More than one way to Mellow a Rock
A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet up with the people behind the online re-creation of mellow rock KNX-FM (now KCBS-FM, 93.1), which you can hear at knxfm93.com.
The event was a backyard barbecue and it was designed to bring together the volunteers working behind the scenes, financial and emotional backers, supporters and fans, including some of the original employees of the station that was a huge part of the FM radio scene from 1971 to 1983, and to a lesser extent when it came back for a few years in 1986.
Interestingly, it was the first time some of the actual movers and shakers had seen each other in person since the project began — a testament to the creative possibilities modern technology and the internet allow.
But first a correction from the story I ran about the online station back in May. I had said that Michael Sheehy, who was KNX-FM’s music director from 1976 to ’79 and station programmer from ’79 to ’83, was part of the recreation, but it turns out he is not. At least not part of this one, which is not a bad thing; more on that later.
The afternoon barbecue was part nostalgia, part reunion, part forward-looking. Much discussion centered on how to make the online station even better, in addition to the numerous stories of how people were affected by the station — employee or listener. As a radio junkie who loved KNX-FM, I was in heaven.
Response to the station has been tremendous, according to production guru and volunteer Douglas Brown. That is proven by the letters and emails I’ve received: original fans of the station have written to tell me they have found an old friend. Passion for the format is obvious among fans and volunteers, all of whom are doing it as a true labor of love.
I was able to meet and talk with Christopher Ames, writer and voice of the still-great Odyssey File, Steve Marshall — who not only co-created the format but went on to work on CBS-TV’s great WKRP in Cincinnati, Craig Carpenter, former KNX-FM air talent who I had not seen since the final days of The Mix 95.9 FM (now KFSH) which he programmed to perfection, and Rick Shaw, former air talent on KNX-FM (and one of the great KFRC/San Francisco top-40 jocks during that stations heydays), and many others.
The online station was founded by Dale Berg, Brown, Brad Goldman and Pat Veling
There was talk of Sheehy perhaps being part of this re-creation, but it turns out he’s actually been putting together an online KNX-FM of his own after being asked to do so for over three decades.
“The original station’s library consisted of 1200 songs, Sheehy told me. “Over the course of the past 7 years I have remastered over 5200 songs in an effort to develop two Mellow Sounds – the first a ’73-’83 time capsule, and the second being an updated version that covers music from the ’60s all the way to the present. I am still hard at work on that and you can hear our music only beta test site if you simply type knxfm.com into your browser”
As Sheehy says, knxfm.com is music only, unlike knxfm93.com mentioned above which also includes jingles and The Odyssey File . More akin to the original in features … But he says he has more planned for the future. And his focus is the music sets he put together for his many years with the station.
He has another project online as well, one I am enjoying as I write this: www.planetpootwaddle.com. Sheehy describes it as mush like the original KNX-FM in spirit, but not restricted to only mellow tunes. And a bit of “ten-year-old boy” humor for good measure.
KJLH (102.3 FM) has a new programmer, as Jamillah Muhammad takes over both programming and marketing duties for the station owned by legendary artist Stevie Wonder. She replaces Aundrae Russell, who remains with the station as Community Relations Director.
Miss The Fabulous 570 or The Fabulous 690 — the stations that played adult standards with a modern twist when programmed by Brad “Martini” Chambers? You can still hear Chambers and the music, along with other nice features, albeit on line. “Tune in” to martiniinthemorning.com and hear your favorite standards like you’ve never heard them before.
Future of Radio
Two reactions to last week’s mention of the difficulties faced by alternative stations KROQ (106.7 FM) and Alt (98.7 FM) should be a wake-up call to station owners and managers everywhere:
“While reading your column recently I have been reminded of how great AM and FM radio stations were in our day, and how much they have changed, writes Bruce Chapman of Yorba Linda. “Now during my daily commute, I turn on the satellite radio and pay to listen to the music that I want to hear. I would rather not have to pay to listen to the radio, but of necessity, find that I have no other choice.
“If LA radio stations would return to programing music and entertainment that would appeal to all ages and tastes, I might be persuaded to tune-in once again. For now, I will continue to listen to satellite and internet radio,” Chapman concludes.
More frightening is a statement from John Stewart, who gets right to the point: “Listeners (me, included) have gone on to tech that delivers more music, fewer commercials, and more of a choice in what we actually hear. ‘Hey, google, play ____,’ with anything you can think of filling the gap, and it’s obvious that radio really is dying. The only thing radio offers, is a connection to what’s going on in the world, the news!”
And most stations don’t have news any more. Hmm…