KYLE CHIRGWIN a.k.a. SPECIAL K is the DJ for the SIDE B DEEPER CUTS show on Cape Cod's WOMR Community Radio Station - and he's also an author. Listen to his story here on GET READY TO ROLL!
• • • • •
Kyle grew up in Connecticut and founded a tow-truck business which expanded from owning one truck in 1994, until by 2002 he owned nine trucks, bodywork repair facilities, and also a snowplow business. Also in 1994 he met Lisa, who was to become his wife. Kyle began to suffer from numbness in his legs, which then led on to severe pain throughout his body, and eventually he was diagnosed with a neorological disorder which needs long-term medication, and which resulted in Kyle having to sell the business.
Kyle and Lisa were now living in Cape Cod, and begain co-hosting the 'Side B Deeper Cuts' radio show at WOMR. Since Lisa's tragic death in 2012, Kyle has carried on hosting the show, and has also written a book based on his time as a tow-truck driver.
Hi Kyle - firstly, please tell us about the radio station, how long you've been there, what you do there, and how you got involved with it.
I first got involved by listening to WOMR when we moved to Cape Cod. I was turning the dial and tuned in to a really cool radio show. They gave out the phone number, and when I rang in they said they needed DJs - it was a community radio station all done with volunteers, so I put in to get a slot filling in on Friday nights, and eventually I got the Friday night midnight to 3am slot - except now it's the midnight to 4am slot! The station has been on the air for over 30 years, and I've been on it for 8 years. When I lived in Connecticut I had an automobile talk show on Friday nights from 7-8pm. We were an AM station and we beat the FM sister station - it became their #1 talk show! I've always had a good following on the radio - I've been told I've got a good radio voice. So here I am eight years later. The difference with my show is that I play all the stuff that mainstream radio won't play, such as Stryper, UFO, Iron Maiden and bands like that.
Your late wife was a big part of your radio show. How different (or similar) is presenting the show now to how it was before she died?
Lisa used to co-host my show with me. We did everything together. We both had health issues, disability, so we spent just about every moment together, night and day. It's not like one of us left the house for eight hours a day to go to work... there was no "Hi honey I'm home" - it was "Hi honey I'm here". The only times we were apart was if one of us didn't feel too good and so we couldn't go out somewhere together. If she didn't feel up to coming to the radio station with me I'd leave her to rest and to take care of the dogs. But for most of the radio shows she was my co-host, answering the phone or picking out the records. Her moniker was 'The Lovely Lisa'. So the show is quite different now without her there. I get upset behind the scenes, but I don't let the public see that. I'm always upbeat on the air, but I get emotional when I look round and she's not there.
You've mentioned many times on air that UFO is one of your favourite bands. Which era of UFO is your favourite?
Well, not that I think any less of Michael Schenker or Vinnie Moore, but my favourite era was definitely the Paul Chapman era. I saw my first concert during the Chapman/Carter years, and that was Cheap Trick and UFO at the New Haven Colisseum. The crowd went ballistic when UFO played, the crowd went nuts for them. This was on the Wild Willing and Innocent tour and it was fantastic. I bought two t-shirts and I wore them both until there was nothing left of them, haha. That show was absolutely off the wall, awesome. That's why the Paul Chapman era is the one for me. The first album I ever bought was Strangers In The Night and then I went backwards and got all the earlier ones. My buddy actually bought SITN by accident, and he was blown away! He said I should check out the album, and he turned me on to UFO and when the next album came out, with Chapman on it, they became my favoutite band.
If you had the chance to fill a one-hour show with your absolutely favourite tracks of all time, what would the playlist be?
Since my wife passed away in 2012, my list will have changed. These days I'd tend to go for tunes that Lisa would have liked, tunes that she would have played. I couldn't really make you a list that would be a true-blue list, but it would definitely have Maiden, UFO, Rainbow, Jethro Tull, Led Zep, Genesis, definitely Mr. Big without a doubt, and bands like that. And now, since my wife's passing, I would also play bands like Evanescence - there's one track, Immortality... and Mr. Big's All The Way Up To Heaven - tracks with meaning in the lyrics, like See You On The Other Side by Ozzy Osbourne, and In My Life, by the Beatles - or any version of that song - it's one that I listen to alot - songs like that, which since Lisa's been gone have taken on a different meaning for me.
Love To Love was my wife's favourite song. When I had girlfriends at school and later on, right up until I met Lisa, I never let UFO become 'our band', I never let a girl get involved with my enjoyment of UFO, so that when we'd split up I wouldn't be reminded of that girl, the songs wouldn't be hurtful to hear. I never shared UFO, I always kept them to myself, they were my sanctuary to go back to - until I met my wife. I knew that Lisa was 'the one', so I kinda let UFO in, and she absolutely loved them. I played loads of their stuff to her and she loved their songs. The last concert she went to before she passed away was UFO at Showcase Live in Foxboro, on The Visitor tour in 2011.
