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For whatever reason, this is the time of the year, when too many of my radio friends, lose their jobs. I have always been a massive fan of Radio. It got me through many tough times as a kid. It matters to more people than the businessmen may know. And so, a few years ago, while I was actually sitting in a studio, working on Christmas Eve…the *only* *live* Radio Personality on the air in the city that night, I composed this.
Each Holiday Season since, I post it somewhere. My small gift, to those that love what we do.
(With All Respect & Credit to Clement Clarke Moore)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the station
Not a creature was stirring, ’twas all automation.
The phone lines they rang, but no one was there,
The dopes that cleaned house, just didn’t care.
The listeners were calling, with songs in their heads,
With pre-rehearsed audio, turned up instead.
My mom in her ‘kitchen, her foot she would tap,
How sad she would be to put up with this crap.
When we were all young, we heard music that mattered,
The DJ announced it, with relevant chatter.
Away to the speaker, I flew like a flash
Cranked up the Zeppelin, The Who, and The Clash.
The tunes were the best, we loved all the shows
The DJ in mid-day, their name we’d all know.
When, what to my pondering ears should I hear?
The irrelevant voice, of a guy, not from here.
With so little to tell me, ‘bout the town that I live,
I knew there and then, not a care could I give.
More vapid, and useless, his statements the same
And he screwed up announcing, from where we all came
“North KWINsee! BURgundy,” The idiot, blubbers
And all I can think of is, “find me another!”
‘Round the dial do I search, how the mighty they fall!
They chase away! Chase away! Chased away all!”
‘Cos DJs of yore, were stewards of song,
And they knew that their listeners, were singing along
But now those at the top-the costs they eschew,
With the ouster of people, the revenues grew.
And then, someone thought, “shouldn’t radio be live?”
The future demands we adapt to survive.
And I knew in my head, and was hoping again,
That the stations would resolve, to entertain us as friends.
See radio’s unlike anything else, this I feel in my heart,
And to fix it, demands we go back to the start.
With DJs, and music, and stories to share,
And doing it right, by people who care.
These barons on Wall St. don’t know how it’s done!
Connection with people’s how this game is won!
We know that good music, it touches the heart,
Respect for the product is only one part.
To start we could try hearing, the voices who say,
That the songs that they want, are those we should play.
Because what works in Boston, may not in LA,
Take those national playlists, and throw them away!
We’ve been lazy, and cheap, and forgot why we’re here,
To host every party, and toast them with cheer!
It’s not all that hard to get people to care
But, in order to serve them, you’ve gotta be there.
So let’s hope that they get right to this work,
And fill all the stations, with more than a clerk.
Start playing fresh music, and let the reigns go,
And bring back the DJ their audience know!
It’s not yet too late, will take quite some hustle,
And the first social network can re-flex its muscle.
So I say to you now…Do radio right
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”
Well…*This,* I did not expect!
In a sudden reversal of fortune, it turns out we didn’t have to leave Phoenix after all! The end of one thing, is always the beginning of another.
With the demise of KDKB I truly thought I was going to have to leave one of the most beautiful places in America. However, the company had other ideas. I met with them, and they floated an idea; Would I be interested in taking over the 7-11p slot on Phoenix’ Classic Rock Station, 100.7 KSLX?
I thought about it, for about 3 seconds. Wasn’t even a question. As I said before, Hubbard Broadcasting are the classiest broadcasting company that I’ve had the opportunity to work with. Even when they fired me, it was done with delicacy. They showed compassion,and genuine concern. I’m humbled to be asked to return. To be welcomed back, is an opportunity I’d have been stupid to refuse.
And so…join me in “The Rock Zone” – weeknights from 7-11 on KSLX!
Feel free to hit the link in the upper right corner, and give a listen.
Thanks for listening…and, checking out the site!
That’s how long it’s taken me to get here. And last night, I had a moment that reminds me why I do this.
