were published as being one of the Top 10 local spins on 669 (midnight
to 4 a.m. Fridays) on WCSB-FM/89.3 for Nov. 29. Here's a scan of the
Magazine - 07/20/2001
10 Family Minutes
The weird world of Paul Ryan, Sam Harmon, and Jay Kennnedy has always
been buoyantly confined to the midnight-hour chaos of their Sunday night
radio show on WRUW-FM/91.1 called Press the Button. The program
is a wild sound collage of sketches, skits and shtick culled from everyday
occurrences and noises strung together in an entertaining anti-talk
radio scheme. As ambitious as the radio show is, the series of "Public
Service Announcements" strung together on the Button's 10 Family
Minutes stretches the trio's routine to its limits.
off as messages from "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,"
the full-length CD starts with a weird conception of God, who's had
a rough week (creating and such) as he hurtles down an open elevator
shaft. The strangeness continues through bits about highway signs (one
that reads "You are now entering God's Kingdom," to which a booming-voices
God says to curious onlookers, "I like the sign") and closes with a
vignette featuring Jesus himself wandering through a crowded mall, sporting
a "WWID?" (What Would I Do?) T-shirt.10 Family Minutes
accomplishes what it sets out to do - it will certainly irritate the
humorless, agitate the religious, and "press buttons." If funny is what
the Button is after (and that seems to be the case), it scores more
often than not with this bit of conceptual psychosis. -Kurt Hernon
Magazine - 12/27/1999
Author: Aaron Steinbgerg
the Button, Cleveland, OH, WRUW, 91.1 FM, Monday mornings from 12-3
used to talking to each other in complete sentences. If you took the
conversation and broke it into fragments, you might understand it better."
Or so believes Jay
Kennedy, one of three Cleveland radio hoodlums responsible for the late-nite
WRUW show, Press
the Button. He and pals Paul Smith (a.k.a. Paul Ryan) and Sam Harmon
(a.k.a. Dr. Asbestos)
have taken this concept to heart. For the better part of three hours
every week, these guys
devote themselves and WRUW's basement broadcasting studio to a radio
show that attempts to
convince you of just that. Seven minutes into Monday morning at 91.1,
the show begins with a
somewhat conventional farce, the mock talk show, the Paul Ryan Report.
conventional compared with what's to come, but it certainly has its
piquant elements (one
recent target, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, sustained
a nearly hour long
roasting in a radio play that the church was later erroneously credited
with producing). But
by hour two, rest assured, if you tune in to WRUW your radio will be
awash in audio swamp:
television and film dialogue and random voice samples commingle with
constantly-shifting swatches of background music.
week, insurance commercials might be cut and re-pasted to the tune of
classical music; the next, you might hear dialogue from this week's
episodes of ER and Chicago
Hope rent from context and then juxtaposed--all to a soundtrack of echo
effects and static. As
loyal listeners may already know, the hospital drama episode of Press
The Button actually
exists and aired a few weeks ago. The three sampled dialogue from ER,
Chicago Hope and various
other hospital dramas over the last several decades, shuffled them and
looped them into the
show. Over the muted wail of torch singers and the cadence of heart
monitor bleeps, Anthony
Edwards complains. "I literally don't fit in," he says. George Cloony
asks, "what about
anesthesia?" "No time," says Edwards. "I'm going to local."
always ask what the talk show's about, but its not really a talk show.
People ask what
the music is about but it's not really music," explains Kennedy. "Some
weeks there's no music
at all--just fragmented words throughout the whole program. Sometimes
there's a mixture of
both. Its not consistent, but I think that's the beauty and that's why
people should tune in."
show certainly has its moments of anarchy. More than a few, perhaps.
