Deadthyme: A KPFT Show That Goes WAY Underground

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90.1 FM KPFT’s Deadthyme program is the radio show in Houston for non-corporate, underground punk, industrial and goth, including their various subgenres such as death rock, post-punk, hardcore, grindcore, and many more too numerous to mention here. Deadthyme comes on late Sunday nights/Monday mornings — starting Mondays at 2:30 a.m., to be exact — but as Jason Beck, creator and host of the show, explains, “It’s not the next day until you wake up!”

Beck has been hosting the show since May 2005 and says the reason it comes on so late is that a lot of the bands he plays have curse words in their songs, and KPFT has a rule that music containing such words cannot be played on the air before midnight or after 5 a.m.; the FCC has actually established a “safe harbor” between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

When I asked Beck what kind of people listen to his show every week, which can be heard on the Internet as well as on the radio, he responded, “Insomniacs, mutants, farm animals, vampires, punks and people who work overnight.” I assume he was joking about at least some of those listeners; the good news is if you work a normal schedule, you can always listen to the past five weeks of shows on demand here at any time. Beck says that he has gotten emails from listeners as far away as England, Japan, Finland and Russia who listen to the show online.

As for how he came up with the name of the show, Beck says, “Thyme is like an herb or a spice, and it’s kind of a play on 'bedtime,' since the show is on in the middle of the night, so Deadthyme is like the spice of death — I guess it would fit better on a Death Metal show, that name, but that’s where the name came from.…I was going to call it Chem Lab at first, just because I mix all these different kinds of music, you know, from punk, goth, industrial and just kind of weird stuff like Negativland and stuff like that.”
Among Beck’s favorite bands to play on his show are The Accused, Septic Death, Napalm Death, Godflesh and Dead Kennedys, though he emphasizes that he tries not to play the same stuff all the time and tries to mix up his music selections every week. Beck also plays a lot of local bands as well as groups from all across the globe, not just from the U.S. and Europe, which he says is a very important part of the show.

“I’d say 90% of the music I play is from my own personal collection and 10% is stuff people send me,” Beck explains. “I own maybe 7,000 CDs and maybe 2,000 records if you include the 7 inches and albums. To DJ, I really prefer CDS because they are easier to use, but I like records fine.”

“I play at least a few brand-new things every week and a pretty decent amount of stuff that has come out within the past year, and I play about 60% older stuff and 40% newer stuff,” Beck continues. “I really like that older stuff, and people like to hear it. The newer stuff is easy to find on the Internet but the older stuff, people might have forgotten about it, and I like to expose people to it. I mean, half the bands I play are like some kids from Czechoslovakia who got together and put out 300 copies of a 7-inch record back in 1989 and I still have it and I’m playing it on this radio show.”

Beck discovered a lot of the older bands that he plays on the show back in the '80s and early '90s when there were tons of magazines and fanzines from which you could order underground albums through the mail; he laughs when he recalls how back then, he used to just stick cash in an envelope and mail it off, hoping that he would receive what he'd ordered. Beck also came across bands at Houston record stores Sound Exchange and Vinal Edge back in the day, as well as at local shows; he particularly took a liking to the smaller, more obscure bands that opened up for the bigger, more popular ones.
Speaking of Vinal Edge Records, owner Chuck Roast hosted a program similar to Deadthyme called The Funhouse Show back in the '80s, and Beck actually got his start with KPFT back then when as a teenager, he would get friends to give him a ride down to the station, where he would bring records to play on Roast’s show. Later, in the '90s, Beck hosted an hour of punk stuff right in the middle of KPFT’s metal show Sweet Nightmares, which Beck has hosted, co-hosted and guest-hosted on throughout the years; he did the same for a similar KPFT program called Ejacula. Beck notes that he started off as a fan pledging to the aforementioned Funhouse and Sweet Nightmares shows before he ever joined them as a DJ on the radio.

Beck plans on hosting Deadthyme for the foreseeable future. “As long as people still support it and the radio station still wants it to be here, I will continue,” Beck concludes. “It follows the Pacifica mission statement so as long as people support it, I think it will have a place here.”

Deadthyme airs weekly on Monday early mornings starting at 2:30 a.m. on 90.1 FM KPFT and online at kpft.org

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