Sunday, October 7, 2012

HOT TOPICS! (The Sunday Comments, 10 - 07 - 12) - Weekend Comments Part Three (THE RASCALS .. and MORE ON / MORON RADIO!!!)

Readers LOVED our coverage of the up-coming Rascals reunion ... as well as our exclusive interview with Felix Cavaliere.  

And our latest "What's Wrong With Radio" Rave-Out went over pretty well, too ... as did our exclusive interview with Scott Shannon.
Both items sparked national coverage again this week for our efforts in Forgotten Hits ... so thanks to all of you who made this a GREAT week.  

Check out these comments ... we've saved the best for last!

Lots more comments about the upcoming Rascals reunion shows ... 

But first we've got to take care of a couple of Oops! from last week.   

Correction #1 - This one's on me. Because I try to keep Forgotten Hits interesting for ALL levels of oldies fans out there, I tend to "simplify" or "clarify" sometimes in an effort to reach the broadest popular audience ... so when I got an email from Alex Valdez last week, talking about the time he shared the bill with The Rascals, I just assumed this was while he was with The Yellow Balloon, who had the big hit "Yellow Balloon" in 1967. Hey, it was a logical assumption ... The Rascals' biggest years were 1966, 1967 and 1968 ... so if Alex shared the stage with them, I figured that honor would have gone to his charting group. (Similarly, I pointed out that the band The Spiders included a very Alice Cooper ... because I figured not everyone reading our posting would know that this was the band he fronted in the pre-Alice Cooper days.) Well, I was wrong ... so here's Alex's correction:

I know you mean well but you added to my script that I didn't submit to you. You added (Yellow Balloon) after my saying "my group" that performed with The Rascals and that is not correct. When we backed the Rascals it was with my local group "The 5 Of Us". I know you think I'm aging at the speed of light, but Alexheimers hasn't set in yet. In 1966 both Alice Cooper and The Yellow Balloon hadn't even begun to materialize yet. Keep up the good work. Hail Kent Kotal, the unselfish giver of his time. I
Alex Valdez (The 5 of Us)
Sundazed Garage Band 66 Compilation albums

Correction #2 - Also Rascals related ...

>>>Yikes!!! There's actually a Rascal named Bill Pascal?!?!?! Bill Pascal, The Rascal?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!? Hell, that's reason enough right there for the original band to get back together!!! (kk)    

Hey Kent,
Looks like I left out the last letter of The New Rascals, Bill Pascali's name. Oops! Sorry Bill. So now it's Pascali the Rascali. (That spelling would work in Italy.)
-- John LaPuzza

And I wouldn't have known that because the only version of The Rascals that I ever saw was the Felix Cavaliere-led version a few years ago at Lisle's Eyes To The Skies Festival! Apologies to Bill Pascali (who's most likely the ONLY Rascals fan out there waiting for the group to break up again so he can go back to his old gig as lead singer of The New Rascals!!!) kk

Now more Rascals goodies!

Special Last December (photo - dis COMPANY)   

Wow! Man, I hope they hit Chicago. I remember the last time they were here (probably mid 80's??) with only Gene and Dino. Maybe a Forgotten Hits Field Trip will be in order if they are in the area.
Mike DeMartino
I think we're ALL hoping they'll take this show on the road ... and bring it out Chicago-way. I, for one, would LOVE to see all four original Rascals performing together again! (kk)

Despite the auspicious beginnings of the Young Rascals getting an undeserved break at the Beatles' Shea Stadium concert, the band more than fulfilled the obligation of living up to the hype. Here in the midwest plain states, the Young Rascals were covered constantly by our local bands. Bruce Watson of the Coachmen told me they played more songs by that group in their live sets than any other including their idols, the Kingsmen. I know the group and others such as CCR are among Dick Bartley's fave 60's bands as well. Their brand of white RNB music was tops. Their 65-68 era period was truly an amazing set of hits. It is so hard to understand how they had their biggest hit in 68 and then failed the top 10 the rest of the way. Those post-68 songs were great, too, but even with dropping the knickers, the "Young" from their name, and then growing beards and a social conscienceness in their songs, the band took a hard fall. They influenced rock music in a different way from most other groups. Even B sides were popular. Their "Baby Let's Wait" (flip of "Good Lovin") was covered by the unknown Royal Guardsmen as their first 45 and failed, but was resurrected in 1969 to become a hit. Great music and glad to hear them reuniting!
Clark Besch

Hey Kent,
I am glad that so many artists contribute to your column. Your interview with Felix Cavaliere was exciting. I hope that The Rascals reunion show makes it to this part of the country and, if not, that a DVD of the show will soon be available for those of us not fortunate to attend. Towards the end of your interview, you said, "you guys can tell stories that no one else knows, because you were there when it was happening, MAKING it happen!" Yes, we fans are on the OUTSIDE, with one perspective of how it SEEMED things were happening, but the artists were on the INSIDE with their perspective on how it WAS happening! Your quote reminded me of a song Carl Perkins wrote and performed in 1986, about being on the INSIDE of the business, when it all came together. Here is the video:  

