Maximum Distortion: Utah’s Metal Valhalla Celebrates Seven Years on the Air
Outsiders may be deceived, but Salt Lake City loves its fucking heavy metal. We also have some of the most dedicated torchbearers calling our scene home. Two of these pioneers have been broadcasting brutality every Wednesday night from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. for seven years on KRCL: Forgach and Cody D, the DJs behind Maximum Distortion.
Metal has long been a part of Forgach’s life. In fact, he was on-staff at SLUG Magazine for almost ten years, covering the scene in the column “Written In Blood” until then-owner Gianni Ellefsen became music director at the non-profit radio station, KRCL, and approached Forgach with an idea. “He decided he wanted to shake things up a bit here and start a metal show,” says Forgach. He immediately called his friend, Cody D, whom he’d met in ’99 when the two started reminiscing about the old-school metal bands they both grew up loving. He wanted Cody D to be a part of this new endeavor.
“I love radio, but I never dreamt I’d have an opportunity like this,” says Cody D. At first, the program director wasn’t on board with a two-man metal show, leaving Forgach solo at the helm for six months. Cody D would regularly drop in during the last hour of broadcasting and, eventually, earlier and earlier, until he became as imperative to the show as the music. Despite having no experience in radio—“We walked in the door with nothing,” says Cody D—they pushed through with their vision to create a community radio show centered on heavy metal, a rarity both for the usually tame KRCL lineup, and for Salt Lake. There is no other radio show in the state that plays the heavy music Maximum Distortion has built its reputation on.
While the core of their programming is part new-release showcase, part personal playlist, listeners at large can affect the week’s show by requesting songs on the show’s phone line or Facebook page. “We wanted to build on the type of metal we are both into, but it’s also a community radio show, so we love the idea of taking requests,” says Forgach. “Sometimes 30 percent of the show will be requests we’ve taken. We’ll often take as many as we can fit. Sometimes it’s way more than we can fit, and sometimes we barely get any calls—it’s a crapshoot. There’s no rhyme or reason to it.”
The other unbeatable element of the show is, of course, the badass, on-air talent. Forgach and Cody D riff off each other during show segments, talk both local and national sports and finish each other’s thoughts like an old married couple from Hell. Listeners also get the joyful glee of hearing tracks from unreleased albums like Fear Factory’s upcoming The Industrialist. “That’s kind of been the hallmark of the show, our ability to get advance copies. We do a segment called ‘Radio Show From The Future’ where I specifically pull stuff that we’re technically not supposed to play, and we’ll play it,” says Forgach. Airtime on Maximum Distortion isn’t limited to signed acts: Maximum Distortion is a huge supporter of the local metal scene, too. Bands need only send their music to the show to get a shot at some awesome radio exposure right to their target audience.
Even though their seventh anniversary approaches, the two are planning only business as usual for their demanding show. “Seven years is a long fucking time. It’s a grind,” says Forgach. “We didn’t think it would be as much of a struggle as it is this far into it, but we literally have to babysit and coddle everything about it, and not even just the show aspect, but the marketing aspect. If we don’t constantly get the name out there, it seems like it just goes away. It’s brutal.”
The Internet environment has also been a double-edged sword, allowing them to reach new audiences and giving them new ways to take community requests, but preventing them from having the drawing power for bands that radio once had. “Social media has also been our nemesis because, with all the sites that bands can post their stuff on, they don’t necessarily care about getting their music to us on the show so much. It’s helpful, but it’s also detrimental,” says Cody D.
They are a prime example of dedication to the culture, of rare determination in an industry that takes no quarter. Despite the strife, they’ve been able to build a unique showcase they continue to be proud of, at a station that appreciates their work. “[KRCL] gave us complete freedom, allowing the show to develop naturally over time, which may not be the most efficient way, but it has given us the opportunity to benefit from—and thrive in, to an extent—a very unique situation,” says Forgach.
Salt Lake City may not be synonymous with “metal utopia” yet, but we sure as hell have relentless allies in Forgach and Cody D, who, for seven years and counting, are going above and beyond to change that. Folks of this caliber are precisely why metal will never die.