Frequently Asked Questions

What is KVSC's Annual Trivia Weekend?
It is a 50 hour trivia marathon created and aired on KVSC 88.1 FM in St. Cloud, MN. KVSC is a public educational radio station located on the campus of St. Cloud State University. The contest runs in early February and started in 1980.
In a nutshell, somewhere between 8 and 10 questions are asked each hour and points are awarded for each correct answer, ranging from 5 points to 500. Registered teams of unlimited size try to answer as many questions as possible before time runs out. At the end of 50 hours the team with the most points wins, there is an awards ceremony and everyone of age heads for the bar to hail the winners, razz the losers and dance their tired butts off to the music of the Shake a Hamster Band.
For more information visit KVSC-FM.
What is the Shake a Hamster Band?
We are a group of professional musicians many of whom are affiliated with KVSC either as volunteers or staff. We love Trivia Weekend! We say "no" to other paying gigs at this time of year so that we can devote our time to making the trivia experience just a little bit more fun for all involved.
Who is in the band?
That's kind of a tough question to answer. For one thing, the band has been around for a long time, members have come and gone, some were brought in as special guests and others keep coming back year after year, and for another thing we all decided long ago to use the surname "Hamster" in order to maintain at least some illusion of anonymity.
That being said…
Nature Hamster is undoubtedly the father of the band, he recorded the first song in 1988 and handles most of the rhythm guitar and lead & backing vocals. Muggsy Hamster joined the next year and never left, you might say he's the band's mother, he plays lead guitar and sings. Ted Hamster is the bass player and sings as well. George Hamster plays keyboards and does a bit of singing as well.
Like the mythical band Spinal Tap we can't seem to hold onto a drummer for very long, fortunately none of them met any nasty ends, but we did lose a gall bladder once. The drum throne has been filled by That Skinny Guy from UTVS (we honestly can't remember his name), Scott, another Scott, Billy, Joe, Jendeen, Paul, Pete, Dan, Andy, and currently Duff Hamster.
The Power of Sauerkraut Horns consist of Pat, Steffie, Karl and Slide, who also engineers everything these days, all of them sing. The sax chair has been filled by Andy, Al, Mike another Karl.
The "cast of thousands" is lead by Emily who has come and gone over the years and sings, Jill sings, Richard sings, Princess Cari has been everything from engineer to special sound effects artist. C.T. and Aaron-Keith Hamster were each special guest vocalists.
The list goes on and on. We've been joined assisted in the studio by Andy, Robin, Dean, Ken, Stretch, Paul, Mike and many KVSC announcers and volunteers including Jo McMullen, Al Neff and Dick Hill & the Man in the Box. Our live sound is mixed by Mike Zeleney.
Where did the name come from?
Nature claims Chris Weiss did it, Chris says it was Nature. No one really knows for sure.
How long have you been doing this?
In 1988 the KVSC studios were located in the basement of Centennial Hall in what was then the library. That year the theme was Mission: Trivia, based on the classic 1960s TV show Mission: Impossible (this was 8 years before the films) and Nature Hamster and announcer Jimmy Jonga placed themselves in front of a microphone, set the reel-to-reel to record and improvised a rendition of the show's opening theme, "Muh-muh-mission, muh-muh-mission... triviaaaaaa, trivaaaaaa, triviaaaa..."
And thus the Shake a Hamster Band was born!
Later Nature Hamster grabbed his guitar and they wrote a quick parody of REM's I Am Superman called I Am Triviaman and called it quits for the year.
After that it gets a little fuzzy in our memories, the early years were marked by the move into the present KVSC studios located in Stewart Hall and the veritable whirlwind of songs, people and instrumentation that followed.
How many songs have you recorded?
We tend to average about 6 or 7 songs a years, we've done more and we've done fewer, all in all we have recorded well over 150 songs over the years.
How and when do the songs get recorded?
Throughout the year we keep our little hamster ears open for ideas. Mostly we like to stick to classic rock and pop tunes, things with staying power that are instantly recognizable to the average listener. That doesn't mean we haven't made a foray or two into more "modern" songs, but heck, most of those are either new classics or have faded into obscurity where they probably belong.
Each year we come in with a list of possible songs to parody, some of them are instantly latched onto by the whole group, others may have a particular band member lobbying pretty hard for them, and then there are those that are deemed not "good enough," meaning there's no "sustainable" joke. Still others are simply beyond our technical skills.
The most important element is the "hook." A parody without a good joke is pointless so we look for something funny, typically in the chorus. The songs with the best hooks are usually considered first.
We burn a CD of the originals or load them onto an iPod and when we're all together we decide which song we're going to do and give it a listen. The key and form are figured out and we practice the song a couple of times with the recording and then a couple of times without, then press record. Once the basic tracks are down the band splits up, some members work on the next song, others go off and work on the lyrics.
The most invaluable assets the Hamsters own are rhyming dictionaries! We try to keep as close as possible to the original rhyme structure, "I'm gonna get that girl no matter what I do" becomes "I'm gonna feed that squirrel a stirfry with cashews" (it's close enough). Then we try to fit in any joke or pun we can think of that has to do with trivia: KVSC, staying awake for long stretches, body odors, beer, pot, coffee, pizza, feet, books, phones, internet connections, etc. We want to make the subject matter familiar to the teams who are playing even though we're not always successful. We write lyrics, edit them, and eventually come up with a final version to be sung. Pretty much everybody throws ideas around and has a hand in writing the final lyrics.
The lead vocalist goes into the booth and sings the new lyrics. After that we add background vocals, shakers, tambourines, handclaps, pirate sounds, sheep sounds, chicken horns, whatever is required to make our version as close to the original song as possible, but with our own "Hamsterisms" thrown in. There's even one song that features the sound of George Hamster being repeatedly smacked on the ass - we'll let you figure out which one on your own.
After all the tracking is done, Slide Hamster goes to work mixing the song. He tries to get everything as close to the original as he can given our equipment, finalizes everything and gets the song ready to be aired. Then it's off to the on-air studio to beg the announcers for some precious airtime and the song is played for the masses.
With only a few exceptions all tracks are produced on site during the trivia contest.
Where can I find the lyrics?
The short answer is: you can't. Sometimes our lyrics are used as trivia questions, and the last thing we want is a searchable database of them. Sorry, but you'll just have to listen closely, and pick them out as best you can.
Are you insane? Why do you do this?
Okay, that's two questions, but it sure beats hell out of cabin fever.
Where is my favorite song?
We've tried to gather every tune we could find, we even had some sent to us from some trivia players and KVSC volunteers, but there are still some missing songs, they are probably lost in time or they got erased somewhere along the line. If you have something in your personal collection that you don't see on this web site, please contact us.
Can I make a tune suggestion?
You can, but we don't promise to do it. We're always willing to entertain suggestions, but we can't get to every one. Please don't take it personally if we don't take your suggestion. Here are some guidelines: the song should be instantly recongnizable to the widest possible audience (just because you know a particular song doesn't mean that everyone does), you should have a "hook" or joke that ties the song together, a full set of lyrics is always a plus. You can submit your suggestion via our contact page. Good luck!