|Oil of Dog
|Links Under Construction Contact|
A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO
After I was hired by Wizard, I wrote the following essay. I wrote it because I was happy. I wrote it because I believed in and admired my employer. I called it “Disclaimer” because I knew if they were to ever read this book they might be offended by the things I say about commercial radio. I wanted them to know I thought they were different. I also wanted to account for my naiveté about the workings of commercial radio. God, I was stupid as hell.
Most of this book is about my Oil of Dog years at Public Radio WBFO, Buffalo, 88.7 on your FM dial. Most of the original drafts were written while I still worked at WBFO. During that time I never believed I would be a disc jockey except at a non-commercial station. The last non-commercial Oil of Dog took place June 1, 1980, five and a half years to the day after the first. Several wonderful friends and strangers called or came to celebrate bringing cake and tears and doughnuts and smiles and coffee. I made certain to play “Please Don’t Pass Me By” by Leonard Cohen and “Mr. Radio” by The Electric Light Orchestra.
Many things have changed. It is now August, 1980. I am still doing Oil of Dog but I work at a commercial station, WZIR, Niagara Falls – Wizard Radio – 98 plus on your FM dial. Throughout this paper I say many horrible things about commercial radio and the people who run commercial stations. But the people with and for whom I work now are exceptions to these generalizations. They seem to see the fun and the power of radio beyond its mere money-making utility. They seem to believe in music and art. I am the music director. Oil of Dog is still hard core progressive but it starts at midnight. I am in charge of building the record library. They seem to like my work and they pay me a regular salary with health benefits. It is all too good to be true.
The station is 46,000 watts and may be accessible to two or three million people. It is very well promoted. The owners live in Buffalo and have made courageous personal investments in this project. They do not own a huge corporate chain of stations unlike most of the out-of-town slobs who control the media in this city. The owners have spent their weekends installing insulation, laying bathroom tiles, stripping asbestos. The operations director who created the format is brilliant and tireless, and beyond that is one of the greatest dreamers in all of broadcasting. The program director who took his place is very experienced in commercial radio, a thoughtful counterpart to my hysterical non-commercial sensibilities. The salespeople are lovers of music and are doubly eager to preserve the integrity of the format while selling airtime. It is all too good to be true.
The engineers are mysterious craftsmen who are completely detached from Programming; they stand about with their hands on their chins speaking few words and they created beautiful studios that are a marvel to see as well as hear. We even have a loud-mouthed grey pussy cat named Wizard who loves to munch up living mouses and then puke up their carcasses for the people to step on.. It is all too good to be true.
I am already realizing how naive I was with my non-commercial eyes and ears about the necessary compromises of commercial radio. I feel a little silly about some of the strong statements I make in this book. I am learning a great deal about walking that thin line between the realities of business and the integrity of the art. My relationship with some of the record promoters has also changed since I am now music director of a large commercial station. It is all too good to be true.
Despite these changes of circumstances and awareness, I have decided to leave this work as originally written – stories about all night radio in an emphatically uncompromising idealistic no holds barred situation. It is all too good to be true.
|Image under construction.
ERNEST BLOCH – “Concerto Grosso for Strings with Piano Obligato.”
The strident unison themes of the prelude, the warm and sad resolution of the dirge, weeping gypsy Jewish violins, those shimmering violins, melodies that remind me of falling in love, dancing – they are called “rustic dances” – stately dances as if for a wedding, the fugue, the wonderful inevitable fugue, the declamatory strumping finale.
There is something about the concerto grosso – as a form – that has inspired a great deal of music that I in turn find most inspiring. A daring artist will constrict himself, bind himself to a form – the sonneteer’s 14 line iambic pentameter Italian rhyme – and from this constriction will be distilled intangible feeling, a perfectly articulated passion. Our feelings are so elusive and amorphous they must be conveyed in the context of a highly disciplined backdrop or frame in order to be comprehensible to others.
I could not define a concerto grosso, I do not know the rules for the form. And yet I know when I hear one. Some of the most inspiring compositions by the baroque Italian “-ellies” – Corelli, Lackatelli, Torelli – and by Handel and Vivaldi – are of this form. The one I am playing at this moment is, however, from 1924. But it still has that special grossoesque quality.
Concerto grossi are usually for string orchestras and the fact that I am a string player must have something to do with my affinity for the form. The solos for violins, viola, and cello are always so tuneful and intricate; the movements from few to many are so lush and textured. These pieces are almost archetypal to me. I carry the melodies of specific works – Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto,” Vivaldi’s “Spring,” Handel’s “Concerto Grosso No. 3, in E Minor” – with me everywhere. I whistle my own improvised concerti as I walk. It is as if the form explains – leads to other truths. It is as a musician too that I love these works, they are always so playable. I have performed many of these in orchestras including this masterpiece by Bloch.
A girl calls. Loves it. Wants to hear it again.
|A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO
WELL IT WAS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
I want to spill this out fast. I am overwhelmed by sadness.
What a station we created. It was wonderful. I’ll bet it was crazier and more entertaining than anything in the country with all kinds of music, even folk and blues and reggae in regular rotation, wild insane air personalities and totally indulgent specialty shows. This won’t be well written. I want to spill this out fast. I think back that whole year. How far and near it seems.
For an entire year, I killed myself at Wizard. I spent eighty hours a week doing my show, listening to music, learning the peculiarities of commercial radio, helping revise and improve the format, building a record library, meeting with record promoters, living the music.
Calling the record promoters and hearing their shock and amazement that I would be permitted to pilot the music on a commercial station, having some tell me outright they would refuse to help me. In the whole goddamned music industry I encountered only seven major label representatives who helped us from the start and followed us through to the end. Seven out of hundreds of major label reps who were real professionals, who gave us promotions, bought commercial time, who called every week, who sent me enough copies of each record, who understood and appreciated what we were trying to do, WHO ACTUALLY WANTED A RADIO STATION THAT PLAYED MUSIC. THERE WERE ONLY SEVEN PROMOTERS WHO GAVE A REAL SHIT ABOUT MUSIC IN THE WHOLE FUCKING MUSIC INDUSTRY.
I’ll even tell you their names: Kevin Sutter of Epic, Bruce Moser an independent promoter, Steve Leeds, an independent and his assistant Arlene, Steve Knill of MCA, Jack Springer of Progress Distribution, and Michael Plen of IRS. Some promoters came around later after I began reporting our playlists to trade journals, but these were the only ones who from the start cared only for the fact that we played music. I will never understand the lies and indifference and hostility I received from most other promoters. I will never understand this in all my life, I will never understand why record companies don’t want radio stations to play and sell their records. Because even if we were completely insane, even if we were anti-commercial, even if we were absolutely inept – WHEN WZIR PLAYED RECORDS THEY WOULD SELL. Significant amounts of actual money changed hands in record stores as a direct result of our programing. I will never understand why the record companies did not want a station like ours to exist.
