Radio clowns

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  May 12, 2011

"What they're doing is freeform at its best," says the famously mustachioed Michael J. Epstein, a local music blogger and member of Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, among other bands. "They not only tolerate the obscure, they celebrate it . . . without requiring guests to resort to tags or sound bites. Listeners have an opportunity to get to know each guest, and to experience a natural, nuanced discussion of art."

With more than 35 original programs that air around the clock, seven days a week, the station covers everything from hard politics to heady entertainment. There's even a Sunday all-ages program, which co-owner Matt Lax says is about "real fucking family values and how your family's important and shit."

UNregular hosts include local comedian Bigg Nez, who co-anchors Rare & Well Done on Wednesday nights, and MassCann president Mike "Cann" Crawford, whose Saturday show, Two Hotheads on Cannabis, highlights the issue closest to UNregular's heart.

"Listeners like hearing people who are real — whether that means cursing, saying whatever the fuck we want, or talking about smoking pot," says Cann. "The concentrated audience at UNregular is amazingly receptive — I've been doing events for years, and I've never been able to get this kind of exposure. There's definitely something going on here." Adds Keith Saunders, who reigns over the weekly Boston Pot Report: "There's nothing else like it. You can't hear this shit anywhere else."

THEIR POWERS COMBINED

Dex left his family's strict Roman Catholic home about 10 years ago, at 18, to toil as a deckhand on a cruise ship. The work was grueling, but the aspiring oddball was just happy to flee the conservative confines of his native Narragansett, where, he says, "They don't like weird people — at all." Scrubbing toilets from the Mississippi River to the Caribbean turned Dex on to a nomadic lifestyle, which he enjoyed for the next five years as a concessions vendor for the Big Apple Circus, a touring stand-up comic, and a clown for regional circuses around New England.

After hanging up his foam schnoz around 2006, Dex continued doing comedy, and began singing with the Yer Moms, a fringe shock-punk outfit that he says "mostly played open mics and train yards for bums." The band never accomplished much, but signs of minimal success motivated Dex to start his own imprint to release merch and music.

With his new manager, business-school grad Matt Lax, he launched F-Nice Records in 2007. Soon after, show promoter Dave Crespo joined the team, and by 2008 they were representing a half-dozen bands, including the Yer Moms, out of a rented office in Charlestown.

Around the same time, Southie native John Loftus was looking to fulfill his own creative dreams — and to escape the restaurant industry once and for all. When he wasn't flipping burgers, Loftus had produced community-access television shows, and also had an online radio program on the Quincy-based CyberStation USA. Looking to move out on his own, in July 2009 he rented a space at Sanctum Sound, a recording studio in downtown Boston, and went live with UNregular the following month.

It was at Sanctum that UNregular's cast of characters coalesced. Loftus grew tight with the studio's manager/engineer, Rick Goodenow, who agreed to help man the station's boards. Goodenow also pledged to help fill the UNregular schedule, and, having wired live concerts for the F-Nice crew for years, he introduced Loftus to Dex and his entourage in January 2010.

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