Monday, December 28, 2015

Show #141 November 7, 2015

Dedicated to Lola... and all DJ's everywhere!

Lola- Warm Soda Someone For You 
Hold On- David Finnerty and The Jackals Shake Some Action Vol 4 (USA) 
Monday Night- Kurt Baker Play It Cool 
On The Run- Tezer On The Run 7" 
I Must Be Crazy- The Sweat No More Running 
It's a Trap- Nick Piunti Beyond The Static 
She's Cool- Marbles Marbles 
Bright City Lights- The Dahlmanns All Dahled Up 
^Hold On- Badfinger Hold On 
Ready for Action- Lisa Mychols 3 Lisa Mychols 3 - EP 
Hard To Get- Tyrants Teen Line no. 2 
Invisible- Chris Stamey Euphoria 
Gemini- Chris Von Sneidern Sight and Sound 
Camp Hill Operator- Cotton Mather Kontiki 
*Hold On- The Shivvers Til The Word Gets Out 
*Hold On- Pezband Pezband 
*Hold On- Biters All Chewed Up 
*Hold On- Ian Gomm Hold On 
*Hold On- DM3 Garage Sale 
*Hold On- Red Rockers Condition Red 
Fanboy- Greg Pope Fanboy 
Get Some Action- Radio Days Get Some Action 
Generals- The Damned Strawberries  
>Hold On!- Herman's Hermits Hold On! 
Without Love- Tinted Windows Tinted Windows 
Forgive Me- Visqueen Message To Garcia 
Strange Maps- Reno Bo Lessons from a Shooting Star 
The Coolest Drug- The Wellingtons Hey Hey The Wellingtons 
Dream Diary- Rhinos Midsummer Pole of Pop 2015 
Animal- The Rezillos Zero 
Hold On- Greenberry Woods Rapple Dapple 

^Power Pop Peak:  #56 Billboard Hot 100 1/1/81

*SacroSet(s):  Hold On Songs

>Power Pop Prototype:  1966 

I recently met a guy named Rich who worked at Aquarius
Norman Davis in the KSAN days

Records in San Francisco in 1977Aquarius is the oldest record store in the city- opening in the Castro in 1970, then moving to Noe Valley where I first found it in 1993 and finally to the Mission where the store resides today.  One of the regular customers Rich got to know at the store was Norman Davis, a DJ at KSAN the legendary freeform rock radio station that had signed on in 1968.  "Freeform" means the DJ's had 100% creative control over the music they played.  Back in the blog post for Show #55 I talked about "artistic obstructions," a subject I find fascinating.  It boils down to this:  the first decision in any creative endeavor is about what NOT to include- the "artist" sets the limits of the project and then works within them.  Rich told me that Norman Davis' approach on KSAN was to match the ending musical key of the songs he played with the beginning key of the following song.  In other words, segues matched by musical key.  This guy went through all the records the station had with a pitchpipe and wrote down the opening and ending key of each song.  As a lifelong DJ myself this seems like a completely rational thing to do- we are working at a whole other level people!

The freeform rock stations were a national phenomenon but only lasted about ten years.  Their demise seems to have been based on two things.  First, realizing they weren't just a hippie circle jerk and that there was serious money to be made, the corporations that owned the freeformers starting making programming decisions.  Second, the stations did so well they got competitors who "played by the rules."  The end result of both scenarios is the same: narrower playlists and the end of DJ's choosing their own records.  In San Francisco KMEL- The Rock Kamel- signed on in 1977 with a rigidly formatted presentation and tight playlist.  By "tight playlist" I mean the current hit songs are played much more frequently and the library is shrunk down to only the best known titles.  Freeform stations like KSAN played thousands of songs while a station like KMEL probably played only 500 or so, if that.   In a last ditch effort to stay alive KSAN
Jones and Cook seated, with Davis
went heavy into "New Wave" music (so called because "punk rock" was rightfully deemed too scary for Americans).  The station broadcast The Sex Pistols last show on January 14, 1978 and earlier that day guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook did a hilarious interview with... you guessed it, Norman DavisNone of it helped- within two years KSAN was playing country music and the freeform era in San Francisco was over.

When I tell people I work in radio they love com- plaining about how stations "play the same few songs over and over."  I usually just offer a tight smile in response when I really want to punch them in the throatEveryone thinks they are musically adventurous but they really aren't- most people just want to hear what they already know.  When they complain about musical repetition, they are talking about hearing songs they DON'T LIKE over and over because people are just fine hearing their favorite songs again and again... and again.  The fact is, if there is a KSAN and a KMEL, the public will go for KMEL every time.  While this sucks, it is the nature of BROADcasting.  Don't believe me?  I have scientific proof.

Think of the possibilities!!!
Remember these?  In the 90's CD jukeboxes replaced the traditional 45 rpm vinyl jukeboxes.  Rather than having just two songs to choose from, you could pick ANY song from the album!  
"Wow, you mean I can play any song from AC/DC's Back In Black album!?!"

"Why yes, ANY song- what would you like to hear?"

"You Shook Me All Night Long, please!"

"Uh... could I perhaps interest you in Have A Drink On Me or Rock And Roll Ain't Noise PollutionBoth are AWESOME songs!"

"No thanks- I don't know those songs.  You Shook Me All Night Long, please!"

"Say, what about Shoot To ThrillAn all time AC/DC classic- it's in their setlist to this day!  At least Hell's Bells or the song Back In Black?"

"Are we going to have a problem?  Play You Shook Me All Night Long NOW!!! 

As a rabid music fan, I always know what is playing in the background and I can count on one hand the number of obscure album tracks I heard on CD jukeboxes.  My research confirmed that no matter how many millions of copies an album sold- people only want to hear the hits.  So the real answer to the question "why do radio stations play the same few songs over and over?" is "because that's what you want."  Now truth be told, I love "You Shook Me All Night Long" and I enjoy Classic Rock radio now and then but ultimately I want something more.  For that I thank God for non-commercial radio!  When I was in high school Cousin Rich hipped me to Massachusetts Institute of Technology station 88.1 WTBS (now WMBR after making bank selling their call letters to Ted Turner)
which broad- ened my musical horizons preparing me for my four years in college radio at Emerson's 88.9 WERS in Boston.  And these days I'm doing ALL KINDSA GIRLS at 91.3 KSVY in Sonoma.  There's no arguing that radio's ONLY surviving heirs to the legacy of freeform stations like KSAN are found on the "left of the dial."
Links for this week's show are below.  Click to stream or to download, right click and "Save Link As
Hour 1
Hour 2

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