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In WJFK’s regular on-air parlance, as practiced by Howard Stern, the term “hardcore” has very little to do with punk rock. During the daily commuter rush hours and other radio prime time, the 50,000-watt commercial station in Fairfax is hardly a hotbed for underground music or radical expression. Weekday listeners flock to 106.7 FM for The G. Gordon Liddy Show, The Howard Stern Show, and music well on the conservative side of mainstream. But on Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., DJ Chris “Suspect” Condayan abandons the station’s playlists, relishes the FCC’s late-night laxity, and transforms WJFK into Capitol Radio, a free-form punk and hardcore show akin to the anarchic fare of pirate radio.
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“I was at the bar at Black Cat one night complaining about how much local radio sucks, and I was approached with the idea for Capitol Radio by WJFK’s program director,” says Condayan, better known in the local rock scene for his bands the Suspects and Lickety Split, and as the founder of Torque Records. “It was just sort of drunken bar talk, but I wrote up a proposal and jumped through a bunch of hoops, and it turned out they wanted to run with it.”
Condayan and his guests hang out and casually gab about underground music while spinning rare punk 45s and records by local bands and obscure national acts. “We focus on what’s current in underground music, so of course we pay a lot of attention to what’s going on in D.C. as far as indie, punk, hardcore, and emo,” says Condayan. “We play some back-in-the-day stuff, too, but it’s definitely not an oldies show.”
Since Capitol Radio went on the air earlier this year, the show’s guests have included Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye of Fugazi, Ken Olden of Damnation A.D. and Battery, Brian Baker of Bad Religion and Minor Threat, rock groupie Cynthia Plastercaster (famed for making plaster molds of rock stars’ penises), and a “these-are-the-people-in-my-neighborhood” array of body piercers, tattoo artists, A&R guys, and ‘zine publishers. When the Make-Up canceled on short notice last week, Condayan put out a few calls and got onetime local rocker Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters instead. In his guests’ honor, Condayan spun early Grohl rarities by Nirvana, Scream, and Mission Impossible. The pressing topic of conversation in the band’s between-song patter and tomfoolery: “Who farted?”
“With the guests we get, it’s more like you’re hanging out with a friend than conducting an interview,” says Condayan. “We interviewed a piercer one time, and he came in here and pierced a girl’s breast….So, we’re not exactly The Howard Stern Show, but it is a lot of fun.”
Independent record labels and do-it-yourself bands send their new releases to the station, supplementing Condayan’s massive personal record collection. Because the show is on air after 10 p.m., Condayan doesn’t have to edit songs for content or explicit lyrics. “They [WJFK] seem to be into taking chances and having stuff on air that’s controversial,” says Condayan, who notes that he is happy to oblige.Colin Bane