"Yoga, long known as the art form to balance the body and mind," intones a gruff voice on the radio. "Well that's great for the ladies and sissy boys, but what about the manly men?"
The voice continues to describe a workout regimen that includes being burned with cigarettes, squeezing scorpions and injecting protein shakes directly into your chest. If Viper Cobra's Badass Yoga Studio sounds too good to be true, that's because it is.
It's Thursday night, and WHAN-AM 1430's Radio Rubber Room is live on the air in Ashland. The two-hour show mixes comedy sketches, local music, interviews and fake ads for characters such as the "extreme yoga professional" Viper Cobra. Other characters include Radley Rockwell, a senile rock musician who advises bands, and Benjamin Hitler, a cupcake baker born with an unfortunate last name.
"We try not to be too controversial," says Shaun Austin, the show's creative engineer. Group members cite sketch comedy shows such as "Saturday Night Live" and "MADtv" as influences. "Usually everything is lighthearted and goofy."
But humor is only part of the mission. The show's main goal is to highlight the area's music scene. Recordings, live performances and interviews help promote local musicians. "It's always going to be about the Richmond music scene," Derrick Vara says. "We want to give as much attention to the music as we can."
The show mainly attracts local faces, but has featured some out-of-towners as well.
"Dane [Cook] just showed up at a show one night," says Vara, the show's music director. In an effort to make him feel comfortable, they asked him to eat a hot dog. "Dane's awesome, and he's a fantastic songwriter."
In addition to the radio show, Radio Rubber Room also plays host to shows at the Republic on Wednesdays, and the monthly Richmond Music Revue at the Tobacco Company. The crew records and photographs every music act free.
Justin Lewis, Radio Rubber Room's sound engineer and producer for its recorded skits and live shows, says he immediately was impressed when the group outlined its vision to him. "I think it's great what they're doing," Lewis says. "Everyone's trying to do things together, rather than compete. They're just good guys to work with."
In addition to its live AM broadcast, the show also airs on 102.9 FM and is available as a podcast.
"People from all around are just starting to get to know these fantastic bands," Vara says. "This is a happening music scene. I think some people don't realize how talented it is." S
"Radio Rubber Room" airs Thursdays from 10 p.m.-midnight on 102.9 FM and is available as a podcast at radiorubberroom.podbean.com. Radio Rubber Room holds shows at the Republic every Wednesday at 10 p.m., and "Richmond Music Revue" at the Tobacco Company on the third Sunday of each month.