What Is Swag?

SwaG! is a radio program on 89.1, WIDR-FM, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The show is Bat Guano (left) taking everything he hates about radio and doing the opposite. And then he does the opposite of that, and then does the opposite of that, to come up with a multi-layered departure from mainstream audio culture. Sometimes it's punk, sometimes it's funk, sometimes it's oldtimey 1920s jazz, sometimes it's experimental weirdness of all decades. SwaG! is an audio environment that is timeless, confusing, and smells kind of funky.

Your host is an over-caffeinated crank who rants, reads lame comic strips, occasionally speaks in freeform poetry and in inappropriately sexy talk that drives the ladies wild, delivers coded messages about national issues, and has numerous speech impediments.

The program began its evolution in 1994. In the spring and summer of that year Bat Guano hosted a program called "Mondo Historica." A sort of "alternative to the oldies," it featured American music from WWII to the cultural wasteland of the 1970s. That fall Guano was kicked off the air--the reason given is that he wasn't a WMU student at the time, but Guano feels that the then management of WIDR, who still thought of it as an "alternative rock" station, wasn't comfortable with the program and Guano's announcing style.

Around the begining of 1995, two of Guano's friends, the ever hip Kelly Argyle and Annie Igoe, began using Guano as a sub for their Sunday night shows. That spring, Igoe had to leave, so she asked Guano to take over her "Purple Show." He did so, renaming it "The Counter-Cultural Counter-Revolution" and expanded on its variety-based format.

Later the program became "The Mondo Revolution," featuring only "mondo" music. Guano refused to define what "mondo" was, fearing that the music industry would steal and abuse the word like it did with "alternative."

Reading the word "swag" in Jim Thompson's "The Getaway," and inspired by the Link Wray tune "The Swag," Guano renamed the program "SwaG!" late in 1996. It moved to Wednesdays at 11 p.m.--2 a.m.

Guano still refuses to define what "swag" is, but says he only plays "swag" music. Basically the show airs an insane variety of music, most of which is rarely or never heard anywhere else. Old country to The Oblivians. Classic jazz to scary Nipponese noise bands. Mellow lounge to garage rock of the '60s. Strange sounds that have no lable. Very old and very new music. "Just listen for a couple shows," Guano tells us, "and you will begin to understand what SwaG! is." Hear SwaG! Wednesdays 9pm Eastern US time on your radio on 89.1 WIDR-FM in Kalamazoo, Mich. or on your computer device in the rest of the world.


But who is Bat Guano?

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