Our first day on the air. Playing “Psycho Chicken” by the Fools – an obnoxious spoof of Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” – over and over, for fourteen hours straight. This stunt – a brilliant promotion created by Bob Allen – was reported in newspapers across the country and the song became a top request item in stores and at other stations for months after.
No sleep for days and days because I worked so hard.
When it was created the station didn’t have a single rock record. I spent hundreds of hours searching the record stores, writing letters and pestering record companies, building an archive of fabulous music. A comprehensive comedy collection, the lovely beginnings of a folk and blues and reggae and jazz collection. And marvelous records that no other station would ever play like Essential Logic and Armageddon and Steeleye Span and Buffy Saint Marie. And records that no one in their right mind would play like Dino, Desi and Billy and Devils Anvil and Tucky Buzzard. John Farrell laughed and laughed at me. Nobody will ever want to hear Tucky Buzzard he sneered. You just wait, I said. I vowed never to play or mention Tucky Buzzard until I got a request for it.
|At one point during the conversation, Clement Burke, the drummer of Blondie, outlines the complete recording career of Dino Danelli (Young Rascals, Bulldog, Fotomaker, etc.)
Gary: Uh oh, we have a rock’n’roll fan here.
Chris Stein, of Blondie: Encyclopedia is more like it.
G: That’s one thing abo-, y-your sound sounds so familiar, and yet it’s like nothing else I’ve ever heard. Like when somebody says would say What are the roots of Blondie, what would you say?
Ch: Rock’n’roll all sounds the same.
Ch: Y’know, there’s nothing else to say about it.
Ch: Well, it’s the format, y’know, like you’re gonna work within the format, you’re bound to hear things that are similar to other people’s stuff.
Clem: We just, um, assimilated all the music. Rock’n’roll is relatively a new art form since it’s only about twenty years old and, uh, it’s easy to like chronologically have the whole thing in perspective and assimilate it all. It’s pretty easy ‘cause there are only twenty years, y’know. It’s a lot easier than, ah, Greek culture or something like that.
G: Hahahaha. That’s a good answer. I always thought “What are your roots?” was sort of a, I never did get a good answer on that. That’s a good answer.
A letter in response to the achingly beautiful Second Symphony, known as “The Hymn of Praise” by Felix Mendelssohn.
I heard thee. This is Thursday A.M. There are people very superior to give color and change present thought. Most, do not comprehend we are now in solemn hours and emergencies are in a certain state of mind. Serenity may be brought by attributes of friends which continuously in my case are at WBFO. They are Kings of the world and brot color back present thought to nature and art persuade cheerful serenity with sounds of old. I don’t realize I have friends who care! Its amazing to me how it feels the station speaks to me and makes me feel like a person again, bring back my own individuality. Your instinct is sure and have the subconscious reaches to me in diversion to what is now. I thank you for caring and being so nice to me so many years.
|Image under construction.|
|A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO – CONTINUED
The hundred thousand dollars the management was rumored to have spent hiring an advertising agency to give the station its initial burst of publicity. One day someone from the agency called me asking if I had any images they could use for an animated television commercial they were creating for WZIR. I was the only person they knew who had any pictures of rock musicians. This agency had made a name for itself with a clever campaign for an amusement park but they obviously had no comprehension of the progressive radio format they were hired to promote. They came up with the idea of calling the station “Your Hotspot at 98 plus” with an orange circle of “heat” being the logo. A typical AM radio type promotion. They completely ignored the idea of calling the station “Wizard” even after Bob Allen yelled at them and it was pretty clear the public had already latched on to the Wizard logo that was on 20,000 fliers that had been spread around town.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the whole gigantic campaign couldn’t have been more stupidly and brainlessly ill-timed. There we were, with a totally new absolutely untried format, an incomplete record library, new personnel, newly installed equipment, newly built studios, an untrained sales staff and they were bringing the ears of the world to us with a huge campaign that began the first day we were on the air. I remember begging Bob Allen – Please! You’ve got to stop them from doing those billboards and TV ads, we’re not ready, we’ve got to work out the bugs, I’m not sure if this system we’ve created is going to sound good. I tried and tried, said Bob, they just won’t listen, any idiot business man knows you don’t hold your Grand Opening until a few months after you’ve opened the doors.
This incredibly expensive Hotspot campaign muddled from the start the wide-world-of-rock’n’roll image we desperately needed to establish. Anyone who tuned in heard a confused and unprofessional sounding station that had been given no chance to find itself. The unintelligible Hotspot campaign was quietly dropped a few months after we went on the air. Few people can know the exquisite feeling of helplessly watching someone throw a hundred thousand dollars into the garbage only to later be blamed for the waste. The problem was not “too broad a spectrum of music.” It was another chapter in the Another-Bunch-of-Managers-Too-Stupid-Even-to-Manage-a-Filing-Cabinet saga.
The wild and crazy George Prentice, part toilet comedian, part newsman, part Johnny Carson, part telephone talk show host, part lifestyle reporter, total zane. What hilarious brilliant energy he had, so much of it wasted by people who didn’t understand his potential.
My cavalier attitude in adding records for airplay. We played the Dead Kennedys, The Flesh Eaters, Pierre Bensusan, The New Grass Revival, Black Uhuru, The Residents, Janis Ian, Chris Williamson, Peggy Seger, MX-80 Sound, Tygers of Pan Tang. I know, I know, I expected too much. I know I was at fault here. Though I believe the problem was not so much what we played as how the unusual music was marketed by Management. We did not properly package this product. Even if the music had been made radically conservative, I have no doubt the station would still have failed because of mismanagement.
The first survey – a telephone co-incidental – conducted by our fucking buddies at Arbitron who called people at random asking them what station they were listening to at that moment. A phenomenal 3.7 percent said it was Wizard, an almost miraculous response for a new station.
The delays that made it impossible for Wizard to benefit from the long promised power increase. It was impossible to receive the station’s signal in many geographical areas of the Buffalo market. The power boost would have meant a 46,000 watt circular polarized signal which would have given us complete coverage throughout Western New York and obviously improved our ratings. The power increase was not put into effect until after the format was killed.
Playing “Another One Rides the Bus” by Weird Al Yankovic instead of “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen.
