever the opportunity presented itself. I may not be an official jock on Campus, but I had years of radio experience under my belt all the way back from high school...

I felt like I had a new group of friends I'm very comfy with. We even started an "Aircheck Da Who" Multiply site, where we gossiped about ourselves, just because. It's hard to even believe all of this stuff happened in under five months.

The Redux: Back 2 Me!

En route to the Campus launch party, Redux, we actually got visited by Boo Kyler from 103 1/2 MAX FM, and he told us that we pretty much "kicked their @$$3$" in sales for that month. He congratulated us and welcomed us back, and for the next couple of months, it appeared we were doing well sales-wise. We were at worst, at number four (out of five), and at best, at number three. At least, that's how it was for a couple of months.

Yes, you heard it right. I wasn't fibbing when I said we weren't last in sales. Unfortunately, I can only speak for two months out of the four and a half that Campus was on the air. Can I spill this now? Well, I just did.

By the time we got to Redux, things were in full swing. I opened for the show with a magic show(!), and people were having fun in the party, as everyone from Zelle to Fuse to Callalily to Spongecola to Bamboo were performing. Needless to say, the night was electric, and despite any snags that may have occurred, the overall prognosis thus far was positive. Who could have possibly thought things were going to slowly turn sour, right?

The Necessary Pinoy Exchange Sidebar: Bakbakan Na!

The thread may now be closed, but Campus 99.5 went 164 pages on Pinoy Exchange before it finally wrapped up. There was a lot of stuff going on, and a lot of discussion in that particular thread, and even jocks like John Hendrix, Jimmy Jam, and Joshua chimed in there when they got the chance.

It's sad, because the lifespan of the station paralleled the lifespan of the thread: it was all ups and smiles until shortly after Redux, when it seemed a rift inexplicably began between the Campus listeners and the Brewsters, and I found myself smack dab in the middle of it, trying to pacify both sides and letting them understand that there was no conflict to speak of. People were making mountains out of molehills, and I took it upon myself to alleviate the tension in the thread, and at some point, even found myself being lashed out at for no good reason at all.

Shortly after the issue turned into a Brewrats vs. Boys Night Out debate which meant the Campus feud was all but forgotten, some users came into the Campus thread to ignite flamewars by insulting the jocks, calling them "old" and "baduy", and (at the time) falsely claiming that Campus was dead last in the sales. They weren't.

I stood my ground and called out any shenanigans, even getting personal insults thrown in my direction in the process, for acting as if I were a jock when I wasn't, and I saw them belittling my status as a Campus Airchecker. I avoided insulting them and just pointed out that it's their opinion, but there's no need to call anyone names, but the thread degraded into flamefests, and I was called many things I have never heard anyone call me in my life.

By the end of the thread, the haters were rejoicing, and instead of being angry at them, I only felt sorry for them. If their life revolved around whining against a radio station that is not actively trying to hurt them, and if they rejoice over people losing their jobs and kicking people while they're down, then I really can't help but feel sorry for them. I said my piece, left the thread, and just overall lost a little bit of faith in the human race there.

I conducted myself with dignity in the middle of people insulting my friends and my mentors. To me, it was personal.I took it seriously because I felt it was unfair how people were putting down the station when normal people just tune out instead of showering the thread with potshots. I was misquoted and made out to be a liar, but the truth will out, and at the end of the day, I know I have made a difference in that thread and made some friends, even.

Rev Up: I'm Yours!

When an opening suddenly showed up due to staff reshuffling, I found myself handling a show during the graveyard shift again. Despite the fact that I still had to identify myself as Aircheck Batch 5, the show for the people who "can't sleep, shouldn't sleep, or simply don't wanna sleep," Rev Up, was back. Yep. Same tagline as Insomaniacs way back in WAVE, I know.

For those wondering, no I wasn't on the payroll for this. Out of love for the station, I did it for no payment, although it was a tad problematic for me because I wasn't that financially well off at the time, particularly since I didn't have any shows in July. Despite that, I soldiered on, never mind what my circumstances were.

This was where I really bonded with people like Cat, Neil, and Gracey. I found my groove on the air again, and it was just great being able to host my own show again, and really ad lib through it. Quite a marked improvement over my last few months at WAVE, really, so I ran with it.

I have to say, given the 1+ month I had in that show, I acquitted myself well, and have lots of newfound friends and listeners to show for it.

Alack and alas, I ignored the signs that all this wasn't going to last...

The Beginning Of The End: Slippin' Away...

There are some things that happened behind the scenes that personally involved me that I'd rather not go over because I feel it's not my place to air out dirty laundry. Nonetheless, anyone who has me on LJ would probably know the details of it, and anyone who knows me personally would know what connections I had to offer and what transpired on that turning point (for me) in Alabang...

