I entered "The Rock Pit" and everyone heard

A night in NWCZ Radio's studio

By Sean Contris on April 16, 2013

Recently I accomplished one of my many life goals. I heard my voice on the radio. After sending a quick text to the girlfriend telling her to tune in, I sat down in front of a microphone owned by Tacoma's Darrell Fortune who expanded his Northwest Convergent Zone podcast into a fully operational online radio station - NWCZ Radio - with a sole focus of sharing and celebrating homegrown sounds. In February, NWCZ Radio celebrated its second anniversary.

So, there I sat in the company of the NWCZ Radio program "The Rock Pit," which on this particular day was celebrating its 94th show, and was eagerly counting down to its 100th. The studio was a cross between a true Grade A professional radio station and a college boy's dorm room. Posters of various legendary rock acts lined the walls, traversed the ceiling and peered down. Amongst the more famous of groups - The Clash, Rush, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Tacoma's very own piece of history, The Sonics - were posters from local bands such as Roman Holiday.

NWCZ began its two-year adventure into broadcasting as a podcast, detailing the up and coming music acts in the Pacific Northwest. Though the podcast was well received, the biggest piece of feedback that the soon to be radio station heard, was that there was simply no place to hear all the music on the go. So after some determination, radio veteran Fortune recruited two of his close friends, David and Alex Davenport, who then dawned the names of DD and Wonder Boy and set about creating the station. The trio set the date for Feb. 18 2011 at 6 o clock, however, to those who were in the know, the true broadcast time was held precisely 2 hours and 40 minutes earlier to that determined time.

The key concept behind NWCZ Radio was to spotlight the talent that the Pacific Northwest had to offer. To do this, the group recruited friends to host their own shows for allotted periods of time, and in between, would play local music, host talk shows interviewing these artists, and even play and record live material straight from the station.  As of late, NWCZ Radio has gained an ever growing presence, with nearly 6,000 likes on Facebook, and tune-ins from countries across the world. The once small station now hosts more than 21 shows, six of the seven days of the week, with Saturday being dedicated strictly, to music.

"The Rock Pit" is one of NWCZ Radio's longest running shows, and soon will be celebrating its 100th broadcast. Created by Justin Gimse and Chance Pittenger, but hosted by Big Wheel Stunt Show drummer Gimse and various co hosts ‘ including BWSS guitarist Evan Nagel - "The Rock Pit" is perhaps NWCZ's most definitive show, and bares an odd resemblance to Seinfeld as it is simply a show about nothing - though, maybe nothing may not be the best word to use. "The Rock Pit" is a discussion-based show, open in nature, but typically centered on music. In addition to the discussion, "The Rock Pit" also debuts new music from local artists between sets of conversation, hosts live shows and artist interviews - and sometimes writers. While I was there on assignment, my photographer, Seth Wheeler, and I were interviewed. For those who didn't catch the show, the following is a brief synopsis of what occurred.

NWCZ RADIO: So what do you do Sean?

SEAN CONTRIS: I write for the Weekly Volcano and I'm a senior at Wilson High School.

NWCZ: And can you describe some of the stuff that you do for the Volcano?

CONTRIS: Well, I am kind of granted free reign over what I can write about. So generally, I'll get a request from my publisher, or I'll come to him with an idea and he can say "yay or nay" but for the most part I write about music a lot. Generally my area of expertise is in the area of The Tacoma School of The Arts and bands that come out of there. I think my favorite piece I've done of late was probably the piece I did on Roswell, which was a local band that showed a lot of promise. I would love to write a piece of Makeup Monsters, as I probably consider them to be my favorite local group ... along with Mono In VCF.

NWCZ: So what kind of music do you listen to normally then?

CONTRIS: Well ... I really like me some Bobby Dylan.

NWCZ: Oh that's cool, so you like that kind of singer songwriter style then? You like Neal Diamond?

CONTRIS: Well I mean more or less. I do like that singer songwriter stuff, like Van Morrison, Bob Dylan or Joanna Newsom, but I think it's important to listen to a lot of different stuff. I mean I like jazz, rap, classical, punk, electronic, folk, rock or even that crazy avant-garde style of stuff. Lately, I've been digging a style called krautrock, which is rock music that developed in Germany in the late '60s and early '70s.I just think it's important to keep your mind open. You know? 

NWCZ: So, are you a senior with Sean?

SETH WHEELER: No, no I'm a junior.

NWCZ: Wait, what? Are you really? How come you have a deeper voice than Sean then?

WHEELER (Laughing): I think it's just because I'm more of a man than he is. 

NWCZ: Well how long have you been taking pictures for?

WHEELER: Well for a while, but I've only been working with him for a few weeks.

NWCZ: So do you do this as a hobby then?

WHEELER: Yeah, I'm also looking to kind of make a career out of it at some point. So doing these articles is helping a lot with building a strong portfolio.

Seth and I hung with "The Rock Pit" folks through its entire two hours, which runs 8-10 p.m. every Wednesday at nwczradio.com. Seth and I entered "The Rock Pit" without knowing what to expect. Nervously we tip toed into the station, and were delighted to find a very welcoming atmosphere. By the time we left, we couldn't help but smile to ourselves as we went back to the car saying out loud:

"Yeah, that was fucking awesome."