The History of Wow Machine Radio

Wow Machine Radio started back in the 20th Century as the background music in the cozy little apartment of Montrose in Houston. After moving in together, they won a computer in an auction on a new site called “EBAY” that was advertised: “WOW! Look at this Machine!” The final price for the machine was about a quarter of the retail price, and when it arrived, they discovered unadvertised features such as the brand new Windows XP operating system already installed. Wow, indeed.

The first thing they did was to start ripping their CD music collections onto the computer and used Winamp media player to shuffle and randomize the tracks so they could listen to their music like a radio station, and never worry about choosing which CDs to cycle through. They also started to add other clips they were downloading from the internet. Sound clips of movies, TV shows, and other spoken word sources were added to the playlist and Chris and Sandra delighted in the absurd transitions through these spoken word tracks in between the music tracks.

The more variety of tracks that got added, the more the result reminded Chris of the Low-Power FM stations at all the Phish Festivals he’d attended. For example, back in 1996, there was The Clifford Ball and “Ball Radio”, the 1999 New Years Eve festival Big Cypress had “Thin Air Radio”, and at Phish’s 10th festival Magnaball in 2015, there was “The Bunny Radio”. At each of these events, the LPFM radio station entertained and informed the denizens of “The Lot” for the 3 to 4 days these mini-cities existed. The programming was run by volunteers so the mix of genres, styles, and songs was extreme and the line up was always totally unpredictable. Wow Machine Radio had that same sort of unpredictability, while at the same time, seemed to be playing tracks that divined together as though a consciousness was deciding the order.