By Renee Dominguez
He stares at us in horror as if at any moment helicopters will swarm in and take him away because he accidentally let his real name slip up on air. The mysterious man sitting in a hammock chair with a colorful feather head piece doesn’t say his name in fear that the FCC is listening. He broadcasts 106.7 UTOPiRATE Radio from a big white dome located in the artist’s camping area at UTOPiA Fest.
It’s by pure chance that we run into a man who hosts his own radio show at one of the most uniquely genuine festivals I’ve ever been experienced. Odd, but not completely surprising, given that it is UTOPiA Fest after all. While I am busy trying to capture the purity of a baby wearing nothing but a scarf wrapped around her waist trying to catch bubbles flying around her, my fellow KTSW representative, Lucero taps me lightly on the shoulder. “Hey, this guy wants to show us something,” she says without explaining. “What guy,” I ask. “This guy, he says he has a radio show and that he’s broadcasting right now,” she responds.
When I get up to look at her, I am only half startled to see a man in a multi-colored, decorative shirt with colorful feathers sticking out of his head standing right beside her. I mean, it is UTOPiA Fest after all. That kind of fashion is the norm around here. As we walk back to his dome, he explains to us why he came up with the impromptu decision to broadcast a radio show in the middle of a festival. He tells us that after all the main performances are over, there is what the UTOPiAns call “Tank Goodnight” located up a hill. There’s no amps so everyone must be quiet. Once his friend was having a little too much fun and everyone kept shushing him. That’s when the idea of broadcasting the performances from Tank Goodnight as they happened so anyone could hear them was born. Ironically, he still hasn’t made a trip up the hill to broadcast the performances on his show because he has been having his own “too much fun.”
The creator of the radio show studied engineering, but didn’t know what went into broadcasting. “I didn’t know anything about recording before this,” he recalls. With Burning Man under his belt, however, he was able to teach himself and even use the dome he built for that eccentric festival to house his “studio” at this one. The interior of the dome is lined with red, orange, white, green and blue cloths hanging from the metal bars that make up the dome. The ground is covered with beautiful Indian-style rugs, which Lucero comments on and flash forward to the next morning when we are walking back to her car with it rolled up and propped on her shoulder.
His generosity and carefree persona is in perfect harmony with the vibe of the festival. When he laughs, he throws his mouth open and lets out this contagious laughter that fills the air. It’s no wonder random people feel comfortable enough to talk to him. He tells us that artists come in here to play acoustic sets that will never be heard again because he doesn’t record his shows. He also tells us about a conversation he had over breakfast tacos one morning with a random guy who described having a religious experience during the festival. Even the conversation we have with him is broadcasting live. He’s always on air. Who knows if anyone is listening in to hear any of these intimate conversations. “Someone out there is listening,” he assures us, and himself.
Featured image by Renee Dominguez.