Having said that, there was lots of tension in the air, and I'll leave it at that. People didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things. The writing was on the wall, but the thinking was if the ratings did come, then whatever the case may be with the sales (I was, by end of July and early August, pretty much in the dark on this.), things would smoothen themselves over since it was going to be all good once the ratings back up the moves of the on-air staff.

I never even got to know how the station did. All I know is that like when the Triggerman took me off the air as Mister Vader, "I expected it, but not this soon."

The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams: Disconnection Notice!

I was hosting the wedding reception for Mark and Diane when I got a text message from the Triggerman...

"As of 5PM today, I am no longer connected with Real Radio 99.5. Thank you very much for your support."

Since it contained only a subtle indication that Campus itself was gone (Real Radio 99.5? Shoulda seen that a mile away.), I took it to mean that Triggerman resigned or was terminated from the company, but after asking Joe Spinner about it some more, I realized it was a freaking reformat. Since I wasn't on the Aircheck SMS shortlist, John Hendrix didn't tell me that Campus was gone (This, despite being asked to reiterate I'm from Aircheck every ad lib by the man... odd.). I found out for myself, and next thing I knew, wild speculation was flying all over the place.

"I heard they got fired!"

"I heard Triggerman resigned and the rest of the jocks followed suit!"

"I heard it was sales' fault. They didn't do their job."

"I heard the sponsors threatened to pull out if the reformat didn't happen"

"I heard the ratings were bad."

"I heard the ratings were good, but the sales were still terrible."

"I heard this, I heard that."

"Haha! Sparky, you just got FIRED!"

"How can he be fired when he's not even HIRED?!?"

"Goodbye, Campus. We're going to miss you."

"Hooray! Campus is dead! Long live RT!"

In a span of a few hours, I was almost literally swimming in details, both real and fabricated, from all sides involved, even those who really weren't involved, but wanted to pretend they were. To this moment, I don't know what to believe. All I know is that it felt like a punch to the gut, and it was almost full circle from when I thought only Jaybee was back in radio to when I thought only Triggerman left the company... I didn't see the whole picture until I really sat down to think about it...

And by then, when I listened to the radio, all I heard was music. No jocks. No nothing. Just plain music.

Campus 99.5 was indeed gone too soon. It was the end of an era, however short-lived it may have been.

The Aftermath: It Will All Get Better In Time...

I've come to terms with the recent developments, and am at peace with myself with how I have conducted myself in the months I have been under training in Campus. I don't have any regrets with giving my time freely and voluntarily for those months, and I feel no anger over the end of an era yet again.

On a personal level, I am not slighted over losing a "job". It wasn't mine to lose, to begin with. All the service I have rendered was a labor of love not just for the Campus format, but for the radio industry as a whole.

On behalf of my fellow Aircheckers, though, I would just like to remind everyone else that the people who were affected by this are real people. Resignation or termination or whatever the case may be, these are people who have hopes and dreams, families to feed, and are no different from you and me.

For the life of me, I can never comprehend why people would take personal happiness from people losing their jobs, or in the case of Aircheck, having their hopes and dreams dashed. While all this may be temporary, it's as real and true as it can get. As I talk to my other fellow Aircheckers about what happened, I feel the genuine sadness over what has transpired. Real feelings of people who truly and personally invested themselves into the station.

I hope the people who laugh and point in the middle of the tears being shed by my fellow Aircheckers can sleep well at night, knowing that they revel in the suffering of another human being. I, for the life of me, cannot wish such a fate on even my own worst enemy.

I came into this all those months ago with much excitement and happiness for the return of Campus. I never once used this as an opportunity to compare them with Hit, or put down any other jocks, mainly because I respect the legacy of Hit and RT as a whole, all the same. How I felt about Campus had nothing to do with what I thought of the previous station's format.

I went on-air for all of two days as a DJ trainee before I was told I wasn't "Campus enough", and while I could've picked my ball up and went home from then, I decided to soldier on and train under Campus Aircheck, despite having been a jock in another station for three years already. I turned down an offer from another station with a radically different format because I wanted to do what I can to help Campus, even at my own personal expense.

I went through the unpleasant experience of the flamewars on PEX between Campus listeners and Brewsters as a pacifist, until finally we realized there was no reason to fight, to begin with.

I tried remaining a pacifist as people actively began to not just criticize, but demean the station, all the while respecting their opinion, but calling out any shenanigans when it comes to inane speculation, and baseless accusations.

I took it all in with nary a sweat when I was insulted for no good reason other than I dared to respond, to clarify. Truly, I was fighting city hall.