Click here: Carl Perkins: Birth of Rock-N-Roll (Video!!) - YouTube   
- John LaPuzza

Yep, I remember this one ... had the LP as a matter of fact. And imagine being there the day that The Beatles invited Carl Perkins to join them in the studio while they recorded three of his songs: "Matchbox", "Everybody's Tryin' To Be My Baby" and "Honey Don't". Had to be as equally exciting a moment for ALL parties concerned. (kk)     

My mother dug a lot of the great music being performed in the 60's, so as her growing kid I was turned on to some swell stuff she was into. She often bought the latest 45 of any group that made her feel groovy. I always had my ear to the transistor radio so I already was familiar with most everything she bought. She loved upbeat, positive messages and most all provocative social consciousness awakening messages. That was her bag.

She raised me to be a conscious objector and encouraged it and taught me to protest against ignorance and hate. I stayed in trouble at school but she backed me 100% much to the chagrin of the administration. Today they just coin us true patriots as Conspiracy Theorists.
So one day mom opened up the tube stereo console and put in a little black and red record and when the music started she started dancing and singing along and the message was really beautiful. She would play it over and over.
The song really awakened my consciousness to the message that still reverberates to this very day.
It appeals to the "better angels of our nature".
That band bridged the generation gap and racial barriers. And that song still cries out to this generation and will to all generations as the plea is timeless.
Every time I hear it I also recall a declining but still in operation Jim Crow south in opposition to this message and a young mother raising four kids in a time when family members and neighbors also saw their loved ones being drafted into war raging in Vietnam and the atmosphere was full of woe with the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.
We were burdened with the weight of all of it.
But that song was an indicator.
A road sign pointing to a better tomorrow.
I later learned that The Rascals insisted on a balanced tour that included blacks or else they would not perform.
"People Got To Be Free" begins with us.
We do have to choose to solve it individually!
Steven Van Zandt must have reminded the guys of their own prophetical mission.
Music is best when it's used as an elevating power that is oxygen God can breathe in.
Tomorrow is today.
It's a beautiful morning!
Boobie VanHouten      

If I had a nickel for every time I wrote, "[XXXX Group] disbands -- until the inevitable reunion" in my book ("Eight Days A Week" ISBN=0983373701, available online and at finer bookstores everywhere), I'd be comfortable, if not wealthy.
It's a fact of life -- groups form, groups dissolve and groups reunite when it's in their best interest. But, as Thomas Wolfe stated so elegantly, "You can't go home again." All a reunion can do is provide nostalgia for older fans and draw criticism from new. Very few succeed on any more than a commercial level. Was the second incarnation of Steely Dan, Kiss or the Eagles in any way better than the first?
Nevertheless, they pleased their fans and their accountants, so more power to them.
The problem I have with the Rascals reunion is that they expect us to pay for it through Kickstarter. Huh? The Rascals have made enough royalties over the years that they should be able to bankroll it
themselves. But why should they when Kickstarter will give them free money? That's what it's come down to. I saw a local author who wanted $15,000 from Kickstarter to write a radio station history (for $15,000 they should print it on gold leaf). When I write books, the money comes out of my bank account (and a couple of them will never make back what I spent, but that's the nature of business). Rick Nelson's son, who no doubt shares in royalties from his father's recordings, wants us to pay to digitally restore episodes of "Ozzie & Harriet" through Kickstarter. Kickstarter was designed to help those with a dream but no money achieve their goals, not bankroll projects by those unwilling to risk their own, not insubstantial, bank accounts.
By all, means, let the Rascals get back together. I wish them all the success in the world. Just not with my money.
-- Ron Smith
Well, I, for one, can't wait! As much as I loved their music, I missed these guys the first time around ... so Felix, put me down for a couple of tickets for sure!!! (kk) 

Excellent, Kent! Really getting excited about this! The Cavaliers -- you remember, the group that I was a part-time member of during breaks from my many bar bands! <snicker> -- opened for Felix at a show about three years ago -- it's probably one of the few times in my life that I was literally star-struck. I started to tell him about what it meant to see and hear a KEYBOARD-based band and I got seriously choked up. And he couldn't have been nicer.
Having talked to many of these artists now, I think they have come to better appreciate just how much this music meant to their fans. I think sometimes an artist gets stuck in the bubble when all of this is going on ... it's such an incredibly hectic pace, they don't always realize the effect they're having on their fans. And then to come to find out three, four and even five decades later that this music STILL has such a hold on us has got to be pretty amazing and satisfying. That's why we always say, EMBRACE YOUR PAST ... because you helped mold OUR pasts, too. (kk)

