Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

THE BIG O



If you like good words, you will love this one: “Schadenfreude.” It was the Word of the Day on Wednesday May 10, 2000.

Pronounced “SHOD-n-froy-duh,” it means a malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others. Know anyone who has had a schadenfreude experience?

I thought of the word on Monday September 25, 2006 as I was listening to the return of Los Angeles DJ Rick Dees to morning drive time radio. Two years ago he was at the helm of KIIS radio and after a couple of decades of #1 morning radio, he was fired.

Now there isn’t a job in radio, TV or movies that one can honestly consider secure. Many times it is a revolving door and we’ve all experienced that truism, “What’s hot is hot and what’s not is not.” What always surprises me is the fact that there are so many people in show business who are schadenfreudests. Sorry to say, there were some radio people who truly took “malicious satisfaction” when Rick Dees (in the morning) got fired. If you don’t think that is true, think about how many DJs keep harking about Howard Stern’s sinking audience.

I, for one, was thrilled to see (and hear) that Rick Dees is back. I also want Howard to make it. I’m excited whenever I see anyone make a comeback or just hang in there.

The other reason I mention Rick Dees is because of something he said on his first day back. He was about to play a song and he took the time to explain who was singing and gave a little background. Then he said “I’ve been listening to a lot of radio during my hiatus. What disturbed me was that no one talks about the music they are playing. If you're going to play music … TALK ABOUT IT.”

GO RICK DEES !!!!!!!!!!

Pause

On my previous posting I asked the Mouse Clique to come up with a new category name to replace “Oldies” radio with something less … eh … you know … less … hem … OLD sounding! As always they came through with flying cliquers (you can scroll down and read the comments).

My favorite was a simple “O.” So from now on, as far as I am concerned, “Oldies” is now “O.” The top O station in town should be called, “The Big O.”

I got the impression from some of the Mouse Clique comments that many thought I was knocking the short list of songs that the big O was choosing. I have no beef with O radio’s choice of music or their play lists. I surely think their list should be a lot wider so they don’t repeat as much as they do, but they don't have the same luxury internet radio stations have.

Commercial radio’s biggest and most loyal audience is during drive time. They have only about a half-hour or so to reach the driver before he/she arrives at their destination, turns off the radio and goes to work (or school). They have determined, right or wrong, that the driving audience wants to hear certain songs when they tune in during that short attention span, and if they don’t, they will tune out and change the dial. The O station’s motto could be, “Give us 20 minutes and we’ll give you the music you want to hear … every time.” The News stations have been doing this for years. Every twenty minutes they repeat the same news, up-dating as the morning progresses. No one complains about that. Most of their audience is also changing every thirty minutes or so.

That is not what I feel is the real problem with O radio. The problem, as I hear it, is that the O DJs just don’t seem to relate to the music being played. There’s all that nostalgia and hundreds of interesting stories behind each song. However, what they talk about during their airtime mostly has nothing to do with any of that stuff. It almost seems as if the music was just another commercial: Sort of a 2+minute break so they can either plan the next segment of go to the bathroom. That’s why I was thrilled to hear Rick Dees back me up on his first day with “If you’re going to play music, talk about it.”

Top 40 Radio and Boss Radio of the 60s also had to keep grabbing the audience. But they used the music as the engine and the DJs were the ones who kept the motor revved up. The Real Don Steel, Sam Riddle, Wink Martindale, Wolf Man Jack, (the list goes on and on) loved that music and let everyone know about it.

Didn’t you appreciate Casey Kasem when he told you a little story behind each song before he played it?

I’ve got kind of a nutty idea. I’ve suggested it before but I don’t know if anybody else got it. How about “Talk Music Radio?” The DJ not only plays the music, he/she talks about the music. This takes a little research on the part of the program producer, but it would be worth it. Then, like a talk radio station, the DJ opens up the phone lines for a little discussion. Listeners talk about the music. They offer music opinions just like Talk Radio offers political opinions.

Think about it.

A good DJT (Disc Jockey Talker), could move it along, be funny and clever and still get all the commercials in and still have real time for the music.

Talk-Music Radio!