I have to set it up…
In 1985, I was in attendance at the WBCN Rock n’ Roll Expo @ the Bayside Exposition Center in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. This was a sort of trade show that masked itself as a cool event where one could go and see a bunch of concerts and buy records. Now that I’m older, I understand that it was a client “job fair” where they could try to sell their gear. The programming folks at WBCN knew they needed to get some bands in there to get listeners to come. I had no clue who any of them were at the time. I was just happy to see my favorite Rock station in my neighborhood. It was close enough that we could walk there.
So, I go.
I walked around the center, and saw the car stereo people, and guitar shops, and smoke shops, and poster hawkers, and there were two stages and I got to see two bands that I still dig to this day; Angel City & Keel.
Neither band are household names. Angel City are actually known outside of America as “The Angels.” Due to an American band owning the name in the US…they make an adjustment here. Keel are one of those Hard Rock/Metal bands that never really got their due. They wrote great songs, had a decent show, and a good following. For a while, they got on MTV with a few videos. Most notably, “The Right To Rock,” “Tears Of Fire” & their cover of both Rose Tattoo’s “Rock n Roll Outlaw” & Patti Smith’s (Bruce Springsteen) “Because The Night.”
When I saw them back in Boston, I had one of those cool moments when you’re a kid, that sets you on a certain path. During the set, the required “throwing out of drumsticks” resulted in yours-truly ending up with Keel drummer, Dwain Miller’s stick. (Cue: Jack Black moment) It was as if I were being selected by the Rock gods, to take that stick forward and preach the gospel of Keel.
And preach it I did.
For the better part of the next 5 years, Keel were my favorite “band nobody’s ever heard of.” That’s not meant to be a slight. But, in the world of Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Warrant, Guns n’ Roses etc, Keel weren’t exactly someone everyone name-dropped. Those that knew, liked ‘em. Those that didn’t, just didn’t pay attention. The band released a string of records. Solid, but no breakout record like Whitesnake. Just a band, working hard to make it. I had several opportunities to meet the band during that time. The stories are fun to us. But, more than likely, uninteresting to you.
Years passed, and the band splintered. Members went their separate ways. You saw their guitarist in both “Wayne’s World” movies. And a few years ago, heard their song “Speed Demon” during the scene with Biz Markie in the mailroom in “Men In Black II.”
Despite being featured as a former heavy metal singer, gone country, occasionally the band would pop up on Metal-related websites and all.
Which brings me to about a month ago…
We got a call from a local promoter asking us if we wanted to feature Queensryche, Great White & Keel as our station Halloween show. We could promote the return of Queensryche to the Valley, and Jani Lane from Warrant was singing for Great White. And as a bonus, Keel were celebrating their 25th Anniversary. It worked out well, and we decided to do the show.
As it turns out, one of the women at the station gets an e-mail from Ron Keel. Oh, did I mention they’re actually a Phoenix band? Yeah. How funny is that? Anyway, Ron Keel says to this woman that he’d love to come by the station. It’s the one he grew up listening to in Phoenix. (insert blatant plug for KDKB here)
So, of course I tell her to ask for his e-mail address, and invite him to hang with me on-air.
Ron, Dwain, and Geno (Keel bassist) come by the station and we spend the better part of an hour promoting the gig, and new record (blatant plug for Keel’s website, here). Some of those aforementioned stories are told, and we had a good time.
Halloween Night comes, and I draw the duty to bring the band onstage. When I get there, Ron Keel hands me a pair of autographed drumsticks from the band. The circle is almost complete (something, something Dark Side!).
Anyway, Ron tells me they have a huge intro tape and he’ll give me the cue to go. I’m standing onstage and waiting. Suddenly AC/DC starts going over the PA, and the stage manager is all up on me to “Go! Go! Go!” So, I’m looking for Ron for my cue. I look down and see Geno Arce (Keel bassist) and he yells up “I guess we have a new intro tape!”