I had forgotten that The Young Rascals performed at the high school prom in my town in 1966 or 1967 ... a few years before me. The town went into a monetary debate over whether the students were allowed to spend so much money (in comparison to local bands, of course) to bring a 'name' to their Senior Event. The students argued that they had raised the money over a four year course of time and should be able to spend it the way they saw fit. Since I have already stated The Young Rascals performed, you can correctly surmise that the students won.
Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano
I remember the days when big-name bands used to perform at the local high schools ... I was fortunate enough to see both The Association and The Turtles at mine ... and, of course, former students The Ides Of March a few times, too! Back then you could "win" a concert ... collect the most chewing gum wrappers (or make the longest chewing gum wrapper chain link) ... all kinds of crazy ideas. (I remember The Grass Roots being pretty big on this stuff with a number of high school shows.) You just don't see this sort of thing anymore. (Of course back then you also got six headliners for under five bucks, too ... sometimes doing two or three shows a day!!!) kk    

The Rascals Reunion? I've got no opinion as it's going to be a show and I have no idea what the script is. If Felix is involved it's guaranteed to be great. They've reunited many times. I love them and am sure whatever they do will be well received. (Understatement) I've always loved the music Felix makes. He's one of my dearest friends. The band was always great and were the last I saw them ... but that was 25(?) years ago in New York. Felix sounds very excited so that tells me it'll be quite a big deal! I'm sure Steve Van Zant will spare no expense to make it amazing! As far as the band goes - that's a given. Felix always tours with amazing musicians so it's always been a top notch performance Rascals or solo.
Henry Gross

I didn’t even realize the Rascals were reuniting until I saw it in Forgotten Hits. I see they’re doing three shows in NY. I really hope they do a national tour. I saw Felix up in Milwaukee about 6 or 7 years ago and he was great. I also have heard him asked why he doesn’t do a reunion with the original band. Felix responded, “Why isn’t remarrying your ex-wife from 20 years a good idea?” - lol
Greg Favata
Well, I guess he's got a point there! Sounds like this is all Little Steven's doing ... and were it not for him and all his efforts, this reunion wouldn't be happening at all. Still going to be cool to see the original band back together again ... let's hope they make it out Chicago way.
When we saw Felix perform here a few years ago, his back-up band was pretty disappointing ... a bunch of young guys who were at least half his age ... and seemed to have no appreciation of, or affection for, all for this timeless music. You can't play blue-eyed soul without any soul ... and they didn't exhibit any on stage ... it was disappointing because Felix himself was very good ... he just didn't seem to have the support of his players. In fact (and I know I've told this story before) the highlight of the evening was when the band ripped into Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" ... it rocked every bit as good as the record ... and it was pretty clear from that point forward where the band's hearts were really at. (kk)

GREAT Felix Cavaliere Interview ... Spot-On ... A Perfect 10!!!
David Salidor

You had a great interview with Felix Cavaliere. It was a very enjoyable read. Although those guys have had their differences, I hope that they can get back together for a small tour. I would take a road trip many miles to the nearest city to see the real Rascals! Felix is on my interview 'bucket' list. If you think he would ever be willing to do an interview, please keep me in mind.
Phil - WRCO
I've talked with several jocks on the list about interviewing Felix in conjunction with the upcoming reunion shows. Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot. Let's see what we can do. (kk)     

It’s about time they’re back together! They were the Young Rascals, then the Rascals, but never the Old Wrinkles. Thanks, Rascals!
Phlash Phelps / XM60s  

The Rascals are getting back together. If they don't do "Love is a Beautiful Thing" and "See" in the set list, I'll be pissed. Other than that ... WOW!
Bob Stroud / The Drive

I've already got my tickets and I'm going! I remember that first Rascals album like it was yesterday. You know, back then they didn't make albums that were great ... they made singles ... and then you'd go buy the album and you'd get a bunch of filler. But two of the greatest rock and roll albums ever released were their first one and then Time And Peace. Remember that one? Those were great, great albums by ANY standards in rock and roll. I've Been Lonely Too Long, Come On Up, I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore ... those are GREAT songs. Remember Love Is A Beautiful Thing ... The Rascals are one of the few artists back then that made GREAT albums. Everything on there was really, really good. They were rock ... they were blue-eyed soul ... but really they were a nightclub band ... and a lot of those nightclub bands did that ... that's how they got such a wide variety of sound. Felix has played consistently for years ... and I'm the world's biggest Dino Danelli fan ... I mean, I think he's one of the most under-rated drummers in the history of rock and roll. You know, they started to get back together a while ago when they did that thing for the Kristen Carr Fund. But now Little Steven is making it happen and it's going to be great. Like I said, I've already got my tickets ... and I can't wait to see them.
Scott Shannon

Clearly a "fan favorite" (especially coming from two of the most respected jocks on the planet), here's "Love Is A Beautiful Thing" by The Rascals ... originally the B-Side to their "You Better Run" single in 1966 ... and a prominent track featured on their first Greatest Hits package, "Time Peace".  (And didn't Michael Bolton get sued for borrowing just a little bit too heavily for his 1991 Hit "Love Is A Wonderful Thing"???)  kk


Hi Kent,
Good to see your interview this morning.
I have been a professional singer since I was 15, and one of my biggest influences was Felix.
I was 10 years old in 1967 and my Brother and I wore out his copy of Time Piece by the Rascals.
The thing that most impressed me about them in their early days was they were a rock band with an R&B lead vocalist. Felix was the guy that showed me that you could be a white guy and still have a lot of soul like an Otis Redding or a Wilson Pickett.
I can only hope that this show comes to the twin cities. Yep, I was a Beatles and Beach Boys freak, but I'm a singer because of Felix.

