[../../../_private/magazine_tmp.htm]Let's Go Clubbing

Tom Perry

91X DJ's 'Nite Club' Is No Dive

It's 6 p.m. Your radio's tuned to 91.1. A low rumble of crowd noise and the clinking of ice cubes in drink glasses breaks the silence.
Suddenly, a funky guitar riff cuts the crowd noise and gets everyone's attention. A deep bellowing voice announces:
"Welcome to Tom's Nite Club, where the cool come to hang, and boy, do those trees swing."
Is 91X doing a live show from a new San Diego nightclub?
Nope. It's the opening of 91X DJ Tom Perry's evening show each weeknight at 6 p.m. "I wanted to do something different at night," said Perry of his "Nite Club" concept. "I didn't want to do just another DJ hour."
Perry's show isn't just another DJ hour. If you happen to tune in to his show, you'll hear the constant rumble of crowd noise and clinking drinks in the background during the evening. It sounds like a real nightclub - so much so that listeners are often fooled.
"People actually call all the time asking where the nightclub is," he said. "So I have to let the cat out of the bag and tell them it's just a radio show." Perry invites a few characters on his show. One of the more popular guests is "Hank the Maintenance Man." "He usually comes in when the plumbing goes bad in the nightclub," the radio bar owner said. Perry likes to invent scenarios for his club. One of his favorites is bringing in the Alcohol Beverage Control Department to check on his liquor license. And if you're wondering who's behind the deep, bellowing voice of those "Tom's Nite Club" announcements, he's John Monty, Perry's Metro Traffic pal.
"I had to get Monty prepped before we taped the spot," Perry said. "So I took him to Foggy's Notion, gave him a stogie and a couple of shots of Wild Turkey - just to get that raspy voice." Such small details help make "Tom's Nite Club" special. Perry said his listeners, with whom he tries to interact as much as possible, love it.
"I want to know what people are thinking because putting people on the air is the best arena for comedy," he said. One of Perry's segments is called "Roommate Horror Stories," during which listeners tell horrifying tales of former roommates. One listener who called borrowed her roommate's clothes. When her roommate went out of town, she riffled through her dresser and found a book on Satanism. She thought it was no big deal until she checked the closet where she found bags of hair and pigs' ears. She moved out after her discovery. Another girl called to share her experience with her strange male roommate who never left his room except to go to work. Whenever he came out of his room he had this happy glaze over his eyes. One day he invited her into his room where she saw a chair hooked up with electrodes. He proceeded to plug himself into it and fired it up. He thought it was great and wanted her to try it. This caller also moved out.
Perry loves the roommate segment because he can't believe some of the things he hears. He also can't believe how he got his job at 91X. He worked at the station for eight years doing grunt work for other DJs. He answered request lines, covered shifts on Christmas Eve and worked the soundboard for other air personalities. He never expected to be on the radio. But one day it happened. "It was a big surprise," he said. "I got the job. They said I was real lucky to be getting it. I said, 'Don't make me feel guilty.' " That was a a little more than a year ago, and he has been happy as a "Top Nine at 9" winner ever since. "It's a piece of cake," the 28-year-old said. "I feel pretty lucky to be doing this."
The young jock couldn't be happier with his time slot, which happens to be from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. He said he has the whole day to fool around and watches all the TV talk shows. He confessed to being a television addict. "I like watching all the human oddities on those shows," Perry admitted. "Jenny Jones is my favorite. But I think this is one of the problems with America today. There's too many weird people on TV."
Perhaps Perry has a little too much free time on his hands?
"I was thinking about getting a second job," he said, laughing. "I used to fold rugs at Pier One. Maybe I could go back."
He'd better not. Perry said there's talk around the station that the powers that be may move their after-hours guy to the early shift. "Doing mornings scares me," he said. "It's hard being funny at 6 a.m." But Perry has a few ideas on how it could work. For the first half of the show, he said he could do it from his bed. For the rest, he could get up and drive around for a couple of hours waving and talking to listeners on the road. Perry's other idea is to get a bunch of DJs together for that "morning zoo" concept. The catch is that the DJs all hate each other.
But for now, Perry said he's pretty content right where he is. Besides, when your second career is in the music business, waking up in time for a morning show would be impossible.
"I will neither confirm nor deny it," he said of his rock star status. He's the band's second guitarist. The DJ/musician said he doesn't want a whole bunch of radio listeners coming just to see him in a band, which will remain nameless for now. But there's a method to his madness. "I'm the mysterious fourth member," he said. "Sometimes I'm there; sometimes I'm not."
Perry explained he misses gigs all the time because of his radio show at 91X. He recently missed a road trip to Seattle, but he made a San Francisco performance by flying up after his San Diego radio show.
"I like having a gig after my show," Perry said. "I go straight from the station to the gig. I like the pace." Perry reported that the band is doing really well and described its music as "voodoo-billy." "It's a cross between 'The Ventures' meet the 'Munsters,' " he said. "It's kind of a creepy surf sound. The topics range from post office workers to transexuals." So where does this popular DJ and rock star go from here? He hasn't the faintest idea. But he said he'll probably stick around San Diego for a while. After all, he is a native, and his family still lives here.
He even graduated from San Diego State University.
One of his fondest memories of SDSU is a speech professor named Fred Lewis who made the class do some bizarre voice exercises. "He told us to work on getting our voices lower by repeating, 'Hello, Bubba, hello, Bubba, hello, Bubba' for about 10 minutes," the former speech student said in a deep voice. "He also taught us to jut out our stomachs while we spoke. I think it helps. I was impressed."
But as far as being on the air at 91X goes, Perry said he'll probably stay until he gets fired or something.
But that isn't likely. He has just added his patented "Voice Hate Mail" for folks who are fed up with him. Every Thursday, listeners with a beef can leave a message on his "Voice Hate Mail," and he will play it on the air. All you have to do is call the "X-Line" at 296-XXXX. Another new dimension to "Tom's Nite Club" will be "Friday Night Capers."
"I'll go to people's homes and do the show from there," he said. "If they're having a party, I'll stick around, have a couple of drinks and do the last hour of the show over the phone from their house. It'll be great."
Of course it's going to be great. Perry always thought being a DJ would be a great way to be a wise guy and a smart ass and get paid for it.
Welcome to "Tom's Nite Club."

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