It’s not very often you live in a neighborhood with a radio station in your own back
yard. It may not matter to a lot of people as they are used to hearing stations coming in
from the other side of town or, in today’s case of limited locally produced shows, on the
other side of the country.
Another factor is if the station in question is either independent with actual people
running the place or one of those satellite stations that run on computers that sound
more creepier than Hal 2000.
Westchester is fortunate to have a local independent collage radio station within it’s
borders called KXLU-FM, which has been broadcasting from the compass of Loyola
Marymount University since its inception in the 20’s as an AM station.
Despite the station’s many years of service to the area, I wasn’t familiar, much less
aware of it, thanks to my radio preoccupation of Top 40 radio and Dr. Demento.
Around 1990, I was slowly beginning to sub-consciously pick up on things ‘tiki’, thanks
to years of bumping into those strange and cool “tiki”. The musical ‘Tiki’ aspects really
took hold when I began to bump into vinyl sides by Martin Denny at used record
stores like Second Time Around in Torrance and Rhino Records in West LA. At first, I
didn’t know who Martin Denny was, but the lady on the cover (Sandy Warner) was a
one serious babe!
Very soon, the potholes of the road towards lounge/tiki knowledge were about to be
filled in. I bumped into the radio schedule in the LA Weekly and it mentioned a radio
show on KXLU-FM that was playing “tiki records” on Tuesday nights and it was called
the ‘Molotov Cocktail Hour’. I decided to tune in and check this deal out.
I was sucked in instantly. Soon I began to learn many of those missing pieces of the
BGM in my youth and learned more names like Esquivel, Friends Of Dean Martin,
Raymond Scott, Karla Pandit, Julie London (another babe!!!) and so on. Add to the
advent of small press and publications like the late and great ‘Cool & Strange Music’
Magazine, I was way over my head with this exciting vibrant sound.
The shows hosts, Cyrano and Senor Amour, knew their material quite well and took its aesthetic and history
seriously. They also had a lot of fun with the show, too. The recorded introduction that starts each show warns the
listener that this was being broadcasted from the Mai Mai Room in Encino that is populated with Nancy Sinatra and
Tom Jones in heat and an army of insanely drunk Shiners and often their banter entertainingly went off the rails.
However, calling the program a ‘lounge show’ is too limited. The closest “format title” might be found in their ad from
an old KXLU program guide: “A finger poppin’ tail-waggin’ concoction of: Questionable Tastes, Nefarious Jazz,
Exotica, Mysterious Electronics, Sultry Vocals & Latin Rhythms.” Not exactly a simple description in today’s highly
homogenized and programmed radio, which is fine with them and the fans alike, like me.
Cover of some of KXLU's yearly schedule
programs from the mid-90's
MCH hosts Cyrano & Senor Amour mugging it up
The show's ad from a program
Considering the areas history with tiki apartment buildings and
related urban culture (check interviews with Stuart Swezey & Brian
King of Amok Books in the first Incredibly Strange Music book from
Re/Search Books and their liner notes for Rhino Records 1990 ‘Best
Of Martin Denny’ CD for details), this little show had very soon the
soundtrack to Westchester…..well, to me that is….
Soon, MCH wasn’t the only show on the KXLU airwaves that I ended
up listening to; the former Bomb Shelter with Uncle Tim (a more raw
mix of old dusty vinyl than MCH), former Headspace
(ambient/trance), former Surfwave (former surf show) and, if my
nerves and eardrums can take it, the not-so-former Psychotechnics
(nuttin’ but noise, folks!).
I was so jazzed with this goldmine discovery, I began to record the
one-hour show on a semi-regular basis. To make this audio
obsession even worse, I’d edit the shows into a compilation series of
choice bits of the show; both music and the occasional interesting
banter the two hosts tossed around.
This taping habit which was a carry over from my Dr. Demento show years continued to the point that I had up to 16
MCH “volumes” on tape. In the early ’00, I bought my roommates CD-R burner, hooked it up to my receiver and
carried this off-and-on tradition into the digital age that reached volume #22.
By now, my connection with the show and its musical landscape was firm and, thus, like any fanboy, drove my
roommates and co-workers nuts; while my two rommies swam deep into all things prog-rock and co-workers with their
rock/top 40/rap shtick, I was polluting THEIR ears with the soothing sound of Denny, Miles Davis, lounge, garage band
noise and whatever interesting sounds Cyrano and Amour were uncovering.
My audio war with my immediate victims may obviously smack of sharing my rude obnoxious behavior with theirs, but I
figured, it’s better that they fell asleep to my shit than yours truly having his head and heart simultaneously explode
with theirs; its called self-preservation by forcing those who’d harm me walk through my weird imaginary goofball
fantasy world of tiki and Tomorrowland in order to claim my ass and high cholesterol level down.
Due to reasons to ridiculous to go into here, I moved our of LA and KXLU’s radio range in late 2004. Even though I’m
in a calmer part of California, I missed checking into the show on a regular basis….until I got DSL and managed to
record the show in stereo.
Just in time, too, as of October 2009, the show was upped from one to two hours! This was great news….and bad.
Extra hour of music and MCH-ness: good, digging through it for another compilation at this point, bad.
|PS: To help your regular radio tuned ears to figure out The Molotov Cocktail Hour's "playlist", the
show co-host, Cyrano, has fashioned a "Mixologist Schemotic" to serve as an audio road map, just in
case you get lost.
UPDATE for 2013: A bit of sad news in the Mahi Mahi Room, Senor Amor has left the building. Actually, he had
moved away from the land of California and into the arms of Austin, Texas (the land of Richard Linklatter, Mike
Judge and "Keep _____ Weird!"). Amor still calls in occasionally and he will never be too far away in our hearts and
ears. Good luck in Big T, big guy!!