Throwback Thursday: 1996 Student Radio Show

In the fall semester of 1996 at Mississippi College, the campus experienced a new form of radio entertainment.  Night Train began airing every Friday night on the campus radio station.  The Night Train produced comedy skits similar to that of Saturday Night Live, played 90s alternative rock favorites, and chatted with enthusiastic fans who would call in to participate in contests and friendly jokes.  The Night Train was a new personality on campus and provided live entertainment to MC students.

– Jordyn Gunn, Online Editor

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New Show ‘Night Train’ Rolling on WSLI, Volume 80, Number 3, Sept. 23, 1996

Turn on campus station WSLI this Friday night and you might hear something a little different than the drone of boring world news and other trite matters.  Yes, that’s the sound of three guys getting paid to goof off.

Airing its fifth show this weekend, the campus’s new comedy/ talk show has officially crammed its foot in the door of the home that was once the sole property of Choctaw sports and the loveable “Farmer Jim.”  Dubbed “The Night Train,” the show has aired from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Friday this semester.  Junior Brian Glass, Sophomore David Nieminen, and graduate John White are the voices of the show.

“The idea just came about from a long-running joke between me and David and John,” said Glass, the show’s main personality.  “All three of us came up with different elements for the show.”

The description “long-running joke” is not inapt.  The Night Train features segments such as “The Smut Novel of the Week” – a chance for callers to guess the author of a trashy book and win soda in the process.  Junior Clark Grantham won a two-liter bottle of Big K soda (the official Night Train beverage) in addition to being entered in a contest to win a “Dream Date with Fabio.”  Grantham even got to keep the book.

Other call-in segments include the news headline check, which rewards callers with soda for spotting false headlines, and the smut novel quiz (self explanatory).

Some of the show’s strongest elements are its pre-recorded bits.  Where else can you hear Metro Center shoppers complain about country music, listen to Dr. Lowery talk about pizza and hear Doc Quick ramble about politics?  All with the added charm of Night Train wit, of course.

A recent show even featured phoney interviews with celebrities like Harrison Ford and “the time lady” from the time and temperature information line.  Using clips from various Ford movies and the time and temperature recording, the guys simulated conversations with the celebrity interviewees.  Other productions include Nieminen’s own “Mud Ridin’” – a musical parody of country music.

“We also do skits modeled after Saturday Night Live scripts.  Those are the only things we script out, and we pre-record those,” said Glass.

“We rarely script,” added Nieminen.  “We have a really loose outline, but pretty much everything’s ad-libbed.”

Ad-libbing often works out well on the Night Train.  With the three quick-witted DJ’s ready to take calls and embarrass everyone on the air, the spontaneity is often entertaining.  Sometimes the callers even get the urge to play along.  People posing as celebrities like Marlon Brando and Kevin Costner have called the show to join in the heckling.

The interaction between the Night Train and callers has, in fact, gained the show a steady following of campus listeners.  Some students are devout listeners who tune in faithfully almost every week to hear Night Train tunes as well as the standard foolishness.  In additions to the novel Night Train originals, the show features songs from college favorites such as U2 and R.E.M.

“It’s the best [expletive] on local radio.  That’s for sure,” said sophomore Kelee Reichenbach.  “The DJs are funny, and the music is nifty too.”

The show does have its occasional obstacles, however, as the Night Train guys have learned. The producers often have difficulty finding enough material to fill the two hour space.

“We don’t have any ideas that are really weak.  We just sometimes run out of stuff to talk about,” said Glass.  “Most of it is improv.  If it sounds very unpolished, that’s because it is.  We’re still in the process of finding our groove.”

Unfortunately, Glass said WSLI management is considering paring the program down to a one-hour show.

“We can have a good one-hour show, but we tend to run out of steam after one hour and a half,” he said.

Despite the probable cut-backs, the Night Train group still has bright hopes for future shows.  The guys are planning on trying to contact stars like Tom Bodett and Harrison Ford (not a pre-recorded fake, this time) for interviews.  Until then, the smaller goals must be attained.

“We just wanna be real funny and stuff,” said Nieminen.  “We don’t have any really big plans.  Just a couple of listeners would be nice.”

– John O’Bryan, 1996 Collegian A&E Editor

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