The weekend Beatles special with Mark the Beatlemaniac, a collector who presented five hours of outtakes, rarities, interviews, stories, and comparisons between stereo and monaural versions of the Beatles’ music. One of the all time most golden moments in the Beatle programming that ever was.
My outrageous playlists with records that no other commercial station would permit in the door. I provided addresses of little labels and lists of music played on specialty shows. No other playlist in the country included Lothar and The Hand People, Gordon Bok, Henry Cow, Public Image Ltd., REO Speedwagon (prior to “Keep On Loving You”), Pat Metheny, and Albert Collins. The haters of music at the big record companies thought we were nuts. The little record companies loved us.
The wonderful Dr. Demento and the day he visited the station. How fascinating and full of knowledge he was. The greatest vinyl junkie the world will ever know.
|The crowd is waiting for the J. Geils Band. A girl with a pretty roundish face, small freckly turned up nose, blonde hair in ponytails, slim reaching form appears to my right. She must be Polish. So many blonde beautiful Buffalo girls are Polish. Her shirt is unbuttoned all the way and tied to her waist and I take one look and my dick flies. The J. Geils Band boogies on and she dances, she is having a good time. Here I am, my shorts visibly bulging but I don’t care, I want her to know she makes me so horny I can hardly stand it. Her blue jean shorts and that blue shirt and all that warm skin. She holds her arms at right angles and shakes at the waist. Back and forth her breasts so small and pretty back and forth showing almost showing just a bit of an inch more and she would show just a bit more and she rocks and smiles to the protruding beat and she looks at me and I keep looking at her trying to make my movements casual trying not to go to pieces next to that shirt almost off oh my god. The crowd, bless them, push me near her I feel her bare arm brush my bare chest warm skin OH GOD I would die to touch her so I maneuver and the sun and her skin and her arm and the pores of our skin and she leans back throwing her arms back pulling her shirt open and showing more of that skin more of those breasts just a bit of an inch more and she would show GOD I WANT TO TOUCH HER and she loses her balance and I catch her hand and she looks at me smiling and looks away. OH I WOULD PULL HER TO ME I don’t like the music but I act like a boogie brain so I will not seem the uptight dying knot of love that I am and we are having a great time my dick flying and her breasts in the air in the pounding sound in the sun and GOD I AM HORNY. And some shirtless dark macho guy all hairy chested comes up behind her and she notices him and turns away from me BUT I DON’T CARE THAT SHE KNOWS GODDAMNIT I AM NOT COOL I AM NOT MACHO I’M JUST FUCKING HORNY. She shares dope with him. I love those breasts like I never loved a song. The band leaves the stage and she goes away alone never to be seen again.|
|Image under construction.||
JACK BRUCE is one of the greatest songwriters in the rock’n’roll world. He is more memorab1e I think for his songs than for his amazing musicianship. But how strange his songs are, how weird and jangling his production, and that harsh voice with which he croons, the complex beats, the sudden changes in direction, the chord progressions your ear must chase, the enigmatic words. “Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune” he sings to blatting horns.
Figure 39: The provocative Oil of Dog T-Shirt logo that captured my soul, created by Mark Stack. (Photo by Zowie.)
|A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO – CONTINUED
The crazy temperament of Bob Allen ultimately cost him his job. He was a brilliant and difficult man, sometimes inspirational in the directions he was taking the station, sometimes completely misguided. It did not help that he was a sociopath and a sexual predator of young boys. Certainly his whacked out energy was just too much for the reserved three-piece suits who owned the station. For the short time Bob Allen was at Wizard, I did not get to know him at all. Of what I perceived, I found him to be admirable. I did not learn how unscrupulous, perverse, dishonest, and destructive he was until I became involved in his next radio project, WUWU-FM. If you are wondering how I can get away with saying these things, it is because he is dead. He committed suicide. It was his last and truest gift to the world.
I will never forget walking in one day and finding Jim Santella doing Bob’s shift. What are you doing here? Bob was fired. Whaaa--?? Just that morning, Bob had spoken to the owner about an appearance on his telephone talk show (the one inherited by George Prentice). Sure, how about in two weeks, said the owner. That same afternoon he was called into the office to be greeted by a lawyer and two boxes for his belongings. The armed guard they hired for a month after that. I have never seen anyone who worked so hard and was treated with more dishonor than Bob Allen.
The day Bob MacRaethe new program director who replaced Bob Allen walked into the station with his characteristic leather satchel. He was quiet and thoughtful, the most diplomatic person I have ever met. In fact, he was too diplomatic. He had a pleasant friendly manner on the air. I wish the management had not wasted so much of his time with silly chores and bad promotions. I needed a foil – someone to more quickly and decisively focus my insanity. He was not have enough decisiveness of character or understanding of progressive radio to temper my idealism. Still MacRae brought good changes to the place and was a congenial envoy between the dedicated loonies in programming and the starchy management who didn’t have the slightest comprehension of what we were about.
|MICHAEL MCCLURE – CONTINUED
Gary: Jack Kerouac, and Charles Olson, Robert Creeley are jazz poets.
Michael McClure: Absolutely.
G: But – now this is just personal for me – I’ve always thought of you as a rock’n’roll poet, haha. I thought if there is any poet I could name as a rock’n’roll poet up til of course, y’know, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, people like that, then Michael McClure is the rock’n’roll poet. What, how-how does that sit with you?
M: Well, I don’t know. I’ve always thought of myself in my beginnings as a jazz poet. (At this point, the mike shorts out and we pause while I change into a cooler shirt and flip the cassette.)
G: Back on the air.
M: Well, y-you know I’ve shared with Creeley, ahh . . . . . inspir-the inspiration from, ah, cool jazz – in other words and-and from bop, particularly when I was very young, uh, bop was a major influence of mine in the sense that I went to black clubs where bop was played in the Middle West by a lot of be¬boppers who were run out of Kansas City. I was living in Wichita, Kansas.
G: What year was this about?
M: Oh, you don’t really want to know, hahahaha. It was a lo- . . . . .
G: It had to be well it was probably pre-rock’n’roll right?
M: Well, let me see, it would be – I’m talking about 1950.
G: Uh huh. Yeah, there was no rock’n’roll back then.
M: No much.
M: In 1950, I-I was listening to bop being played in black clubs in the Middle West, and listening to Monk and listening to records of Parker. And then after that, ah, it was very easy to listen to-to a pa-t-to Miles Davis and Bud Powell and I felt a great kinship with those people. And when I first discovered Robert Creeley’s poetry, I recognized in Creeley – not immediately but pretty quickly – that-there-was, that we were really sharing origins. And at about the same time that I read Robert Creeley’s poetry for the first time, I wrote this poem called “A Night in Tunisia” which, of course, is taken from a-an old i-early jazzy song. (He recites the poem from memory.) And I thought that that was like Davis, for instance. And I wrote that about, ahaha 1954, 1950. I think we’re into dates and things.