So, I go out and do my thing. I pump the hell out of the band… (blahblahblahblah KEEEEEEL!!!)
Then I run offstage…and into Ron.
“What are ya doin??”
“I was told to go.”
“Well…the stage manager and Geno. I couldn’t find you.”
“Geno’s the bass player man!…We have like a 2 minute intro tape. You gotta do it again!”
“You gotta do it again.”
“OK…you let me know what’s up.”
At this time, one of the promoter’s people steps up to the band. Ron asks “Have we been paid?” The promoter-guy says; “I’m working on that.”
“Oh no…I need (amount edited out of professional courtesy) in my hand right now, or we’re not going onstage!”
…meanwhile, the AC/DC song is coming to an end rapidly.
During this time, I’m telling (Keel guitarist) Bryan Jay, that I’m about to go on stage and relay the events we’re witnessing to the entire crowd as a cover for my fuckup. He says, “Don’t tell anyone I said it was OK!”
Money exchanges hands, and the band is a go!
I’ve got about 20 seconds to tell Ron Keel that I’m telling that story. He’s just looking at me with a stare and a smile like “You wouldn’t!”
I jumped up on stage and said “You are never going to believe this…I just witnessed a moment right out of “Oceans 11.” I stood backstage and watched Ron Keel say to the promoter those four magic words; Pay. Me. My. Money!”
Crowd roars their approval.
“Well…as you can see they’re taking the stage! Someone got paid! Let’s make ‘em feel appreciated now! Please welcome home; KEEEEEL!”
And off they went…
It was a great set. I could have easily spent the entire time standing on stage, and watching. But, just as it was 25 years ago…I went down to the front, and remembered why I do what I do . Because I love music.
There are moments that you always remember. This is not one of those surreal, “I met a legend” moments. This was a real moment. With a real band. Afterward, I officially met Ron’s lovely wife, Renee’. We spoke of insider industry crap that wouldn’t interest you. But, it was the capper on a fun night, with a band that still isn’t a household name. But, I couldn’t care less.
I had a great time! If you were there, I hope you did too. If you weren’t, I’m sure we’ll have pictures up at the station website, or you can hit our Facebook page. I’ll also drop some on my FB page as well…and get the audio uploaded here so you can hear the interview if you’re interested.
One of the jokes of my radio career has been how I never wanted the responsibility of having people’s professional lives to be subject to my scrutiny. I’ve never had any interest in being the guy who had to decide who gets to eat and who doesn’t.
In my new position as Program Director for a 100,000 watt Rock station in America’s 5th largest city, I have come to truly understand the term “You never know who’s listening.” I’ve received calls from the widest variety of people, with the widest tastes in music that I’ve ever known. I’ve also had to, by definition of my job, monitor and keep cognizant of anything we may broadcast that could be in violation of FCC, community, or company standards. I am ultimately responsible for everything that comes out of the speakers of our station.
I’ve also come to realize…when one of our staff members broadcasts something that could possibly cost the company tens-to-hundreds of thousands of dollars, I have to make a decision. Depending on the severity of the infraction, I may have to cap them immediately. It’s not something I relish having to do.
However, I did have to do it this weekend. I won’t get in to the details. But, it came down to this: By their poor decision, this person was jeopardizing not only their job…but the jobs of everyone at the station. Once this fact made itself clear to me…I had no problem making the decision. I love my gig. I have a lot of other people to account for. When one intentionally screws with the lives of many, they have to go. It’s that simple.
Running a radio station is not an easy job. I’m not bitchin’ I think it’s a blast! I’m just sayin’…It’s so much more than just picking music and giving away prizes. I am learning new things and it has opened my eyes to things I never knew. For all of the former bosses I owe a huge “fuck you” to…I owe an equal # of “thank you/I’m sorrys” to the others.
I don’t regret doing what I did. I now know that sometimes you have to make a shit decision for the greater good.
Good Luck Kid…You’re someone else’s blog-fodder now.Read More