Sometimes the hardest part of being a musician is getting someone to listen. After toiling over sheet music, scribbling lyrics on cocktail napkins and practicing for hours, a band is often left searching for a set of ears. For many Sacramento groups, Andy Hawk provides an audience.
Hawk, the recipient of this year’s Sammie for Special Achievement, first garnered local attention in 2004 when he landed a gig as DJ on 93.7 FM—then KHWD. Though he started with a small time slot, Hawk took advantage of this stint to create his signature show, Punk Rock Academy, which grew to become a unique musical experience in Sacramento radio.
“I didn’t plan on playing anything local,” Hawk recalled in a recent phone interview, “but I just started throwing in local acts next to the national acts. It worked and we got a huge response.”
As the calls began to roll in, Hawk took notice of a developing trend. Sacramento callers wanted to hear their homegrown punk; demands for the Groovie Ghoulies and the Whiskey Rebels rapidly accumulated. Naturally, when demand increases, so must supply—hence Hawk’s next move.
“We started letting bands come on the show. They would co-host the show and get a chance to play live on the radio,” Hawk said.
Besides the rush local punkers got from having their songs broadcast over the airwaves, many gathered a growing fan base from the exposure.
“I think there were people who had heard of us, but not our music. Andy and Punk Rock Academy changed that,” said Danny Secretion of The Secretions. “The iPod generation was tuning into local radio for once. He made kids who normally don’t listen to the radio listen, and I think that was the biggest achievement Andy had. He puts in as much work as a lot of bands out there to spread the news.”
Unfortunately, the radio station powers-that-be tuned out the audience. Despite the fact that Punk Rock Academy had grown to six nights a week, KHWD was transformed to accommodate the nationally distributed Jack-FM format. All live content—including Punk Rock Academy—was, well, jacked.
Hawk stayed on at 93.7 as a producer and programmer. Now he hosts Check Out My Sac! on 93.7’s sister station, KHTK 1140 AM, spotlighting local music on Thursday nights from 11 p.m. to midnight as part of the Carmichael Dave Show. He’s also moved outside the sound booth to local clubs like The Boardwalk and Shakers Neighborhood Pub, where he hosts punk rock shows.
“Sacramento has this horrible rep that there is nothing to do here, and we always hate when we hear people say that,” Hawk said. “If there is a purpose of [my] shows, it’s just to let people know that there is something there. You just have to look and find it.”