G: I was three years old.
M: Yeah? How about that. And in regard to being a rock’n’roll poet, I was part of the rock’n’roll scene in San Franscico. I was like a . . . . . what would you say – I was like a beatnik, hippie prince or something, in the Haight-Ashbury scene – when that was happening. So I, y’know, like went to-the-first, I went to the first, ahh, rehearsal of Big Brother and The Holding Company and went to some of the earliest, ah, performances of ah-ah, Jefferson Airplane. They even had a different singer then. Her name was Signe.
G: Right, yeah.
M: And, um I got to hear, um, groups that have disappeared, like the Charlatans and, of course, knew Janis Joplin, and went to hear the Grateful Dead all the time. I-was, I was very much a part of that scene; but I never thought of my poetry as being related to that scene.
M: My poetry by then was-a, was-a force in itself to me – and had its own powers and its own origins. However, I started I-I had a little rock’n’roll group.
G: You did, really!
M: Yeah, i-probably, probably the most, the craziest one that ever existed.
M: If it were around today, if-we, if we could do it today and the three of us got together, we would be new wave.
G: Yes? What was it called?
M: It was called “Free Wheelin’, McClure and Montana.”
M: And it was a Hell’s Angel friend of mine and that, I-wrote, I wrote his autobiography. His name was Free Wheelin’ Frank. And, ah, while we were writing his autobiography, an electronic composer friend of mine used to come by in the evenings and we would sit around and we’d start playing music together and writing songs, and we even played a few engagements.
G: Oh, that’s great.
M: But it didn’t sound like anything else. Nothing else. I-it would sound like new wave if you could hear it today.
G: Yeah? Wow, that’s great, umm
M: An-and rock’n’roll had a tremendous influence on my thought and through that playing of it had a tremendous influence on-th, o-on the sound of my poetry from then on. So maybe you’re right, I never thought of myself as a rock’n’roll poet, I thought of myself as a part of that scene, but in-in the fact that-I, that I learned from the scene, the-the lyricism of it entered my poetry. And I’ve studied with other musicians, too, I mean, I’ve played with other musicians who were, ah, like serious, crazy visionary musicians, where we had poets’ bands.
M: Oh, you wouldn’t know his name – Chris Gaynor. His is a very . . . . .
G: I wouldn’t know him.
M: He’s a very, ah, hard guy to find.
G: Robert Creeley has some real interesting stories about Jim Morrison and hanging out with him.
M: Yeah. Ji-that’s right, [ah]. There will be a biography of Jim coming out. I, th-I’m surprised it’s not out right now. Warner Books is bringing it out and I-wrote-the, I wrote an afterword for it.
M: And I’m very glad I did because when I wrote the afterword the-poem, the book contained a lot of Jim’s poetry and I mean a lot of Jim’s poetry on the page. And Jim [was a great poet on the page as well as a great writer of lyrics and a lot of it never got published . . . . .]
G: Oh, really?
M: . . . . . and most people are not aware of that. [Much of his unpublished] poetry is page poetry. A lot of it was in the book and unfortunately they could not get permission to print that in the book and in my afterword I pointed to Jim as a poet and I’m hoping that that afterword will send people to look at his poems on the page, particularly since they are not included in the book. Jim [was] one of my best friends for several years.
G: Ah, hah. He, ah, he was one of my [biggest] heroes for several years. Hahaha.
M: We, he’s, ah, Jim was-a-real, was a real fine spirit. Jim, I-it – I don’t think there’s a better poet of Jim’s generation and I mean on the page. I don’t mean [the] lyrics that he sang. But I mean I don’t think there was a better poet of his generation who wrote poetry for the page.
G: Including Ed Sanders?
M: [ ] I’m not saying that Jim wa-was the best, but I’m saying I don’t think there was a better one.
G: Oh, okay.
M: [There were many fine poets of that generation. You take somebody like] Ed Sanders and you take someone like Jim and they’re both pretty fine, o-er, ah, ah, Louis McAdams, there would be another one. I’m just running, y’know, I could run through a whole lot of people of that period. And what Jim wrote was very beautiful. And there are two books of it out and I think they are published in one volume now, and I’m afraid it’s out of print right now.
M: But it will be [back in print].
G: Yeah, I always thought he was a very fine poet an-in his lyrics as well as in his printed poetry.
M: Yeah, g-get a look at the pri-you know the printed poetry?
G: Yeah, I have it. Um, can you tell us like, ah, something about Jim Morrison that might be . . . . .
M: Yes, one of the [most wonderful things about Jim] was the fact that, I mean, you know, aside from the fact that Jim was a poet – ah, about Jim as an entertainer – I knew so many people in rock, I knew so many people in pop music, but Jim is the only one who I knew who would come in and sit down with you and we’d all be sitting around the table drinking and would sing for-for the fun of singing. I mean, y’know, if there were people around to sing to Jim would sing to them.
M: I mean, it took some juice but Jim was usually pretty drunk. And, ahh, he’d sing Elvis Presley songs and he’d sing Frank Sinatra songs and he’d sing his own songs sometimes and he’d walk down the streets [singing. I knew many other singers] but they didn’t like to do it for their friends and Jim liked to sing for anybody. He liked attention, he liked to be looked at, he liked to sing and he was a . . . . . if Jim had lived and I don’t think there was any chance Jim would have lived, ah, I think he would have been like real bulky – you know, Jim was getting heavy – Jim would have gotten to be a fat bar-style Chubby Checkers type, you know, heavy singer.
M: That was just one of the directions . . . . .
G: Wooh! I don’t know if I would have liked that.
M: Well, [neither] would a lot of people. But Jim-was-a, Jim was a man who was in the midst of a lot of evolution. I mean, I don’t think any body who knew him very well expected him to live any longer than he did. I was up in Oregon and they said, “You’ve got a phone call from Los Angeles” and I didn’t even have to pers-, “Ah, I know!” – I knew-it – was, I knew it was Jim. I knew he was dead. I mean, I was expecting it. Not, not day by day or anything – “Hey, Jim’s gonna die,” or anything . . . . .
G: At that time . . . . .
M: But since I wasn’t expecting a call from Los Angeles it would occur to me, well, something happened to Jim, somebody, y’know, of course he wasn’t in Los Angeles, but the call came through there.
G: Yes, he is one of the few, ah, casualties of that time that I really regretted personally even though I never [saw him].