But for Kennedy and
company, Press The Button has a definite working manifesto and a definite
whipping boy. "The
subdivisions of commercial radio are too black and white . . .it's either
straight music or
talk radio," says Kennedy. "There's no in-between." With Press the Button,
and Smith blur the distinction between radio as strictly music, talk
or white noise. They hope
for nothing less than to change the way you listen--not just to the
radio but to anything and
everything. "Normally when you're driving home and you're listening
to NPR or something, you
kind of zone," says Kennedy. "And every once and a while when you hear
interests you, then you pick up on it. What we're trying to do is keep
interesting; keep that mind working all the time. We don't do that as
humans as often as we
should. We just listen to music, trance out, and not pay so much attention
to it. But in
fragmenting it into smaller bits and putting it together with other
fragments, we try to think
about what these fragments, what they mean to us. Its a learning experience
as we do the show
and as you're listening to the show."
the show accomplishes this by constantly frustrating the listener's
in for what sounds like a talk show on the Cleveland Browns, and within
a few minutes, you may
be listening to anything from an agricultural talk show to random sound.
Aside from the Paul
Ryan Report, Press The Button allows almost no continuity. "If you tune
in to it at first, you
might think, oh this is regular music, this is a regular talk show.
But if you sit there for
longer then 10 seconds, all of a sudden, the sentence will stop and
a new voice will start,
saying something completely unrelated. And [the listener] will be like,
wait a minute. They'll
try to put those two samples together. [They will] think, oh, this must
be what they must have
meant. [Then] they'll hear another fragment, totally unrelated to that,
and they'll try to
relate those to the other two and think, oh that's what they meant.
and you'll find yourself
studying what you're listening to."
Press the Button aesthetic, equal parts John Cage, William Burroughs
late-nite talk show, germinated at the college radio station at Mercyhurst
Kennedy and Smith both worked in the mid 90's. Engineering proto-Press
The Button soundscapes
that alienated the Station Manager, the two were actually banned from
airing anything they had
collaborated on or even participating in each other's shows. "We were
experimental pieces except they were a little more abstract, a little
less fragmentary," says
Kennedy. "The station manager, an older guy, did talk radio in the seventies.
He hated what
we were doing." Undaunted, Kennedy and Smith continued to produce and
record material; for
what, they didn't know. Eventually, the material ended up on a CD, "The
Button . . .For
Dummies." (Faced with two hours worth of material, Kennedy and Smith
skipped on the double
album concept and burned two hours onto the single CD--one hour in the
right channel and one in
show got started in earnest when Kennedy met up with Harmon, a WRUW
DJ spinning underground
electronica. 2 and 1/2 years ago, Harmon invited Kennedy on to his show,
and the conventional
format was dropped in favor of the sample-heavy, cut-and-paste sound
of Press The Button. A
year later, Smith moved to Cleveland and joined the show.
present, the trio enjoys the company of a constant stream of student
musicians from Oberlin,
expiramental, classical, and jazz players who hang at the studio and
play much of what ends up
as background music for the show. They have also been fine tuning their
show in the hopes of
taking it live some day soon. "Ideally, we want to play quadriphonic--four
speakers around the
audience so that we could have a spinning effect," says Kennedy.
the near future, Kennedy, Harmon and Smith will be preparing the release
of their third
recording. According to Kennedy, the CD will be more structured and
feature what might
actually be called songs. Some might even have rhythms. But the radio
show is still their
main gig (with generally 12 hrs. of production for every 3 hr. show),
and the plunder of our
sonic world is still their passion. Says Kennedy, "everything you hear
on the news, all the
music that you listen to, new or old, everything you hear when you're
walking in the streets.
All of that is audio. None of that is safe from us."