Hi Kent!!
I was completely in the dark -- what a shock to hear that Scott is no longer!! Does he still have his website??
Thanks, Kent!
Scott Shannon "is no longer" only as it relates to WLS here in Chicago. He can still be found 24/7 on The True Oldies Channel, streaming worldwide on the web. (And I'm guessing that this is how quite a few Chicagoans are listening to him these days!) kk

Hey Kent,
Your interview with Scott Shannon was interesting. I still say the reason that radio programming has become generic, homogenized, and uninspired is because of the Telecommunications Act of 1997, where just a very few companies were given the ticket to own almost ALL of the radio stations across the country. This article was written ten years ago, but it still holds up today, as things are now even worse in the industry. I think you will agree with what it says.
-- John LaPuzza

As possibly the BIGGEST fan today of classic 60's / 70's / 80's WLS radio, I can only say that the format at WLS will continue to change, but these DJs need space to run. If the station is going to call itself "Chicago's Classic Schlock," at least give us the personalities that once eased the windy city weather with joking comments or time and temperature jingles. Give us the guy who created things like "The Big Man in the White House," or "Boogie Check." Give us the guy who is the "world's ugliest disc jockey' and loved ebbing on top of a pizza. Give us "Just Plain Fred," the chili guy who let us "choose your news." They don't have to do those bits, but let them create and USE their talent.
In the 60's, I sure sat at my radio listening for BOTH the A and B sides of a new Beatles single to be played on WLS, BUT in the meantime, it was the often satirical bites that these guys explored that made the imagination go wild and that is what DJ radio should be about. Let the DJ minds run wild and maybe you can keep some listeners even with a super mix of Elton, Doobies and Petty. If you don't, you may soon be playing "Our ratings are in jeopardy, baby."
-- Real Oldie WLSClark

What!!!!!!!!!!!! Who is this guy kidding, playing stuff from the 70's and 80's and saying that it is not oldies. You have a great line up of DJ'S and this program director is going to screw it up by playing the same stuff over and over and over ... I am so sick of program directors playing only the top hit (or maybe two hits) of a certain artist. Playing only top ten hits (gee, what about something that only hit #28 or #32 on the playlist in the 60's) ... and, of course, playing selected cuts from the Beatles, the Stones, the Beach Boys, the Supremes and a few others until you want to gag!!! If I ever win 250-mill in the lottery, I would buy a radio station with true variety. Every week I sleuthed garage sales, flea markets, rummage sales and 2nd hand stores, It amazes me all the great music I bring home from famous artists with singles I have never heard and obscure music from labels and people I have never heard of!!! I better stop now ... I feel like I'm getting in the Steve Allen mode!
Yours in music
Mike De Martino
President of the Lovejoy Music Club

Hi Kent,
Regarding WLS-FM’s shift of format from oldies to classic hits and the exit of Scott Shannon ... I’m sure that the station did their market research and found that they were getting lower audiences than those stations playing classic rock. Hence the change. They kept the oldies djs in order to differentiate the WLS-FM from the others and maybe to keep those listeners loyal who are loyal to them.
Is this not part of an unavoidable trend? A listener in his / her late teens, when Frankie Avalon opened the 1960s with “Why”, is now in his / her 70s. Unfortunately such a listener is not part of a demographic group appealing to advertisers.
Mike Edwards
And I get that ... but then why pitch to that audience by bringing back the classic jocks we all grew up with only to find out that they're now playing '80's music? It's mixed signals ... and it's driving listeners away. They constantly run their promos all day long as "the station that grew up with you", playing classic airchecks by Larry Lujack and Bob Sirott and Fred Winston and several others, harkening back to the Golden Era of WLS ... as if any of this has ANYTHING at all to do with what they're programming now. Pick one and go with it ... if we don't like it, we'll leave. If we DO like it, we'll stay. But don't call it "new, unique, innovative programming" when it's the EXACT same crap that's being played by every other station in town. And don't play up your legendary broadcasting team if you're not going to let them talk! That's what people are pissed about. (kk)

Nice job on the Scott Shannon interview. Please take a listen to what I have been doing on my web site,  
Click here: Bart Shore's Time Warp Radio   
I think you'll like it,
Bart Shore