M: I really regret it personally. He is somebody I really miss, somebody I think about a lot. Some people die and they’re gone and you know, it’s not that they mean any less to you. And some people are, ah, die and they’re gone and you think about them all the time, or you see – you walk down the street and you see something and you say, Hey, Jim, would like that. You know.
G: Do you have a poem about him or to him?
M: I do, but I don’t have it with me.
G: Oh, okay.
A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO – CONTINUED
The unbelievably wasteful promotions – purchased by the idiot Eastern European Close-Personal-Friend-Of-The-Management, who is best described as ten-pounds-of-shit-in-a-five-pound-bag – that only served to muddle our already muddled image. Promotions that had nothing to do with the format, that were not geared toward the audience we were seeking, and wasted the energy and time and money we needed to make the station sound good. Like “The Wizard’s Table” – a useless brochure depicting the format as a menu. It included items like a “Jim Nowicki Doo-Hickey” that gave no hint as to the sound of the station. The use of food to convey the format had no tie-in with anything the station was doing. It could not possibly have made us any more memorable to listeners or prospective advertisers.
Or the Wizard Cards – these were little plastic cards similar in appearance to credit cards that were to be used for discounts in participating businesses but which were never used for anything except one contest. In order to be an effective promotion, they should have given away 20 to 50 thousand of these cards but they only passed out about five thousand – at a cost of fifty cents apiece – and completely dropped the promotion.
Or the Wizard Beetleboards. These were Volkswagen Beetles painted up with Wizard logos. They looked really snappy but they cost a rumored 18,000 to 50,000 dollars for an alleged 36 bugs. In the four or five months we had them I spotted one on two separate occasions; almost everyone I spoke to reported a similar frequency of sightings. Not a very effective campaign considering the fact that it is not possible to drive anywhere without seeing a “97 Rock” bumper sticker from our local Abrams station. With the Beetle-board money we could have plastered the town with bumper stickers. At no time was anyone in programming – that is, anyone who understood the format – consulted about any of these promotions.
The Wizard Logo, an appealing purple and orange picture of a magician. It was a very good design (created by a child of one of the investors) and if properly developed could have been a wonderfully useful icon to emblemize the station’s image. But like every other promotion, it was misused by management types who didn’t know what the fuck they were promoting
|THE END OF THE WORLD
It is August 13, 1980. Two years and a day after I finally got up enough energy to seriously start writing this “paper.” I hope this is the last vignette I will write. (Editor’s note: it wasn’t.)
I just returned from a local bar. They have a “new wave night” every Tuesday. Two years and a day ago they had disco every night at that bar. Now many bars have new wave nights. Gabels, The Stuffed Mushroom, Mr. Goodbar, Mulligan’s, Pepper’s, the Continental, even the 747 Lounge. Remember the 747? That was the posh club that had the famous wet t-shirt contest.
All these places used to be discos. Two years and a day ago I could hardly convince anyone that new wave was music at all. Certainly not the trendy kids I saw tonight. Not even the radio station I worked for. Two years and a day ago there was only one bar where new wave could blast your ears. That was No Name’s. It was wonderful, drinking and being an idiot to the exciting new music provided by great DJ’s like Andrew Elias, Magnificent Maurice, Steve Ralbovsky, and Toni Biloni. Incredible when Elvis Costello and The Clash and Blondie and Talking Heads were new and obscure. You could even dance to reggae.
Tonight the music still felt good but something was different. I felt like killing myself.
I had to wait outside while some macho goon held his arm over the door so a line would form making it seem crowded inside. It was not crowded inside. People decked out in quasi-punk fashion, a thin tie here, black lipstick there, slacks lingering from the disco days.
Many of the originals who always had ears for this music were there. Pauline who now has a group called The Perils, she has a star on her brow. She asks me if I’ve heard the fabulous new single by the Party Nuggets. The alluring Linda Fath, queen of punk beauty in Buffalo. Terry Sullivan, once dynamic lead singer of The Jumpers, now of The Celibates. Members of bands that used to rock McVan’s two years and a day ago, long forgotten bands like The More, The Secrets, The Indians. I thought I saw a member of a phenomenal new band called The Stains. Members of The Enemies, The Cobras, The Detours, and The Vores were about. Bob Kozak, one of the best songwriters in town. Dave Meinzer who is rumored to be releasing an album soon. Big hearted Norm from Fantasy World, a terrific crowded comic book and used record store, bought me a drink. Jennifer and Mary from Play It Again Sam’s, the greatest record store, yelled at the DJ to play some Public Image Ltd. Flamboyant Gina was followed by swimming eyes. I saw tall blonde Mary the synthesist and that mysterious Cathy who always wears the leather coat and dances so great.
But most of the faces were new. They drank and laughed and stood around the dance floor in a circle watching the “real punks” dance. How strange it was to feel so out of place. The music was good. Really good. The DJ played English Beat, Stiff Little Fingers, Gang of Four, Teenage Head, XTC, lots of great exciting new music (though no reggae). But I left. It was almost like the times I got caught in a disco with my long hair, scraggly beard and blue jeans.
Club owners tell me they are the ones who are finally bringing new wave to Buffalo. The majority of new records I receive have that “new wave packaging” if not that “new wave sound.” Moms and Dads and businessmen are finally picking up on punk. Two years and a day ago I went on the air as usual with my “new wave record of the night.” Two years and a day ago punk was a dying fad in New York City. What do I want? I don’t know. The Edge, The Crest, The Forefront of Culture. I just had to leave the bar. The music was good but I felt like an outsider. I couldn’t talk. I drove home. I took a huge shit. I wrote this. My book is almost done.
Image under construction.
|A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO – CONTINUED
Ah, how naive I was. I expected too much of the world, those unwashed masses out there.
The many local bands to whom we gave a tremendous boost with airplay: Cheater, Dan Harper, Pauline and The Perils, The Elements, The Cobras, The Vores, Broken Silence, Secret Savior, The Third Floor Strangers, The Beez, Tom Wachter, Atilla and on and on. Did helping and thrilling local musicians by playing them in regular rotation turn off the audience?
Playing Captain Beefheart in the morning, avant garde jazz by Pull to Open in middays, Chris Williamson in the evenings. I had to teach myself about day-parting – the placing of particular moods and styles of music in particular parts of the day, up-tempo happy stuff and mellow stuff in the morning, more rocking stuff as the day progresses, the weirdest only late at night. I had to teach myself about the close relationship between record-sales and airplay – there is almost no point in emphasizing a record that is not stocked in the stores. So many mistakes I learned to correct, so many more I intended to correct.
