Basement to web: Iconoclast Deirdre O’Donoghue’s SNAP archives resurface

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In the 1980s to 1991, SNAP was KCRW’s weekly three-hour love letter to alternative music and independent culture both locally and around the world. Illustration by KCRW.

SNAP, hosted by Deirdre O’Donoghue, premiered on KCRW in 1982 and ran through 1991. It was a weekly three-hour love letter to alternative music and independent culture both locally and around the world. In that pre-internet era, O’Donoghue worked exceptionally hard to find new music and talent through travel, swap meets, mail order, word of mouth, and more. And for nine years, she brought her musical treasures to the air from the basement of Santa Monica College. 

Myke Dodge Weiskopf, KCRW’s senior music department producer, discovered SNAP in the mid 80s far from LA. “I went to a record convention in some suburban motel ballroom,” he notes. “And I happened upon some [bootleg] tapes of her live performances. They expanded beyond the bounds of Southern California to the tape network, which allowed folks like me and misfits from other places to hear the music that Deirdre was playing and the bands that she was playing. Thanks to her influence, a lot of those bands then went on to have bigger careers, and they ended up in the living rooms of people like me.”

He, along with Unfictional host and former SNAP engineer Bob Carlson, spent much of the early pandemic mastering SNAP’s archives from reel to reel tapes and cassettes that had been left behind. Featuring live recordings of bands like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, REM, The Meat Puppets, and more, the shows, interviews, and performances are all now online for anyone to stream.

Once done with the digitizing, Weiskopf began to reach out to the bands who came through the basement to interview them for the archival project. He says of that experience: “I think even now she still has this power of what she represented and who she was as a person that artists responded to so strongly, and they still think of her with a great fondness.” 

He believes O’Donoghue’s impact is still felt.

“She really was there at the birth of so many micro genres and scenes both here in LA and abroad. And in her own way, she represents so much of that entire span of time, because she was so instrumental in bringing so much of that music out there.”