One week after Donald Trump was elected in 2016, BFF.fm listeners tuned in on a Saturday morning to hear this: "Hey, it's Steve Foxx. It's 7am, and you're listening to BFF.fm. What the fuck have you people done with my country?" Then the in-your-face chords kicked in. Steve Foxx has been in and around radio since the late 80s and involved with BFF.fm since 2015, but it was in the shitshow fallout of the 2016 election that he founded his legendary show, Wake The F Up!, on Saturday mornings, from 7-8am. Steve describes Wake The F Up! as, “Rock. Liberty. Truth. And a lot of coffee.”
It’s time to wake up, babies. Read on to learn more about Steve Foxx and his incendiary Saturday morning show:
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background? Where are you from?
I grew up in a tiny little town in Pennsylvania, right next door to Scranton. So I say I'm from Scranton, because people don't know where I'm from, but they know Scranton. And I have loved music and radio since I was a little kid. And I didn't even think about radio as a profession until I went to college. There was a radio station at my university, and I happened to just fall into doing an air shift. I was like, “Wow, I can get paid for this? This is awesome!” So I worked in radio in college, at my college radio station, and also at an AM/FM combo station where the AM was news and the FM was “Adult Contemporary.” Then they opened a Top 40 Alternative station when I graduated (and that was a million years ago; that was '92). That was WBHT. That's where Steve Foxx came about because my program director said I needed a name and suggested it. I was like, “Sure, why not?" So Steve Foxx happened, and that was a good gig.
When did you move out to SF?
I moved out here in '94. I love San Francisco. Like, within 48 hours after I stepped off the plane, I was like, “I'm gonna be here. This is it. I'm done. I'm not moving anywhere else.” I worked at Tower Records – now defunct – as a store artist. I met my wife there in ’94. And I did some radio from ‘95-’97 at KFOG and KNBR here in the city, just on weekends. Then I got hired at Lucasfilm, and I've been doing film sound and movies for the entire time since…and teaching too, which is weird. I guess that's what happens when you get older. [Laughs]
What do you teach?
I teach sound design at San Francisco Film School.
Are you able to share with us any of the films that you worked on?
I worked on over 100 feature films in my time at Skywalker, everything from Saving Private Ryan and Fight Club and Star Wars all the way down to stuff like Mimic 2, which was a straight-to-video release about giant intelligent cockroaches in New York. But it was cool; I really enjoyed my time there.
Thanks for giving me a movie to add to my watch list.
It's really bad. You should get high.
[Laughs] Tell me a little bit about your relationship to music. Do you remember when it first started meaning a lot to you?
So my mom, in the early ’60s, worked for Capitol Records. Capitol Records had one of their headquarters in Scranton, Pennsylvania, weird enough. My mom worked in the art department and was working on, like, album covers, mostly on the jazz releases. By the time I was born, with all the free stuff that she got, I think we had maybe 35-40 feet of vinyl in our house. My dad loved music too. We had a HiFi, you know, one of those big pieces of furniture…it's awesome. And I would just listen to all kinds of music all the time. Music was always playing in my folks’ house. I started buying my own vinyl when I was, like, nine. The first album I ever bought was AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Then I had a big boombox and, like, a 1,000 million cassettes. Listening to music and going to live shows, it just...it made me sane as a teenager. I felt really in touch with artists, lyrics, and beats. It was nice to be part of something that a lot of people didn't really think about.
What made you want to take that love and turn it into radio DJ’ing, then keep DJ’ing for so many years?
When I started doing a radio shift at the university I went to, it kind of dawned on me after a little bit…because you know, you're a little clunky at first…but it dawned on me that every time you're on the air, you are telling a story to the audience through whatever music you play and through what you're saying in between the songs. I really loved the idea of continuing to tell a story to the audience every time I’m on the air, which is what I carried through to when I did it for a paycheck as well.
When did you start here at BFF?
Oh my god…March of 2015? February 2015…something like that?
How'd you find the station? If you remember... [Both laugh]
You're asking an old man questions. I think I just Googled “community radio stations,” and it came up. I called Amanda and told her who I was and she was like, “Yeah, come on in.” Originally I did Sundays 10pm to midnight, The Midnight Prowl, that was my first show here.
Then I took a little hiatus the summer of 2016 because I was doing a lot of full-time stuff at a university. But then...shit, but then 2016 happened. I realized, shit, I have the ability to have a voice and talk about this election and talk about what's happening in the world…and play rock music. I asked Amanda if there were any spots open and what she had was Saturdays in the morning. I was like, “Done, doing it.” So I started in…Jesus, like the week after the election in 2016, Wake The F Up! premiered. And I just remember my first words on the air were, "Hey, it's Steve Foxx. It's 7am, and you're listening to BFF.fm. What the fuck have you people done with my country?" *snaps fingers* And I hit the rock music. That's what my show is.
That's an amazing mic drop to start a show with, first of all. Since starting in that moment, how has your show evolved?
As I evolved, the show’s a lot less freeform. I've got a clock in my head about what I need to play when I need to play it, and when I need to talk. That's format. That's something that happens over the course of time to make it consistent for the audience week after week so they understand what's going on. I think that…I don't know, over time...it's not just about resistance at this point. It's about trying to make the world a better place by thinking about how we can all progress together. There are times when I'm really pissed off and really angry and talking about that. And then there are times when I'm kind of kumbaya and joining hands and making sure that happens. So it's kind of evolved…maybe less of a harsh edge than what happened in 2016. But I don't want to get too soft on things.
What are some of your current favorite artists and your favorite artists of all time?
Bands I have obsessions with....this is so rough. But of all time? Give me Iggy Pop any day of the week. Give me The Stooges. Iggy Pop solo, too. Recently, like over the last maybe three or four years. I love Savages, out of London, so much, and I wish they hadn't broken up. I wanted to see them so badly. Give me Def Leppard any day of the week. Give me Public Enemy any day of the week. Give me Lou Reed any day of the week. Pete Townsend. Give me The Who…Queen, Buzzcocks, Sonic Youth, Prince and the Revolution, The Kinks. Hüsker Dü, The Chats, Alice Cooper, Killing Joke, The Jim Carroll Band, Tina Turner. My show is eclectic. But, I really like getting bangers that get out there and get you moving in the morning.
Can you tell me a little bit about some of your other favorite BFF.fm shows or any DJs you want to shout out?
Well, first of all, Saturday Morning Soul Salvation with Peter is awesome. I love listening to Peter. I listen to him on the way home, and then I turn it on as soon as I get to the house. Make breakfast for whoever's up. But I gotta say, you know, just lately, that Friday night crew. It's the whole block on a Friday night. I love them all. It's awesome.
This is a question from a fellow BFF.fm DJ: if your show was a venue, what would it be?
Fuck...Slim's. And I wish it were still there.
What was your favorite show that you've seen recently? I mean, I know it's been pandemic times…
[Laughs] Yeah, I haven't seen a show in a couple of years. The last show I saw live was Stern Grove Festival 2020. It was before we had that second wave of COVID and we were all like, “Hey, everybody’s vaccinated! We can do whatever we want.” X was playing. It was a great show. And I think it was a great show, not only because it wasXx, but because it was just, like, it's been a year and a half and I haven't seen anything. It was awesome. The last show I saw indoors was when I saw Peter Murphy at The Chapel. That was phenomenal.
Do you have any burning questions for other DJs?
Can we get a party on your show?