I took it all, personal attacks and everything, because you know what? I love radio too much to let some troll or flame-baiter sully my mood.

But when some of the closest friends I've made in the last five months are breaking into tears over what happened, and when I think of those who choose to laugh and kick us when we're down, I realize that this is something I can no longer take sitting down. Just know that if you are rejoicing now over what has happened, you are building your smiles on the tears and broken hearts of many people.

I will always treasure the things I learned from Campus, both good and bad.

From the many times I've been corrected by the person I look up to as my mentor, Joe Spinner...

... To the eye-widening things I learned about the industry from Neil...

... To the crazy antics I've had with my Fellow Aircheckers...

... To the wasak moments I had with the Brewrats...

... To the Rickrolling fun with Jaybee, Alex, and Piper...

... To the radio stories swapped with Jimmy Jam and Dada...

... To the hi-bye's with Nana...

... To the yet-to-be-delivered promise of a hook-up courtesy of David...

... To the fun conversations with Joshua and Ron...

... To the sunshine that was Lee...

... To the John Hendrix (And often, Jimmy Jam too!) impersonations...

... To the "High School Musical" tripping with Migz and his christening me "Sparky"...

... All of this is what made me feel so alive the last few months.

Even the times spent with sir Gener, sir Cherry and the other technicians, and everyone else in the office was nothing short of memorable.

To the people who rejoice over the apparent demise of Campus 99.5, I sincerely pray for you people. May you never find yourself in sad times and have people laughing in your face when you need a helping hand the most. Nobody deserves that. Despite all you have done, I will never wish that upon you.

And with that, my life will go on, wherever it may take me. If I could do everything over again, I'd still have chosen to go to Campus 99.5 despite knowing what I now know.

This post is dedicated to all the people, from jocks to office personnel to fellow aircheckers I've encountered in the months I've been with Campus 99.5. Whatever happens, you all have been a significant part of my life and of my growth as a human being.

So long, and thanks for all the fish! I know we'll still see each other again!

One Last Song: Saludo, by Six Cycle Mind

This song goes out to everyone in Campus 99.5. I wouldn't be here right now if I didn't love you guys. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for all of you guys. Thank you so much for everything, thanks for bringing the Campus back into our lives, if only for a while. Sa inyong lahat, saludo ako.

For the people who can't sleep, shouldn't sleep, or simply don't wanna sleep, thanks for Revving Up here on the number one hit music station in Metro Manila, Campus 99.5! This is Sparky, a proud member of Campus Aircheck Batch 5, signing off.

by Six Cycle Mind

May bago kang liwanag
Isang dalangin
Pag alanganin sa takbo ng buhay

Punong-puno ng galit ang magulong paligid
Nakaya mong magtimpi
Lahat ay may ginhawa sa taong may tiyaga
Natuto kang sumabay

Saludo ako sa‘yo
Saludo ako sa ‘yo

Bawat araw, bawat oras
Punong-puno ng pag-asa
May kalungkutan sa iyong damdamin
Hangad mo ay magandang bukas

(Repeat Refrain)
(Repeat Chorus)

Ilang umaga man ang haharapin
Kapiling ang mga dalangin
Bawat pagsubok na babanggain
Ligaya mo ang aking nais
Bawat lungkot na sasaluhin
Tinig mo ang aking awitin

(Repeat Chorus twice)

(Repeat Refrain 4x)


Niko Batallones said...

Hey Sparky! As if I need introductions, it's Niko from PEx. Reading this is as interesting as it should be.

As always, I'm not really in a position to speak much, but as someone who followed the station throughout its achingly short lifespan - both as a listener, albeit occasional, and as the guy who unintendedly started the home of perhaps the worst flame war on the PEx music forums - I hate to see it go. I always thought it would last partly because its a format listeners loved (even I initially was averse to it), and I was one of many who thought that it would bring some much-needed stability to the frequency that was home to what some consider a legendary radio station.

It's sad to see that things haven't gone as they should be - or, in my point of view at least, wasn't as perfect as it seemed to be. Things are (very) complicated indeed... I dunno what else to say, honestly.

So, although I haven't really met many people because of my following the station's pursuits (except perhaps for the folks at PEx and some of the DJs, when I auditioned for Aircheck and eventually wrote an article about it), I'll have to say good luck to everybody; it may seem a bit bleepy for the moment, but as always, I'm sure (and I hope) everybody finds their rightful place.

Also, I hope the best for whatever will take 99.5 MHz in the coming months. It may be sad to see Campus not being given a chance to prove itself for much longer - I might be wrong, as always - but if it's to give audiences more choice, then I'm all for it.

As Dan told me the morning of August 15, "...and so it goes."

