It’s not a new development. Ever since the boring corporate rock stations gave us the FM band to play with in the mid 70s we’ve done what no-one expected. We’ve cut through all the schedulers, the pluggers, the hype and the payola and given music radio back to the people… with jocks like my good self as your guide.
I’m proud to be an AOR jock, have been for three or four years now. I feel like I *know* music, I mean deep music – real music – not this top 40 rubbish.
There’s no novelty hits on W-ALT-FM – just favourites and deep cuts from our favourite artists, and notable new music that you need to hear about. Think of us as your record collection. As your cooler friends cooler record collection – the one you learn from.
I don’t mean to sound like your old teacher, but a good AOR jock is an educator.
Sure, I want you to be entertained, but I also want you to discover something – learn something. I spend a lot of time choosing not just each track but every playlist. I’ll play you a hot Supertramp song, then the Beatles tune that inspired it. Then I’ll play some Doobies – in the same key, at the same speed, and then from that to Steely Dan with the same singer. You don’t need to worry about this, you might miss most of it, but everything is where it is for a reason.
AOR has been through some tough times – when punk broke, most of us didn’t know what to make of it. But the quality of some of the “new wave” was surprising. These days we’re glad to play Blondie, The Police and Talking Heads – maybe not straight after the Eagles but they’re in the mix. And classic soul has always been our thing – no color bar here! Bring on the Commodores!
Some people have been talking about bringing in a more “disciplined” sound, making it easier to sell ads and syndicate. But that’s the old model – that’s what ruined AM radio. On FM we proved that music mattered. And that someone with ears and a finger on the pulse could draw an audience – even break an artist.
This issue of R&R I’m reading – wow. There’s so much stuff about the future of stations like W-ALT-FM. If you look past the ads for all the great albums, there’s guys we know standing up and keeping the AOR fire burning. Maybe a few are showing their greedy colors, but in the main we stand strong. I like that.
Radio is a part of life, it’s a constant. It’s where you hear new music, discover oldies, get a sense of what the future of music holds. Everywhere I walk and everywhere I look I see kids with portable radios – they’re so cheap now! – making the music we play part of their lives. And it’s almost as if the big stations don’t realise what is happening.
There’s some stuff we don’t do – we don’t do sport for a start. We certainly don’t do disco – man! disco sucks, yeah! And we don’t do much news. But there’s other places you can get them, sometimes you just want music. And real music, good music, artists at the peak of their craft. Like Hall and Oates, Boston, Led Zep. Kenny Loggins. The timeless stuff.
[in 1985 W-ALT-FM moved to a “Hot Adult Contemporary” format, having been bought out by CBS-FM. It was sold in 1989, and the station moved to a heavily playlisted “classic rock” mix. By 1995, it was almost pure Country. Around the turn of the century it merged with two other local stations and now runs as a “Talk” station with a conservative slant.]