Thanks, Bart ... cool site.  The Internet seems to be the place to find the widest variety of music these days ... quite often there are no rules to follow so you're able to delve a little deeper and feature some of these long-forgotten tracks.  (kk)
I was reading the Scott Shannon interview and thought this might be a good time to pass on my recent experiences here in the school system. Former students are carrying the 60's on with them. I am hearing stories from the middle and high schools telling me students are quoting me, or mentioning the program ("I had a reading teacher in 5th grade who played 60's cds and concert dvd's for our class). They might relate this to a history lesson, music lesson, art lesson, English lesson, or reading. It seems they are connecting it to every part of their lives. They are quoting lyrics, singing melodies and giving their opinions of their favorites on every level. Then yesterday I found there is a 'trickle-down' effect going on at MY school. I am in a 4th grade classroom where a teacher is giving a writing example using a pen-pal letter she had received in junior high. Her pen-pal lived in England and mentioned this great
band she was listening to that was becoming very popular over there. The name of the band? The Beatles. As soon as she gave the name, hands went up in the air, choruses of voices shouting, "I love The Beatles", and conversations trying to determine which is their best song began. When we delved into it, we found that former students had shared their learning in their own neighborhoods and
families and introduced younger kids to the 60's music they now loved. Tell THAT to the radio stations!
I admire Scott Shannon's attitude. His contributions will continue, but as for your now 'run-of-the-mill' radio station ... sad ending.
Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano
We see it everywhere we go ... new kids discovering this great music from the '60's ... it's played in theme parks, in pizza joints, at birthday parties, performed in school concerts ... it's feel-good music and there just isn't a whole lot of that to go around anymore. I've been saying for years that radio is missing the boat by ignoring their FUTURE audience. They don't want to market to 70 year olds? Fine. Then introduce a whole new generation to this music and give them the same chance to embrace it that we had growing up. There is NO other music like it. (kk)

Kent ...
Can you please call me or give me a number to reach you? Ya know Scott Shannon is the person who gave me the moniker "Radio's Best Friend" and we are close fiends. I agree with what you wrote 100%. Please reach out. I truly want to compliment you PERSONALLY. It's like you eavesdropped every thought in my mind! I'm sharing your piece with loads of people!
We got quite a few compliments on our "speaking our minds" piece ... from several people who asked to have their names withheld because of their own position in radio ... and disgust with this narrow-minded programming. It was a well-read article that apparently hit home with MANY listeners who feel the same way. Now the $64,000 question ... is anybody listening?!?!? (kk)

GREAT interview, Kent!
Larz / Chicago Radio And Media
Two home runs the last two days!

You really hit the nail on the head with this one.
Thank you for SAYING what so many of us have been thinking and feeling for so long.

Hi Kent,
Haven't checked in with you in a long time but I felt I had to speak out on this subject. I want to go on the record as saying I will not listen to the new 94.7. I truly enjoyed Scott Shannon and the music he played. I also listened to Dick Biondi off and on and to Casey Kasem on Sunday AM when they reran his top 40 shows from the 70's. Being 65 years of age my taste in music is pretty much 50's, 60's and some 70's and times change and I can accept that. I spend a lot of time at my computer and there are lots of really good oldies station on the internet. We all know that most stations cater to a younger audience to get better ratings. So we move on, still have our avenues to hear what we want to and I want to thank Scott for the last five years of trying to keep the music alive.

Thank you for sharing your classy "farewell-to-Chicago" interview from one of the classiest guys I ever worked with, the legendary Scott Shannon.
Michael Damsky 

So glad you interviewed Scott Shannon! Not many gave Scott the respect he deserves! I know you don't care for me, not sure why, but Scott was the one that thought I was good enough to be on WLS and hired me. I am more than a decade younger than the current WLS air staff, perhaps that was your problem with me? I have a pretty decent resume, I've been pretty successful in my career, I even was top 5 (12+) at WLS while I was there! I'm sure it's not personal, I don't have enemies, I just do my job and have fun on the radio. Anyway, I just really wanted to thank you for giving Scott the chance to be heard.
Dave Fogel

