What’s This Called? features experimental and eclectic music of all genres. From John Cage to Sonic Youth, Merzbow to Autechre, Crank Sturgeon toAriel Kalma, Sun Ra to William Shatner. You shouldn’t be surprised to hear a classic electronic composition from the last century, played back to back with a droning wall of post-punk guitar feedback, followed by a saxophone improvisation from one of the giants of free jazz.
Beginning life in 1993 at KAOS in Olympia WA, What’s This Called? came over to KPSU after a two year hiatus on August 27th, 2005. The show and the station have been a perfect fit, and host Ricardo Wang continues to marvel at the daring of KPSU to allow such programming on Saturdays in the daytime – a timeslot most other college and community stations devote to the likes of bluegrass music or car talk.
Throughout the tenure of What’s This Called? at KPSU, original host Ricardo Wang has been regularly joined by Austin Rich as a live music soundman, preferred substitute, musical adviser and resource, childcare and refreshment specialist, and occasional sit down in the booth co-host. In 2010, Ricardo decided to make this official and declare Austin the show’s permanent (at least for the foreseeable future) co-host. Think of it as when Jim ‘O Rourke joined Sonic Youth.
While recorded music is the weekly focus, What’s This Called? has hosted semi-frequent live musical guests as well including: The Silverman (of Legendary Pink Dots) with Soriah, Asian Women on the Telephone (from Moscow, Russia), Green Milk from the Planet Orange (from Tokyo, Japan), Santiago Latorre (from Chile), Zoe Keating, Crank Sturgeon, Daniel Menche, Big City Orchestra, KnotPineBox, Eet, Joy Wants Eternity, Mattress, Moodring, Doug Theriault, Boyd Andersson & Mukis, METAL, Argumentix with Kitty Midwife,Childhood Friends, In Gowan Ring, Shalloboi, A: Frequency, Mr. Pharmacist,Obe Skupla, L.A. Lungs, Derek M. Johnson (aka M.E. & Me), Eric and Ian Ostrowski, Pop Culture Rape Victim, Styrofoam Sanchez, Soup Purse, Offset Needle Radius, The Passengers, Frontal Lobe Development, Blue Light Curtain, Mortal Engines, Paintings for Animals, Octagon Control, The Vibrarians, Your Drugs – My Money, Abusive Delay, Million Brazilians, New Red Sun, Jennifer Robin/Night of the Living Tongue, That Stupid Love Experience, Howlin’ Hounddog, the Easter Island Project, Ilima Considine,Aural Resuscitation Unit, Jackie An, Power Circus, Callow, Mangled Bohemians, Paco Jones, Toiletooth, Sky CHance, Overdose the Katatonic, and Boyband.
Guest artist/djs sitting in the booth for interview shenanigans include the likes of Chris McBeth from Beta-lactam Ring Records, Noah Mickens, science fiction author and podcaster Douglas Lain, Big Tom the Lithuanian,The Tipton Saxophone Quartet, and probably others I’m forgetting.