My own favourite song was Couldn't Get It Right - I think the lyrics in that song are absolutely out of this world. If you sit and read the lyrics, they are genius. I could sing it now, but nobody would want to hear me sing it, haha. But yes, they are my favourite lines of lyrics, and also Love To Love. As for guitar solos, it has to be Rock Bottom... and Space Child's also pretty cool, and Paul Chapman's solo in Profession Of Violence is just out of this world, and the solos in We Belong To The Night and Doing It All For You. That's another reason why I love the Paul Chapman era - those fast solo fills between certain aspects of the songs. All that era of albums, with The Wild, The Willing and The Innocent as my favourite album - every single song is a great song. Similar thing to Queen's News Of The World, there's not a bad song on it, every song on both those albums is fantastic.
What's the best gig you've ever been to, and what made it so?
As I said, Cheap Trick and UFO at the Newhaven Colisseum blew my mind, but one of the most special was the Foxboro UFO gig - it was the last concert Lisa ever went to, the last time we went to a gig together, and that's what makes it even more special to me - we had a fantastic time, and it was an awesome gig! I've kept the tickets, and they are pictured on Lisa's page at legacy.com
Tell us about Captain Recovery - such as... who Captain Recovery is based on, and what led to the idea of writing the book, and which of the plots are based on actual incidents in your own life.
Captain Recovery was the nickname given to me after I did a super-duper repair job on an oversized camper truck that rolled over several times on the highway and ended up in a ravine. We pulled the whole thing up and got it out of there. It was in a terrible mess but we recovered it and towed it in, including getting the bumper down from 45 feet in the air, out of a tree! The bodyshop owner started calling me Captain Recovery after that. Then, when I got my illness and had to sell up my business and everything, I had an idea to write an autobiography called 'My Big Tow', about all my adventures as a tow-truck driver.
Then I thought why not make it a children's book, and had the idea of that the story would be about Darren, one of my young cousins, playing in the sandbox with a big blue truck. Lisa named my truck Big Blue, so that became the name of the tow-truck in the book. In the story, Darren would be playing with Big Blue, and his imagination would take over and he became a 22-yr-old called Captain Recovery and he would get called to all these weird jobs. In the first story a jet airliner goes off the runway and Captain Recovery has to winch the airliner back on to the runway. The book tells how he gets the plane back on the tarmac very successfully and everyone is saved!
Lisa features in the book as Auntie Lisa, and Kaylee is a girl who plays in the back yard and she also gets involved. Book 2 in the series is already in the pipeline, and is about a loco in the railyard. One of the rail-cars comes off the tracks, so they send for Captain Recovery to get it up and running and get everything 'back on track'. Both these stories are based on real events. I wasn't a main player in those events, they weren't my own recovery job, I was just an 'extra', but they really happened. Future stories will also include real life events. After every recovery job Captain Recovery gives the dogs a pat. In the stories I incorporated the dogs which Lisa and I had before Lisa passed away - Kody and Balto, two labradors. Kody got very ill, his kidneys failed and we had to have him put down. Balto on his own became an absolute maniac, we couldn't calm him down, so after a while we had to put him up for adoption. A beautiful couple adopted him, and we visited him a few times - he even came to Lisa's funeral. Those two dogs will live on in the book, along with Captain Recovery.
What is the Sampson Fund all about?
The Sampson Veterinary Fund is a project that I believe very strongly in - they provide medical services and pay for operations and procedures for pets owned by people who just can't afford the vet bills. They came to the rescue when we had a $2600 bill trying to save Kody. If you qualify, they'll step in and pay some of the vet's bill for you. That's what they did for us. After Lisa passed away we set up a fund in Lisa's name for donations. God bless the Sampson Fund, and anyone who can make a donation.
What should we listen out for on your radio show? Any interviews in the pipeline, or any particular phone-in topics coming up?
We have an interview coming up with Neil Carter who used to be in UFO and later played keyboards for Gary Moore. And as far as stuff going on for the fans, we ask you to send in your "top 10 list of your favourite songs", and we play those tracks starting at 1am every Friday night. That's a really popular segment of the show, and currently we have about 10 lists still to go through!
Please give us a message for all the listeners out there who may not have tuned into your show yet.
If you haven't tuned in you're missing out on all kinds of music that you don't hear on mainstream radio. There are many bands that we play that people will love, that you can only hear on 'Side B Deeper Cuts' on WOMR!
© Get Ready To Roll - 21st July 2013