By Ashley Zimmerman
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Remember how fun it was to sneak out of your room after bedtime and watch MTV -- at least for us 20- and 30-somethings labeled as the "MTV Generation." Well, MTV pretty much sucks now, but in pockets of Palm Beach County, you can still find a local show that plays the good stuff. Shows that are brought to you not by Noxzema or iPod but by folks who actually know music.
Back in 1988, Mike Stankoski was tooling around as a freelance videographer when he had the idea to start a mail-order catalog specializing in music memorabilia, jewelry, and apparel under the name Jungle Outpost. "We advertised in music mags like Hit Parader and RIP and carried T-shirts and merch from bands ranging from Metallica to Suicidal Tendencies, Jane's Addiction to Faith no More," the 35-year-old says.
His concept moved online in the late '90s, first as jungletriad.com and then as jungletv.com. It offered free musician classifieds, event listings, and a forum for club promoters and bands. The site also featured streaming media, links to local entertainment sites, and JungleTV news.
When Stankoski decided he wanted more than just a website, he used his video experience to morph JungleTV into a half-hour show. But first, he needed a host. He didn't have to look any further than former radio DJ Anthony "ChaChi" Siscar. ChaChi's radio show, Native Noise, had once upon a time graced the Sunday-night airwaves of WZZR-FM (94.3) in West Palm Beach, and he was fond of playing -- gasp -- good music from local bands!
"I had run into ChaChi at several concerts over the years and mentioned the idea of him hosting a program that featured videos from local bands, as well as indie artists," Stankoski says. "I think ChaChi just kind of shrugged it off at first, not thinking it to be a serious endeavor, but when I contacted him about eight months ago about hosting the program, he was all for it and jumped right in." And ChaChi also brought along a chunk of his Native Noiseplaylist.
The biweekly program is hosted on location at area clubs and shows and in Stankoski's studio. The website states that it is an "alternative to the reality shows." Indeed, the ghost of local music shows past is scary; they usually consisted of some jackass ambushing hot girls and trying to get them to take off their shirts, with the occasional music video thrown in. Pish-posh, Stankoski says; that's not what he's about.
"JungleTV exists to turn people on to some great sounds that don't have much of an outlet in South Florida -- or the rest of the country, for that matter. We try to play music from at least one South Florida artist per show, but production can get difficult. We videotape artists when we can but really rely on them to send us videos they already have."
In addition to locals like Mindlikewater, Neverhood, Ashley Red, Stillkept, Bughead, Response Negative, the Groovenics, and Fort Lauderdale's own Heatseekers, JungleTV throws down videos from national indie, hip-hop, and hardcore acts. "The program has been primarily a rock show, but we're not limited to that tag," Stankoski says. "We've played videos from the Chemical Brothers, hip-hop clips from K-OS, Diverse, and Dizzee Rascal. The door is open to rockabilly, surf, garage, metal, and reggae." And if you're not happy with the vids in rotation, you can sound off about it, post on the site and request videos, and leave feedback about a show or band in the area. It's grassroots promotion.
The posts, of course, are pretty typical of a message board environment, ranging from overzealous: ("I don't wanna see rap! I wanna see punk local stuff like Last Laugh! And the Pixies just aren't good.") to straight to the point ("You guys need to show more local bands. I can watch the others on MTV2.") to totally random ("ChaChi needs makeup!"). Surprisingly, several of the posts have been anti-hip-hop, criticizing the show for not playing as much rock. What's up with that?
"JungleTV is not just a punk or hardcore show," Stankoski explains. "It isn't a locals-only show or a metal show or whatever. I understand that you can't be all things to all people, but there's just too much good music in the world to ignore simply because there's not enough distortion in the guitar. There are a lot more people watching than posting, and we'll continue putting on progressive hip-hop videos or electronic if they're good."
Currently on episode nine, the show is available only in Palm Beach County. But Stankoski hopes to infiltrate Broward in the next three months to expose a whole new crop of freaks to the show. "I haven't gotten any weird videos sent to me yet," Stankoski laughs, "but I'm sure when we get to Broward, we will. I can't wait."
That means you may finally be able to see videos from bands like Sound of Shoving, Garden Hosebag, or the sorely underrated Hamster Lung. Keep an eye out and visit www.jungletv.com for more information and showtimes.