Hope to hear from you again soon, Sparky, and I hope you'll still be telling us stuff back at the forums... :)

Anonymous said...

Very well said...We'll miss hearing from you guys...

Forever RT

Forever HiT

Forever Campus

"From the darkness of the tunnel comes the light shining at the exit..."

Consider this a gift for the time you shared with us listeners:

Kel Fabie said...

@Nikko: Thanks for reading the post. I know it was incredibly long, and I didn't know how best to end it, but I just wanted to let the people in Campus know that whatever happened, they were still a significant part of me that I can never forget...

@James: Thank you so much. I will always treasure this.

Anonymous said...

hey, sparky...

i didn't know you were part of aircheck batch 3 even for just a day...sayang, magkakasama sana tayo noon sa LS! hehehe...

anyway, seriously...i guess i've said my piece over at PEx about everything that transpired. i'm still trying to get over it myself, really, especially because after having been trained at LS by the major chunk of the guys you had worked with at 99.5, i would think that i had become loyal to them...i owe these people my introduction to FM radio behind the scenes, and just as it was sad for me to say goodbye to them after the first LS reformat, and later, hear about them being booted out of LS, it is sad to hear that they--all of you--were gone in fell swoop, as sir jimmy once put it. and like a lot of people, i thought that the transfer to 99.5 would finally be it for the campus format...

but then again, just as niko says, all the best for DWRT, whatever it may be called and however it would sound like in the next few weeks, months and years. as for the campus format, it was great while it lasted, and it was even greater to be "back home" again. and for everyone who had been part of it (including you), "good night and good luck."

i myself hope to hear more from you, still, soon...but i'll definitely miss your two or three-song theme sweeps on CCW...hehehe!

Anonymous said...

What a sad way to end =(

Thank you to you and the rest of the campus air crew

Anonymous said...

will miss you on the air sparky, specially the early morning kulitan sa plurk :D

anyway, best wishes on your plans.. see you around!

Anonymous said...

That sucks, i was in the office on August 14 listening to FemmeFM and Jaybee saying that the big Z is just late and then I realized after an hour or so that there is no dj talking. I was thinking there's something wrong with the station..

Its sad to see(hear) the station I tune in to everyday at the office oo, nakakabastos talaga because Alex and Jaybee said that they would continue their discussion about the John Mayer-Jennifer Aniston break-up the next day..even they didn't saw it coming!

Campus 99.5 is a memorable station to me 'cause it is the first station I ever visited, I was in the Brewrats episode where Hard Gay visited (yep, you were there Mr. Sparky!).. recently, i start to chat with Alex over the YM to send my greetings, request and informed them about the thing going on at PEx..

I felt your dedication for Campus, like you, I grew up with Campus specifically with John Hendrix.. sayang talaga..cause I feel really at home listening to these djs,.. I still think you guys are doing a great job with the station.

Now my question is..will there be another incarnation of Campus? Pero alam ko na ang sagot: no one knows..ika nga sa brewrats, "move on let go"

Anonymous said...

It was all of a sudden, with this it is an end of an era indeed.

May I add also that Campus DARED TO BE DIFFERENT, in an age where iPods/MP3s rule and nonsense blabber is now prevalent especially in FM radio. Campus succeeded in bringing back the true essence of radio broadcasting -- les talk, more hits -- in its almost-five month existence on the airwaves.

Thanks for the memories Sparky, the rest of the Air Force and the Aircheckers, and thanks for that unparalleled brand of entertainment only Campus delivered, in these changing time...

Thank you so much, Campus! Saludo ako sa inyo!

Kel Fabie said...

@Dan: Thanks for commenting. You and I know more than most other people how it feels to lose Campus at a point where we love it the most.

@Forg: Like anything in life, you can never say never when it comes to radio.

@Anonymous: Thank you for the kind words. I do hope Campus lives on, but everyone else will have to move on in the meantime, regardless. The Campus jocks didn't survive between LS and RT by moping around...

@Rey: Thank you. People like you remind me why I've loved radio all my life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you okay no more radio again I'll miss Campus 99.5 men 4 months of great memories.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey I read in Pex that Campus would be back come 2009 and that you were shortlisted by John Hendrix & The Triggerman to be part of the resurrected and all0new Campus Radio?

Hope to hear from you again soon on radio Sparky...will be marking 2009 for this! :D

Kel Fabie said...

@Kevinkun: You're welcome.

@Rey: Look out for my post on this. I just got some word about it...

Ron Knight Banzagales said...

Hello Campus people... please read this related article.

Kel Fabie said...

This "article" is a little bit outdated. Campus is back, albeit online, and I'm a regular fixture on RT's morning show now.