Radio Waves: 4/20/18

Mr. Rock and Roll’s Stories

One of the real treats of listening to KRTH (101.1 FM) in years past was the mid-day shift hosted by Brian Beirne, known to his many fans as “Mr. Rock and Roll.”

He gave himself that nickname — it’s a registered trademark — after listeners told him he should call himself “Mr. Something,” but it relates to the fact that he is a walking encyclopedia of early rock and roll music, the artists who recorded the songs, and the producers who put it all together.

For many years, Beirne was KRTH. His show was among the top-rated at the station and he was the voice of the station during much of his tenure while it was owned by RKO Radio (a name I’d like to bring back when I buy my first station … But I digress).

Listening to Beirne, much like listening to his contemporary Johnny Hayes on competing KRLA (now KRDC, 1110 AM), was akin listening to the curator of an audio museum. He brought meaning to the music, told background stories on songs and the meaning of lyrics, and brought artists into your home as friends. No wonder he spent 29 years at the station until he retired in December of 2004 … one of the longest single-station tenures in the history of radio.

Since he left radio, Beirne has spent his time as a promotor of concerts by artists of the early rock era … the same music he played in his early days at KRTH .. through his company Legendary Shows.

Earlier this week I received an email from Mr. Rock and Roll. “I wanted to share with you and your readers a special evening I am doing May 17 at the Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont,” he wrote.

And what a show it is. May 17 at the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater at 455 West Foothill Blvd. in Claremont, Beirne will tell the stories of his life as a Rock and Roll disc jockey, intimate and personal stories of artists, the history and evolution of the music he played, and first-hand stories from artists he knows personally. I imagine that will include the story of the time when John Lennon and Ringo Starr called in to his show on KRTH to request a song. Yes, they did.

Tickets are on sale now. Call 909-626-1254, extension 1.

Sound Playlist

Reader David Alpern checked in with a nice internet link.

“Knowing how much you enjoyed 100.3 The Sound – here is something I have been using at times to access the station’s music.

“This was assembled by a The Sound listener, and is at”

What is “it?” A Spotify playlist of the final Sound A-Z as heard during the final weeks on the late-great classic rock station programmed by Dave Beasing. The Sound dropped classic rock for syndicated Christian rock (and few listeners) in November.

The playlist includes almost 2000 songs and is — theoretically, at least … I have not verified — exactly the same songs in the same order that were played as the station wound down ten years of existence. In order, every song from A to Z. Styx’ A.D. 1928 (which sounds awkward without Rockin’ the Paradise) to U2’s Zooropa

You need a Spotify account to access the full list and the music.

Bell Passes

Art Bell, the architect of the syndicated overnight radio program that focussed on UFOs, conspiracy theories and the paranormal, died April 13th at the age of 72 at his home in Nevada.

His show started as a local political talk program on KDWN/Las Vegas in 1978. First called West Coast AM, the program changed focus and name to what it is now about ten years later and as it moved into syndication with affiliates nationwide, including KFI (640 AM) locally.

He retired from and returned to Coast to Coast or later offshoots numerous times. 

No cause of death was given, pending the results of an autopsy. Fitting with the nature of the show he launched and hosted for so long, one reader emailed, “he’s not truly dead. He’s just watching us from a radio studio flying overhead.”

Showman that he was, I bet Bell would get a laugh out of that.