CLEVELAND FREE TIMES, 11-18-98
by Laura DeMarco
Late night radio fans have been buzzing about WRUW, 91.1 FM's
Press The Button program since it
began a year and a half ago on
Sunday nights/Monday mornings from
midnight to 3 am. The show,
which each week assembles a found-sound
collage around a specific
theme, is one of the most interesting
contributions to Cleveland radio
in a long time - even for the lower
end of the dial. And now you don't
even have to stay up late to experience
the efforts of co-host masterminds
Jay Kennedy and Sam Harmon. The duo
released a CD entitled The Button
last August that, thanks to frequent
on-air plugs of their Website, is starting
to really take off.
reveals a method to the duo's madness: mixing together
song samples, machine noise, TV snippets and all sorts of other assorted
sounds, they create a sonic stew that's chaotic but not unmusical. For
the two are selling it from their Webpage (www.pressthebutton.com),
they're talking to found-sound pioneer Negativland's Seeland label about
out a single they've composed about the controversy within the Recording
Industry Association of Amercia about the legalities of sampling, called
as well as their next LP, tentaively titled The Stages of Life.
Visit the Website, listen to the show or write to The Button Press
at 26151 Lakeshorte
Blvd. #2000, Euclid, OH, 44132 to find out more.
A local minister who wishes to remain nameless says
at first, but curious. Then, the repetition seemed to make
sense as it evolved into the next
stage of the show. The show is a
continuing evolutionary process that
makes itself an original format. The
samples don't satirize themselves
like they would in a noise show.
They are chopped up and turned against
themselves, yes. but they are
often turned into complete sentences!
These sentences have obviously different
meanings, but are sometimes funny,
and other times very deep and relevent to
to the theme, or to where the sample
came from. It's not a talk show, but is
ironically much more interactive
than a talk show. Press The Button is evolved
freedom╔plain and simple."
the CWRU Observer, 10/97
knew such great Radio came out of Mather Memorial Building?
They say that radio is an art and
not a science. (I don't know who "they"
are, but nevermind that, it helps
the premise of this article.) Well, if
it is art, then the boys who do Press
the Button are abstract painters.
They start with the blank canvas,
and with bold strokes, create a bright,
colorful ▀ower: how pretty, how trite.
Then suddenly, in a frenetic,
manic blizzard of rage they splatter
black tar on the picture. Then they
dissect the petals and crush the
leaves. They throw the canvas against the
wall and stomp on it. Then the callers
spit on their hands and smear
peanut butter and jelly over their
faces before plastering the remains of
the canvas with their stained faces.
This is the lunacy that is Press the
Button. This is truly radio without
walls, without boundaries.
Kennedy from Press The Button comments that while "most radio
shows are format driven, we are 'theme'
driven. By theme, I mean a topic
that will be the only guaranteed
constant element of every show. Our goal
is to satirize that theme without
using conventional expression. If we used
the same expression every week, then
it would defeat our point of not being
conventional, because repetition
of expression is conventional. We offer
different expression that remains
new to listeners, and therefore never
boring. It's a chance for listeners
to escape conventionalism, and to create
their own way of thinking." Woah.
if you believe that radio is a science, then Press the Button
could only be seen as a madman's
experiment. Dr. Asbestos and Jay
Kennedy have the radio-monster on
their operating table. "What have we
created?", they ask themselves. If
only lightning would strike to bring
their creation to life. And then
it does. The electricity sizzles through
the phone lines as they take caller
after caller. The callers bring their
experiment in radio to life. Can
you imagine: the scientists in the
laboratories of WRUW have allowed
their creature to be brought to life by
the listening public.
show, in its simplest form, starts with a topic followed by a
mix of samples (pre-recorded bits
of sound), listener input, and talk.
Jay Kennedy loves to push the envelope
of creativity. "What's best
about this," he says, is "like with
many works of art, the meaning of each
bit of satire we do will be unique
to the observer. For one person, the
show might have meaning to his own
personal life, while for another person,
the show might just be funny.
The uniqueness is that the show is not chaos. It is
developed every week with a new theme,
and hours of preparation behind
a review of the Snuggles Tape compilation "Red Hand Dave"
finished plowing through the Snuggles tape compilation and I enjoyed
it thoroughly. Looks like we've come
up with some strong stuff. I
particularly enjoyed CUTTING UP WITH
RUSSELL MAST of MacDonald's
"Golden Ticket" segment, and all
"Press The Button"s stuff. Fun fun listening,
everything. I reckon a volume could
come out like this every year!