AWKWARD!!! (lol) 
First and foremost, I can assure you that it was NOTHING personal ... for whatever reason, we just never connected. (If it makes you feel any better, I voiced the same opinion about Brant Miller's previous morning stint and, before him, Scott MacKay as well.) And the restrictions of the format may have had a lot to do with all of this ... I love listening to MacKay in the Morning now that he's on The River ... because a lot more of his personality comes out over the air ... and he's really a fun, likeable guy. When he was on WLS, I sometimes felt like he wasn't even paying attention to his own show!
I'm not sure recent WLS Management has ever fully grasped the concept of what tying the jocks' hands behind their backs and then sending them out to do battle does to their program ... hard to be entertaining when you're limited to five or six sentences per hour! My guess is that I'd find you quite entertaining in another situation with more freedom to let your personality shine through ... WLS simply didn't provide that format during the morning drive shift.
And I believe that's a big part of it, too ... morning drive on WLS has brought us legendary jocks like Larry Lujack and Fred Winston, which sets the bar pretty high for anybody else attempting to fill those shoes. If you read through my radio comments over the years, you'll see that this is a big stickler point for me ... I have pretty high expectations of what morning radio is supposed to sound like on WLS. As Scott Shannon said in his interview, those are VERY powerful call letters ... they should be putting their very best foot forward on ALL shifts ... but morning drive has always been the KEY spot in the rotation.
(By the way, I LOVED your age comment ... and ran that on the site the other day, too. I don't think it had anything to do with why WE never connected ... but for whatever reason, we just never did.)
That being said, I applaud you for taking the time to write ... it means a lot ... and I'm sure Scott Shannon will also appreciate your praise ... the media here in Chicago just couldn't get past the fact that Scott voice-tracked his program from New York ... they NEVER said if the show was good or bad ... they NEVER said that it was the highest rated show at the station ... they could only focus on the fact that it wasn't done here, never properly acknowledging the legendary broadcaster that he is. I am proud to have been able to use my forum to present this to our readers ... including (apparently) several media folks who may have been previously unaware of us. (From what I understand, the column has been circulated nationally to overwhelmingly positive response. Shouldn't that fact alone convince the big-wigs of radio that something needs to be done to preserve the integrity of their media??? Shouldn't that be as important to them as it is to me?!?!?)
All I want is good radio ... the best that radio can give. We've had it ... we've loved it ... and we deserve it. Simple as that. Like I said ... nothing personal ... just management understanding what the listeners want ... jocks loving what they do and having fun doing it ... and listeners loving what they're hearing. Appointment radio ... where we don't want to miss a thing ... afraid to tune out because we might miss something that everyone else will be talking about. You remember those days, don't you, Dave? Isn't that why you got into radio in the first place??? (kk)

Hey, Kent,
Wanted to say I think you did a really fine job surfing all the news out of WLS over the last few days, capping it all with a terrific interview with our friend Scott Shannon. The interview was perfectly timed and I think the tone was right on the money. We've all been around radio all our lives, and we know the wave it to narrower and narrower audience focus. Like the film industry, once the suits and the bean counters gained control, content went out the window. So, all the hard news aside, congrats on being perfectly positioned to present in-depth information and input from both sides of the fence.
Thanks for your excellent reporting.
Rick Barr, New Colony Six / Shadows of Knight
Thanks, Rick. One thing about Forgotten Hits is that we're always going to call 'em like we see 'em. We will ALWAYS be fans first. Whereas other publications carrying the news about the big WLS switch-a-roo are obligated to present this information only as a news story, without bias, we have always prided ourselves in getting to the real issues ... and how they affect the listeners and the fans. I think we presented Scott Shannon in the truest, most sincere light ... and we've been praised for doing so. Forgotten Hits ALWAYS comes from the heart ... and the gut. We tend to bring out a very honest and open side with our interview subjects ... and this is what the readers have come to expect. Typically, these subjects wear their superficial game-face and keep things pretty close to the vest ... but I'm proud to say that we've been able to strip some of that away and present a very HUMAN side to these sometimes otherwise unapproachable subjects. Scott Shannon can be proud of what we wrote ... together we came off as true crusaders for the oldies, a format very near and dear to both of our hearts. I thank him for coming to us EXCLUSIVELY to tell his side of the story ... hopefully that's a credibility we've earned now over the years ... and more artists will continue to follow suit. (kk)