The twelve solid hours of the Kinks conducted by Louie the Mad Vinyl Junkie and me to celebrate their arrival into town. I came up to Ray Davies backstage at the concert and said We played your music for twelve hours yesterday and he shook my hand for a long time Oh thank you thank you so much oh thank you thank you so much thank you. They sold two thousand more tickets than they expected for that show.
The Psychedelic Fur Coat. This promotion was my idea. A wild patchwork of dozens of pieces of brightly colored fake fur, created by an inspired costume designer named Virginia Slater. We hoped to use the coat in conjunction with the first album by The Psychedelic Furs but we received only minimal cooperation from the idiots at CBS Records. They couldn’t even provide a few in-store displays for the record store that put up the three hundred dollars for the coat. I have never been treated so unprofessionally as we were by the local CBS promoter. Instead, we organized a fabulously successful fashion show at the Continental Club which, up to that point, had been a waning disco club. That fashion show established the Continental as the premier punk new-wave club in Buffalo and it became a refuge of orgiastic revelry, dark dervishes, and explosions of rock for those who lived the noise. We sported the Psychedelic Fur Coat around town, had it displayed on television and in the papers, and finally gave it away over the air to a twelve year old boy from Niagara Falls.
The day we featured acoustic guitar music by everyone from James Taylor to Doc Watson to Julian Bream to Ralph Towner as part of a promotion for the appearance of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, and Paco DéLucia at Kleinhan’s Music Hall. An ebullient chiming day of music.
The day Frank Zappa came to the station. And Chris Williamson, and Joan Jett, and Ozzy Osbourne, and Ry Cooder, and U-2, and Priscilla Herdman, and Koko Taylor, and Blue Angel, and Wendy O. Williams, and Ellen McIlwaine.
The mind bending show, Signals from Space, created by Jeff Gordon, our maniacal production director and man of a thousand voices. The only show almost anywhere that played the outest of all rock music, Gong, Soft Machine, Guru Guru, Amon Duul II, Osanna, Le Orme, Can, Henry Cow, Annexus Quam, Magma. The “host” of the show was Dr. Lobotomy, one of Jeff’s voices, sounding more like a panting pervert than a mad scientist. The music was interspersed with an incomprehensible science fiction story about an evil space commander named Lord Kane Judak. It was so cleverly created that after two seconds you knew you had attained escape velocity.
|Image under construction.||
I’m a woman
I’m a woman
KOKO TAYLOR. Leaves no doubts. She’s a blues shouter, one of the toughest alive. I once saw her hittin’ the wang-dang-doodle all night long in a crowded little club. She took the whole crowd in her arms and gave out life.
* Koko Taylor. “I’m a Woman,” © 1978, no pub., from The Earth Shaker, Alligator Records, AL 4711.
MUSIC IS MORE TENDER THAN LIFE
There is no right word for the feelings I want to express. Just as we have buried our sex we have coarsened all other sensibilities. I am a little embarrassed to write about these things. They are corny infantile and sentimental. They are tied to the names of love and gentle and tender and inspiring. But I want to say that each person’s life is marked by moments of sublimity. These sweet emotions are incredibly brief. First falling in love, spiritual awakening, peace, giving birth. Such moments are thrown away because they are too painful to keep around, too rare to isolate, too ephemereal to last, too pure to express, too beautiful to recall. We must harden ourselves or all the rest of life will seem dull and sad. There is no outlet no expression not in tears not in laughter not in screams not in joy nor in sorrow, there is no emotion for these emotions. We can bleed shit fuck kill and pound the earth and nothing will equal these passions, nothing will make them stay.These are the moments that mark our lives, perhaps they are the moments for which we live. Only in music can these tender times be touched. Only in music can they be faintly remembered. We close our eyes listening to the most beautiful songs, the most majestic melodies. Music keeps the emotion alive. In music I find what people dare not give, the life I dare not live. All people know such passions. They are the edge, the extremity of sensibility, the epiphany, the transcendent moment. But they are not for everyday life because we refuse to be beautiful, we refuse to be real, we refuse to be gentle, we refuse to risk the nakedness. It is a perfection only music can hold.
|Image under construction.|
|A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO – CONTINUED
The first real rating. The disingenuous crooks at Arbitron gave us a 1.3 in the Buffalo market. We were hoping for a 2.0 percent share of the audience but this was still fairly respectable for a new station with an adventurous format.
The “Leave it to Teddy” show, a two minute scatological family comedy about a bizarre little kid with a speech impediment and his parents who gain perverse sexual pleasure from playing leapfrog. It was aired three mornings a week and was the creation of Bill Pezzimenti, aesthetic salesman and Jeff Gordon (whose real name is Gorden Dysinger), the genius who was in charge of production.
The fact that we never did have a chance to fully develop an effective execution of the progressive format, striking a commercially viable balance between familiar and unfamiliar music. We were creating a totally new format from scratch, it needed time to grow, but brainless uncomprehending financial mismanagement did not permit that time.
And oh I became a small time famous person. Wherever I went – Are you Gary Storm. I liked this. People came up to me. I liked this.
The disastrous crumbling of the sales department which went through at least ten people in one year – not good for a place with only five openings. Another sign of managerial incompetence.
There was only one salesman who really understood the format he was supposed to be selling – that was Bill Pezzimenti. In fact, he was the only salesperson to survive the entire year. He was so talented and so honest and so devoted to the format it was hard to believe he was in sales. If the station – or even just the sales department – had been placed in his hands there would never have been financial troubles. The other sales people for the most part didn’t understand why a wacky progressive station had to take its own approach to sponsoring bridal fairs, or do it own special thing for promotions with the Playboy Club, or find its own angle for advertising wicker furniture without further muddling our image and overlooking the audience we were trying to please. It was necessary not to whore the station by grabbing clients at any cost. It was so important to present clients in ways that would sell their product and be consistent with the delicate image we needed to establish. This never happened. Tell me again we failed only because of “too broad a spectrum of music.”
|THE DEAD BOYS
I am sitting after the gig in grungy wonderful McVan’s talking to Stiv Bators and Jimmy Zero of The Dead Boys. With me are Scott Field from WBFO and Dmitri Popadopulous, a music critic of visionary sensibilities.
Jimmy Zero: We were actually like due to money reasons we were like coming into New York, playing the job at CBGB’s usually, occasionally at Max’s in the beginning . . . . .
Dmitri Popadopulous: Yeah, right, I saw you there.
