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Posted By: Jim Liddane on: 07/11/2007 19:52:14 EDT
Subject: RE: Question For Bob

Message Detail:
Hi John!

What you are saying makes perfect sense - as usual - but it would be a terrible mistake to presume I know what I am talking about.

I am over here in Europe whereas radio for me, starts and ends with the USA, and in that market, I might have survived 20 minutes (on a good day).

Of course there is a need for the real specialist DJ - every station needs that edge that makes it unique amongst its competitors, and for oldies stations, it is the guy who knows what he loves, and loves what he knows.

He can make you want to listen to a track you never heard before simply because you get caught up in his enthusiasm and you trust his judgement.

There is alwas a need for the expert (over here we call them "anoraks"), but the problem still is getting past the front door.

And as a former DJ and a former PD, I undertsand that problem only too well.

As a PD you know (or hope you know) what will work safely.

Play the Beatles, Supremes, Elvis etc., etc., and you know you are safe.

They say that no middle-ranking exec ever made a mistake buying IBM and no PD ever made a mistake playing Frankie Valli.

That's true, but nobody broke too many barriers doing any of these type of things either.

But you do that because of the fear factor.

I've been there - I part-owned two stations - and I know what the pressures are like to play safe.

Those pressures are not neccessarily imposed by somebody else - sometimes the need to make sure you will eat next week (and also that your staff will eat next week!), forces you to impose them on yourself.

But I also know what it feels like when a DJ looks at you as though you are letting him down by telling him what to play, when quite clearly, you know less that he does about his music.

But then, business is cruel and radio is a business.

That is why I like Ultimate Oldies so much - I get to hear what I would probably not have had the guts to program myself.

Guts like Jerry Blavat and Dick Bartley are/were great. They are one-offs in a business of thousands. They can afford to be brave.

Alan Freed was the first American voice I heard on radio, broadcasting on AFN (American Forces Network) in Europe, and he blew me away - not because of his voice or his style but because he so clearly loved what he was playing, and I still play Dick Biondi on WFBW off old reel tapes because he quite clearly loved being who he was. (I believe, he still sounds great today in Chicago).

But (and I know you will hate me saying this), the legends had it easier than we think.

They were not playing "oldies" -they did not have to worry about song burn out. They were playing currents, and when a song burned out, they simply moved to the newest To0 40 entry. And as we now know, there was a never-ending stream of great songs in the fifties and sixties.

Nowadays, oldies PDs have to worry about over-playing songs. There are only so many sure-fire audience pleasers - and once people get tired of them - what are you left with?

Thanks for putting up with my over-long diatribes.

Sometimes I wish I knew what I was talking about.

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