Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Radio's Infinite Wisdom

Another salute to the on-going wisdom of today's radio programmers.
One of our comrades in arms fighting the oldies battle has fallen ... and we feel compelled to talk about it.
Our good radio buddy Dave The Rave was fired from WIBG / Wibbage FM 94.3 a couple of weekends ago.  In fact, after a couple of false starts the Sunday Morning where we "sprung ahead" to Daylight Savings Time, they aborted the show after airing only the first few minutes ... and then afterwards informed him that it will not be returning to their line-up.
For those of you unfamiliar with Dave or Dave's program, "Relics And Rarities" has been airing for a good many years on outlets like XM Satellite Radio and Top Shelf Oldies ... and recently has been syndicated for broadcast over a number of stations sprinkled across the U.S. as part of their weekend "specialty" programming.  It featured a mixture of hits ... forgotten hits ... and "shouldabeen" hits ... records that sounded like they fit into the musical landscape at the time but, for whatever reason, just never caught on.
About the ONLY way to hear music like this today (with the incredibly tight play lists employed and enforced on terrestrial radio across the country) is on the Internet or through specialty programs like this one.  Typically, this is considered "weekend fare" ... a chance for the radio station to give their regular jocks some time off to spend with their families while the station broadcasts syndicated programs featuring music you don't always get to hear on the station ... Doo-Wop shows ... Elvis Only ... Breakfast With The Beatles ... Rock and Roll Roots ... Back to the '70's ... Cruisin' America ... SPECIALTY programs that step outside the confines of these tightly controlled play lists.
Now I do know that Dave had been battling with the station for a while regarding the "obscure content" of his show.  He was playing songs that management told him "didn't test well", one of the most familiar and robotic answers program directors are programmed and conditioned to dispense.  At one point he was told to feature more songs "from the list".
You all know the list I mean ... the dreaded "there is a copy of this list at EVERY radio station in America" list ... and "we ALL must play ONLY music from this list" ... because "anything else may be deemed too unfamiliar and drive listeners away".  So as such we, the listeners, are tortured by hearing the EXACT same songs every day at every stop on the dial. (We recently recounted the story of how Jeff James, one of our local jocks, was once reprimanded for playing "Come Monday" instead of "Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffet, accused at the time of costing the station 200 listeners by straying from that same dreaded list.  Because God knows the audience isn't intelligent enough to appreciate and accept ANOTHER song by Jimmy Buffet ... we can only digest one ... and that ONE is "Margaritaville" by golly.  That's why Buffet plays to sold out shows across the country where he performs a three hour set of nothing BUT "Margaritaville", right???)
Fact is, making Dave the Rave ... or ANY other jock for that matter doing a program like this ... play songs from "the list" completely destroys the whole concept of "specialty programming"!  If you're only going to hear the same songs during these weekend "breaks" as you do all week long, where's the escape?  What's special about THAT?!?!  And furthermore, how do you call the show "Relics and Rarities" if you're REALLY playing "same old and same old"?!?!?
I can assure you that NOBODY tunes in to Dave The Rave's Show to hear Billy Joel ... or Foreigner ... or Boston ... or Fleetwood Mac ... or Steve Miller ... or John Cougar Mellencamp.  The options to hear THIS music are literally ENDLESS ... you can turn on virtually ANY station in America and hear these exact same songs non-stop, 24 hours a day.  The escape IS specialty programming on the weekends ... and, as such, these programs have become very popular with the connoisseurs of music out there who have had enough of the cookie-cutter format being shoved down our throats on a daily basis by nearly every other radio station from coast to coast ... because that's what they THINK we want. 
Two tracks specifically cited as being obscure were "The Monkey Time" by Major Lance and "Any Way You Want It" by The Dave Clark Five, a song we featured right here in Forgotten Hits a couple of weeks ago as an alternative suggestion to the Journey song by the same title that plays fifteen times a week on every Classic Rock and Classic Hits radio station in America.
For the record, BOTH of these songs were Top Ten Hits.  Obscure?  Only because radio has rendered them so by completely ignoring them for the past fifty years.  But both were legitimate hits that fall squarely into what a good "Relics And Rarities" radio program should be playing.
Most appalling to me is the fact that WIBBAGE (much like WLS here in Chicago, who we bitch about all the time) has a long-standing, rich heritage of radio broadcasting history.  It is, without question, one of the "bigs" ... and, as such, should know better.  Their audience ... and their legacy ... was built by playing these very tunes that now "don't fit" or "aren't on the list" ... and that's because the people in charge today haven't got a clue as to what good radio is ... or how good radio came to be.  And it's that penalty that the rest of us have to live with on a daily basis.  By the same token, I have to commend Dave for sticking to his guns ... and the integrity of his program ... by refusing to play songs "from the list".  It's not what "Relics And Rarities" was ever supposed to be ... and I give him credit for staying true to his fans.
On the plus side, you can still catch Dave The Rave on Sunday Nights doing a three hour version of his show "Relics And Rarities" on Top Shelf Oldies ... and syndicated one hour and two hour programs also play on several stations that stream over the Internet so that you can tune in and listen regardless of where you live.  Archived shows (including the one that never got the chance to air in its entirety) can be found on Dave's website.  (See link below)
As regular radio continues to drive us away, we've got to find other outlets to hear the music we enjoy.  This is a good place to listen.  Likewise, we regularly compliment the programming going on at Rewound Radio, who push the credo "It's not how old it is ... it's how good it is".  We're in favor of ANYBODY stepping outside the box and playing the hits that are NOT on the list ... and we applaud the radio stations and disc jockeys who do.  (kk)
From Dave The Rave's Facebook Page (March 10th ... aka "The Morning After"):
I was officially notified this morning that indeed my Sunday morning show on WIBG-GM has been terminated because it did not fit the current format of the station. I respect the right of a station to determine what they feel is in their best interests. Sometimes those decisions are good ones, and sometimes very poor decisions. But it is how radio works and I accept such.
If you have any questions or comments please direct them to rickrock.wibbage@gmail.com. I do wish to thank the many great listeners of this station that I connected with over the almost five years I spent at
WIBG Wibbage FM 94.3. I thank the owner Rick Brancadora who hired me, and Bobby Emmons for recommending me. Just know that I maintained the integrity of what my show is about musically, and that as promised, I did not quit on the listeners. Archived shows at www.davetherave.com, and inquiries from other stations are welcome. Thanks for your support.