Kent -
Just wanted to say that was a great article you did on Scott Shannon.
Obviously, you didn’t always agree with the things I did when I was there, but Scott and I worked very hard to make that station a success. And I believe we accomplished that ... at least for a little while.
Anyway, thanks for shining the light on Scott at a time when everyone else is focusing on the “new” guys and the changes to the station.
Hope all is well with you.
-- Michael LaCrosse
Wow! What a GREAT email to start the day today!
Thank you.
I don't know how closely you followed our "evolution" regarding your reign at WLS, but we ended up recanting virtually everything we said as the station developed. (Hell, for a while there, we were damn-near complimentary on a regular basis!) That's because, for a while there, I think you guys were playing the best mix and variety on the dial ... and said so several times on the webiste.
I guess we all resist change when it is thrust upon us ... and my biggest beef with radio today is that the stations put SO much emphasis on what the consultants say ... and what the "research" says ... and what everybody ELSE is doing ... that they lose sight of their audience completely. If they listened to the LISTENERS once in a while ... and took that at the value it really is ... not only would they breed more loyal listeners but those listeners would tell others about the great things going on at that station, converting more new fans along the way. Instead, every station on the dial is simply a clone of every other station on the dial ... there is NOTHING left to distinguish one from the other.
WLS has a long legacy of "personality radio" ... and they now have an absolutely power-house line-up in place ... yet these jocks (for the most part) are being told to shut up and just play the music. They're ignoring their greatest strength ... and the ONE thing that would set them apart from every other station in town ... in favor of playing the EXACT same music found up and down the dial. You can get a ROBOT to do that ... and, let's face it, a number of radio stations have done exactly that.
If you grew up in a time where radio MEANT something to you ... and you HAD to in order to have been in the business as long as you have ... it's almost an insult to our intelligence as listeners to be force-fed what the consultants TELL us that we want to hear ... instead of going to the source to find out what the listeners REALLY want to hear. If program directors would become "listeners" again ... think long and hard about what THEY would want from a radio station ... and what would keep them coming back for more ... MAYBE then we could turn things around. Yes, it means bucking the system ... but that's what will eventually push one station ahead of all the rest. It won't happen overnight ... it'll take some great word of mouth to make it happen ... but once people recognize you as offering something different ... something they look forward to tuning in to hear ... these robot days of radio will finally come to an end ... and stations all over the country will begin clamoring for GREAT personalities like the ones WLS now has to offer. Where will the next great Fred Winston come from? The next Larry Lujack or John "Records" Landecker? Who's going to keep the music of the '50's and early '60's alive once Dick Biondi leaves us? The station was BUILT on personality ... and by pushing the envelope to lead the pack. It was that attitude that made them #1 back in the day. Now they're just the same old / same old as everybody else. How much fun is that? How rewarding is that?
I truly believe you were on the right track there with the new mix of music you were offering ... it makes it a WHOLE lot more interesting when you don't know what might be coming up next ... hearing that "wow" song every couple of hours. Maybe WLS was just too controlled an environment for this way of thinking. I wish you success launching it somewhere else. My guess is that if you took that same wide-variety format, coupled it with GREAT radio personalities (like Winston and Landecker), gave them a chance to do what they do best and could convince a station to ride out the storm for six months, you would have a VERY successful radio station on your hands ... and things would continue to build from there. (kk)
I had no idea you did that. That’s very nice to know. Wish I would have followed it more closely.
I simply tried to do what is often time very difficult ... bring an oldies format into a more contemporary playlist without losing the heart and soul of the format. It was a work in progress when people started to question what we were doing, but like any decent plan, it just needed some time. And Scott and I worked very closely on it. We didn’t always agree, but we both had the same respect for the music and for the station in mind. Those call letters mean something.
While stations do have consultants, they don’t have to follow their advice. So do, some don’t. The smart stations pick and choose from the advice and do what they think is best for the audience and the station. If you had a research report done and showed it to various consultants, they’d each tell you to do something different. There would be no consensus. So in the end, they only provide an opinion ... a selected course of action.
We did a research project and we were consulted to go in a particular direction. But I felt strongly that it would have been the wrong thing to do, so I voiced my thoughts and convinced my bosses that we would be making a big mistake if we went with the suggested direction. It meant my job if I was wrong, but more importantly, it meant the well being of the station.
Fortunately, with a lot of hard work and diligent research of our own, we found a good mix of what worked well for clients, listeners, and management alike. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the same direction the station is taking now. But no one can take away what we accomplished while we were there. We carved out a respectable position in the marketplace that was successful for what it was intended to be – a station that attracted a wide range of listeners and was just different enough from everyone else that it could stand on its own merit.
Anyway, I do appreciate the nice things you said about me, even though I never saw them. I hope you continue to keep the oldies flag flying for Chicago. They need – and clearly want – an oldies station in that market.
You hit it right on the head ... I think what offends me the most is the abuse of some of the best known and most highly-respected call letters EVER to hit the radio market. WLS is a LEGENDARY station ... show some respect for all that they accomplished ... and do what you can to help keep that legacy alive. It's really the same thing we say about the artists and music that we feature here in Forgotten Hits ... "EMBRACE YOUR PAST" ... it's something to be PROUD of ... it touched more people than you will ever realize. Stay true to that standard ... and never lose sight of how you got there and what it means. WLS should have the BEST talent on the air ... we expect it. And they should be amongst the leaders in the industry ... not just another copy-cat station. Thanks, Michael ... I appreciate your comments ... and your efforts. (kk)


The big shake-up at WLS made national news! Everybody in the industry is trying to figure out the logic of hiring back a bunch of 'LS vets and then making them play music from the late '70's and '80's. (I read somewhere that the average age of their primary on-air talent is now something like 67 ... but they don't want to throw around the word "oldies" anymore. Go figure!) And that whole Jan Jeffries logic of "there's nothing else like it on the dial" is ridiculous ... this is all there is up and down the dial today ... there is nothing to make ANY of these radio stations stand out amongst the rest.  

If you REALLY want to make a statement ... and present something different ... announce that you're retiring acts like Bryan Adams, Journey, John Mellencamp, Chicago, the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles, Supertramp, Styx, Elton John, Billy Joel, Foreigner, the Steve Miller Band, Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen from the playlist ... simply explain that "if these are the artists you want to hear, you'll find them up and down the radio dial ... all you've got to do is push a button and odds are that one of these artists will come up ... because THIS is the music that every other station in town is playing. However, if you want to hear something truly unique ... something that you're NOT going to hear everywhere else ... then tune in to 94.7 - WLS-FM". Now THAT would be an attention getter ... a headline grabber ... a move in the right direction. You guys have brought back a legendary, killer line up ... and that's why WLS should play up their "edge" and bring back Personality Radio ... because THAT'S where they have a leg-up on the competition. Let these guys do what they all do best ... COMMUNICATE with their audience.  