Z: . . . . . and we would literally pack up our equipment drunk, after the job like right now as we are here, and gettin’ in the van and drive back to Cleveland, ‘cause we had no place to stay. So, it was pretty, y’know, it-sounds, it sounds like a corny thing to say, but it was rough in the beginning. It still is.
Dmitri asks them about the song “Not Any More” which deals with exactly this theme:
Stiv Bators: Yeah, see, I was, ah, snorting cocaine and lying in a luxury apartment when I wrote, no . . . . . (everybody laughs).
Z: Hey, wrong rap, wrong rap!
S: No, it-it’s . . . . .
Z: Rap-ra-rap-rap 3-B!
5: Oh, 3-B!
Z: This is for radio.
S: Oh! Oh, yeah, that’s . . . . . no, it was more or less, ah, in the very beginning, right, we had no place to stay every time, we had to stay with, we used to get picked up by strippers and people like that, and we used to stay at their places, y’know. And like . . . . . song’s mostly about . . . . .
Z: They kept stealing our clothes.
S: The song’s mostly about when I was stuck out-of, ah, out of one of their apartments and I had to walk around until the next day, y’know. Just then I started, like, to really get in a frame of mind what it’s like to live there, what must go through a lot of people’s . . . . . when they’re on the down-and-out, y’know, ‘cause, ah, a lot of people are living in abandoned buildings and that, and . . . . . it’s really good, you really get a feel of life that way, another side.
Z: Now tell them the truth.
D: Is it still like it?
S: My mother wrote it. Hahahaha.
D: Is it still like that, though?
For a while the conversation digresses. Jimmy Zero asks Dmitri to find him a girl with whom to spend the night.
Gary: So, it-ain’t, it ain’t hard times so much any more.
Z: Oh, yeah! It’s the hardest!
S: It’s worse. It’s worse than it was before.
S: Because, ah . . . . . in the fact that before, well, it’s just that, y’know, y-you’re traveling more, which is good, that’s the way we like it, but it’s more exhaustion, like he just come out of the hospital from it, and, ah . . . . .
Z: I collapsed last week, I collapsed last weekend and was hospitalized for it. I smoked my first cigarette today.
S: We ain’t gettin’ a lot of, we ain’t gettin’ a lot of money or nothing like that.
Z: I had pneumonia, pneumonia and was suffering, suffering just exhaustion, I had trachyitis and all this shit. No, what’s different about being on the road is before we were in New York City with friends and no money . . . . . and now we’re on the road with no friends and no money.
|A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO – CONTINUED
At times I would talk to the owner. How uncomfortable he always seemed around me. Yet I know he respected my knowledge, my education, my voice. I don’t ever remember him looking me in the eye. I think he just never felt relaxed with a station full of people who believed so strongly in art. John Farrell invented a name for the people in the management office: The Suits. It was like those touch football games we used to play as kids – the shirts against the skins – except at Wizard it was The Suits against The Skins. One day after I spoke to the owner I reached out my hand, the startled look as he fumbled to shake it. I admire him for trying our madness for a year. I am enraged that he never consulted those who understood the format about the promotion, the image, and the advertising. And I will never forget the feeling of seeing all this obvious damage around me only to have the failure of the station be attributed to “too broad a spectrum of music.”
The wonderfully silly promotion Bill Pezzimenti invented to publicize the Vapors concert. This was after the release of their second album – long after “Turning Japanese” was a sensation. We were the only station in town playing their music. We gave away tickets to the show with a grand prize of a year’s supply of Vick’s Vaporub to one lucky winner. Everyone thought about 300 people would come to the show. A thousand people turned out. The only explanation for this phenomenal response was the promotion created by Pezzimenti.
And what other commercial station in the world would do a Native American Weekend to celebrate the opening of the Center for Native American Studies, an unusual museum and performance space in Niagara Falls built in the shape of a giant turtle. We recorded a number of tales from the Hau-de-no-sau-nee Nations about the origins of certain beliefs and rituals and interspersed them through our regular programming. When we visited the Turtle we interviewed a number of Native American celebrities. Everything is happening just as the old stories predicted, said one elderly folk singer. The world as we know it is going to collapse. The Native American people are prepared. We will survive.
The evening when John Farrell and I were chatting with the vice-president of the station, probably some talk about our effect in the market. As he turned away I caught something in his eye that filled my heart with a sad chill. When he left, I said to John, I just had a vision of doom. John shook his head, he understood.
The sound of the station wasn’t perfect, I know. The basic idea was right, the execution of the idea was flawed. Some of the jocks didn’t know enough about music to be trusted with a loose format. The blending of familiar and unfamiliar music was inconsistent. Still, there was never a station with more devotion and camaraderie, filled with people who really believed in what they were doing. Jim Nowicki had a fine amusing almost AM style for his morning show; Anne Leighton had the most beautiful voice I have ever heard in a female announcer; Bob Allen for the short time he was on the air tried so hard to convince the world we were right though he sometimes lacked commercial sense; Bob MacRae did a friendly bright afternoon drive show with one tune by Steely Dan almost every day; John Farrell the evening man is still the greatest FM disc jockey in the world; Jeff Gordon was one of the most berserk creative outrageous multi-voiced hilarious production engineers anywhere – and the maniacal commercials he created really worked in the market place; Jim Santella, while he worked at Wizard, did a pleasantly informative blues, folk, and jazz show; Bill Nichols laughed and rolled all nights on weekends sounding more wrecked than any of his listeners; talkative Dale Anderson’s charming Sunday afternoon show played everything from gospel to the Dead Kennedys and served it up just right. I guess we could have improved many things but still this was not a staff of radio clones, the typical hacks who circulate around town from station to station, the nurds filling the airwaves who have no vision and take no stand against or even about the bilge and drek they are told to broadcast.
I worked so hard. I was so lonely I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand it. I could not reach out to people.
My Truly Classic Album this week is No Deposit, No Return by poet and founding member of The Fugs, Tuli Kupferberg.
The album consists of a number of “found poems”. The
Pieces he reads are actual advertisements culled from magazines and
embellished with a few sound effects.
For weeks following, I get requests for “The Hyperemiator Penis Enlarger” and “The Arva Bovine Artificial Vagina.”
|Image under construction.|
|A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO – CONTINUED
I have said elsewhere that everything that goes on behind the scenes affects the sound of the station. If ever there was proof of that it was Wizard. There was one person at the station in a key Position who was new to radio and kept making many serious mistakes. Unfortunately, this person was not the sort who could accept any sort of criticism. Instead this person was very defensive and blamed other people for their own mistakes and this person was – you guessed it – Close-Personal-Friend-Of-The-Management.