There is a SERIOUS gap in radio station programming right now ... the music of the '50's ... the music that launched the whole rock and roll craze in the first place ... is all but gone from the dial. And now it looks like the move is on to eliminate the majority of the '60's music as well. Soon it will be as if artists like Elvis and The Beatles never even happened. Funny, too, because we just ran our series of Fifth Grade Essays explaining what '60's Music meant to them. No more British Invasion? No more Motown? Psychedelia? The Folk Movement? Bubblegum? The beginning of hard rock? Surf Music? Atlantic and Stax Soul? Mega groups like The Four Seasons, The Everly Brothers, The Drifters ... artists like Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and Ricky Nelson ... are all slowly starting to disappear for good, like they never even happened. The most diverse, creative and innovative music period of our times ... all being shut down like it never even happened.  

And it isn't just radio anymore ... even Billboard Magazine has now adopted the logic that the rock era begins with their first Hot 100 Chart in 1958, thus eliminating break-through songs like "Rock Around The Clock", "Johnny B. Goode" and "Good Golly Miss Molly" from the equation. Heck, this new logic has even eliminated Elvis Presley's first 26 Top 40 Hits ... and that includes TWELVE #1 Billboard Records!!! Elvis ... the biggest thing to happen in the advancement of rock and roll ... has already been reduced to a one-hit wonder on most radio stations ... (what else do you really hear anymore other than "Suspicious Minds"??? Or that RIDICULOUS "A Little Less Conversation" dance remix, which has absolutely NOTHING to do with Elvis, his sound or his era) ... and now Billboard Magazine, the Industry Bible, has cut him off at the knees, too!  

PERSONAL MESSAGE TO JOEL WHITBURN:  Please ... I'm begging you ... don't EVER adopt this logic in your publications!!! If anything, Joel has taken the OPPOSITE approach, now listing more and more of the "roots" records from the pre-rock era in their "Classic Songs" feature. Kudos for that, Joel ... this addition has only made your books that much more invaluable.
Radio is primed for a TRUE ... REAL ... AUTHENTIC ... unabashed Oldies Station playing the music from 1955 - 1975 ... pre-disco ... covering the first twenty years of rock and roll ... but playing ALL the hits of this era (not just the same 300 over and over and over again!) Calling them "oldies" and playing them proudly. Or go full bore and start The Top 40 Station ... if it made the Top 40, it's on the play list ... period. And they ALL get played ... period.  Hell, a Top 20 Station would be a welcome relief right about now!!!

And how about this idea? I think I've hit on a concept whose time has come. "Classic Rock" now seems to have fallen into the same rut, continually playing the same block of songs by the same group of artists, many of whom overlap with the very same songs and artists that everybody else is playing ... maybe it's time to revamp the Classic Rock concept a little bit, too!

So why not expand "Classic Rock" to include the early songs that are now being ignored by everybody else ... true, authentic rock tracks from 1955 - 1975. I believe that the world is ready for a brand new format: CLASSIC ROCK ... AND ROCK AND ROLL CLASSICS ... and then program these "new" tracks into the regular, daily programming ... two or three songs per hour ... "Rock And Roll Roots" specials on the weekends, profiling the music that helped shape rock and roll in the first place.  How about daily specials like "The '50's at 5, The '60's and 6, The '70's at 7 and The '80's at 8" ... heck, that'll fill eight hours of broadcast time every single weekday!  And be upfront about it ... let the listener know EXACTLY what they're tuning in to hear ... no surprises ... and no qualms about playing it all ... the music of our lives ... timeless ... music for the ages ... because it ALL belongs ... it's ALL part of our lives.  Feature an hour of "deep tracks" ... and then an album in its entirety every night at 11:00.  Can somebody PLEASE get onboard with this idea before this music disappears forever?!?!

And seriously ... what kind of blinders do these lame-brain programming consultants have on anyway?!?!? This week we raved about the up-coming Rascals Reunion. The reunited Beach Boys sold out shows all over the globe and had a Top Three Album ... their entire catalog has been reissued again along with two brand new hits compilations. The talk about a Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary Tour is at an all-time high. A few years ago The Beatles reissued their entire catalog in pristine sound and sales went through the roof. (Hell, The Beatles were outselling the biggest names in popular music with music that's going on 50 years old!!!) "Jersey Boys" is a box office smash everywhere it plays. How can you idiots NOT see this?!?!? When is SOMEBODY going to stand up and say "Fuck It ... I don't care WHAT the programmers and consultants say ... I'M giving the people what they really want to hear!!!" 
On second thought, maybe I should THANK radio for its never-ending, predictable narrow-mindedness ... after all, it's brain-dead thinking like this that makes Forgotten Hits more vital than ever!!! (kk)