Although in my own dealings I found this individual always kind and generous and supportive, I could not help but notice that everyone – I mean everyone – around me was going crazy. The explanation for the distress was always summed up in this person’s name. In the sales office, the accounting office, the programming office, the production office, the secretarial office there was incredibly wasteful frustration, turmoil, distress, and extra work because of this person who could not be criticized.
I must emphasize that I was personally always treated well – but in all objectivity, the morale around me was disastrous. In one year the station went through four traffic directors, two production directors, two program directors, two or three business managers, two or three secretaries, and many salespeople due primarily to conflicts with this individual. I remember Bob MacRaespending hours and hours trying to diplomatically reject or at least modify totally ridiculous promotions that were thrust upon him. I remember the traffic director flipping out when handed contracts that were practically devoid of the necessary information. I remember the production director blind with rage because the Close-Personal-Friend-Of-The-Management gave him the wrong information about a spot and then yelled at him for errors in a commercial he produced.
All this distress was absolutely debilitating to morale; if we did not so earnestly believe in the format we would have given it all up. My stomach started to hurt. A radio station in which there is no harmony behind the scenes – at least professional if not loving harmony – cannot possibly succeed.
|THE END OF THE WORLD
Shouts and screams, explosions, roaring music, automatic weapons, tumbling buildings, floods, earthquakes, volcanos, black skies, shrieking guitars. Startled, I look up. I am sitting in the sunshine at the University on the last day of finals. This, precisely, is what surrounds me:
Clear warm sun, perfect breezes, five or six people reading and sunning in this mall. Solitary walkers. Couples softly chatting, smiling. The sound of the air, distant traffic sounding like air, the buildings with their air conditioners. Lovely, curly-haired girls and shirtless boys turning pages without a sound. A zipper jingling on a coat over a guy’s shoulder. Clock bells toll four-forty-five. The lawn, the leaves, the shadows. A tennis player drops his can of balls, a ticking ten-speed. Distant people laugh in a group and wish goodbyes. No clouds. A girl laughs, saying “. . . . . that makes me feel better,” and the voices of her friends are like whispers. Someone asks me for the time. I hear the low sound of my own blood rumbling in my veins.
|Image under construction.|
A HISTORY OF WIZARD RADIO – CONTINUED
The day we featured women in rock in order to promote the appearance of Joan Jett. After a day of ticket giveaways and playing the music of everyone from Cake to Fanny to Ramatam to Pat Benatar to Meg Christian to Janis Joplin to Carla Bley to Bonnie Raitt to Jenny Darren we once again came close to selling out a concert everyone thought would fail.
Making hits – forcing other stations to play certain songs because of momentum we created. “Turn Me Loose” by Loverboy, “One Step Ahead” by Squeeze, the Vapors’ “Turning Japanese,” “Hold On Loosely” by .38 Special, “I Will Follow” by U-2, Diesel’s “Sausalito Summer Night,” Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died,” “Whip It” by DEVO, Donnie Iris’s “Ah, Leah!,” and “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield all received their first airplay almost anywhere on Wizard. This happened with many songs. The other delight was enraging the other stations by being the first, sometimes by only a few minutes to play important records by artists like The Who, Tom Petty, Willie Nile, Van Halen, David Bowie, Cheap Trick, and Heart. All silliness, but what fun it was when we beat them.
The famous Mighty Taco commercial created by Bill Pezzimenti that won the award for Best Commercial in New York State from the National Association of Broadcasters. A great accomplishment for so new a station.
The wonderful magical mystical show created by Louie the Mad Vinyl Junkie. How sublime it was to have a music lover come on the air once a week to do nothing but talk about and play his favorite music. Doing a whole show on The Move, Nils Lofgren, The Zombies, Twink, The Animals, Tom Petty, The New York Dolls, the Deram London record label, the International Artists label, the Sire London label, the EMI Harvest label. And the marvelous vinyl junkies he brought on as guests: Rockabilly Roger who has all but three or four of the Sun Record catalog, Friday Night Dave who did a three hour tribute to Raven the most successful rock band to make it out of Buffalo (up to that time), the Doctor of Madness who played the most wonderful sixties punk, Bernie Big Star one of the most scholarly vinyl junkies alive. What a show. What a show!
The night I put on Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, and lay down on the floor for a minute, and woke up to all the phones ringing off the hook and a policeman at the door. I talked to a girl, how long was it skipping in the last groove, about half an hour she said.
At every station I’ve ever known, the most magical people are in the engineering department. The true wizard at Wizard Radio was Bob Wilson, the chief engineer, I never met anyone more thoughtful and meticulous and elegant. He had been in the business for at least forty years and helped build the first FM station in the world. Gil Loescher – a certified genius, the kindest man on earth, and caretaker of Wizard the mouse munching pussy cat – would hold his hands over his ears: “You kids, how can you stand that awful rock’n’roll?” “Because it’s virtuous, Gil!” I would say. He would shake his head and laugh, “I don’t know I just don’t know.” He only liked ragtime and classical music and only some of that. Quiet shy Tom Gill never minded anyone’s business but his own, but he was a true electronic artist who could make wires and diodes and transistors flower by themselves in the ground of a circuit board. John Farrell too was on the engineering staff because he learned long ago that if you only like progressive radio then you’d better have another skill to back it up.
The Clash weekend featuring everything including B-sides of singles and live performances from the Rude Boy soundtrack.
Watching records like the Psychedelic Furs, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, and Echo and The Bunnymen sell in stores largely because of our airplay.
The Reggae Rockers show with Prince Tony (whose in real life was the great Tony Billoni), a reggae collector whose knowledge amazed even aficionados of the music.
The beautiful Oil of Dog T-shjrts designed by Mark Stack and printed by the wonderful people at Record Boutique as a promotion for my show. They sold over 250 shirts in the first week, quite a phenomenal response for an all-night program. Even after I was kicked off the air they were moving 40 shirts a week.
The week we celebrated our first year on the air. Each of the full time jocks did a twenty four hour shift. The July 14 birthday celebration on the George Prentice show where we laughed and talked for two hours sneering at the competition drinking champagne feeling high and happy about a year of fantastic radio.
|Image under construction.||
W3My A-Number One favorite blues man is OTIS RUSH and this album, Cold Day in Hell is the one that did it. My father used to tell me how Harry James could make a trumpet talk. And that’s how I feel about Otis and his guitar. He sings “You’re Breakin’ My Heart! . . . . .” but you already know what he’s saying from his guitar. A long with Frank Zappa and Albert Collins and Jeff Beck, he’s one of the few guitarists who plays with a human voice.
Page 4 Page 5
Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15
Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21