I know. I know. Surveys show that listeners want less talk and more music. Bull. Anyone who wants more music can just plug up his ears with an iPod and listen to 7,000 in a row WITHOUT INTERRUPTION! Is that what you want radio to turn into? If you really think so, than you know JACK (pun intended)!

Now get this: According to another recent survey, more, not less, people are watching more, not less, TV. That’s despite the fact that they have all those other life-diversion appliances available (IPods, Cell Phones, Blackberries, you name it, they’ve got it).

Why is this so? Because TV is entertaining and life can be really boring. Well, two-hour commutes can be pretty boring and commuters are also looking for entertainment. They also want to be involved. Getting involved makes it that much more … eh … entertaining.

Think of it this way. Radio is TV you can watch with your eyes closed. Give the audience a little background on the music and the artists and the audience will actually visualize that artist. When I was doing my show, I lip-synced so many hit records that people told me that when they heard the same record on radio, they visualized me instead of the artist. That is what makes radio so great. It’s very visual. The DJ becomes the visualator. The audience, the visualatee (add those good words to your vocabulary).

You know who is one of the most entertaining and involving people on radio? Rush Limbaugh. I don’t always agree with his political stance but he sure knows how to entertain. Imagine a Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Larry Elder or a Bill Handel with his own Talk-Music show. John and Ken? Talk about stuff happening. This would not be “O” no matter what music you were playing.

Think about it. Talk Music Radio. Out with the old - In with the new.

In the meantime: IF YOU’RE GOING TO PLAY THE MUSIC – TALK ABOUT IT!

Stay tuned.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Janis said...

Just wondering, if Howard Stern has a sinking audience, how come he's getting $600 MILLION for 5 years from Sirius? People like Rush & Imus WISH they could get half a deal like that.

About "Talk Music Radio"; Ever heard of a fellow named Jim Ladd? He's presently on KLOS. He's been doing something like that for years. He hosted a talk show on stations like KMET, KLSX, when it was a rock station, and the EDGE called "A Feast of Friends", had some of the biggest names in rock as guests, and took phone calls. There's also been something in syndication called Rockline, with various hosts over the years, including Ladd, that talked rock and took phone calls. As the folks at William Morris would say, "It's been done."

1:06 PM

 
Blogger Lloyd Thaxton said...

Hi Janis:

Thanks for your comment. I'll check out Jim Ladd. If he is doing a good job he should be promoted.

Bottom line: Talk-Music Radio is not just about putting Talk and Music together. It's the visualator that counts the most (did you look up that word?). Got to have a really good visualator.

And, that is the hardest part.

Lloyd

1:49 PM

 
Anonymous dana m said...

I didn't look up "visualator" in the dictionary, but I Googled it and the first result is a scuba diving mask that promises "A 2.5 times increase in field of vision."

Well, that pretty much defines the potential of Talk-Music radio, but 2.5 might be a low number!

Former KOOL 99.3 DJ Dave Mason's Talk-Music radio approach is the reason that I discovered Lloyd Thaxton "alive and well" on the web! The result of his interview of you on his morning drive-time show last year, Lloyd, resulted in my immediately "visualization" of you lipsyncing Cara Mia in a crazy looking Viking helmet.

I emailed Dave thanking him for the interview and shared my visualization. The next thing I knew I received an email from, who else but, Lloyd Thaxton, with the Viking helmet photo attached. Now that's bringing radio (and TV) to life!

I just happened to listen to Dave this morning at his new morning drive-time location KOGO News Radio 600 and even without a playlist or music he managed to include some music-related news. Unfortunately, news of the death of Paul Vance, one of the writers of the 1960 hit "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" wasn't good news, but never the less Dave hasn't completely forgotten the music just because he had a Schadenfreude experience!

I vote for Talk-Music radio!

3:40 PM

 
Blogger Gary said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:26 PM

 
Blogger Gary said...

To Dana,
Paul Vance is ALIVE AND WELL. The guy who died was an imposter who CLAIMED he wrote the song. The real Paul Vance is 77 now and has proven it is HE who wrote the song (and other songs) by providing royalty checks/receipts, etc. Strange story, but true. Check it out.
As for "Talk Music Radio", I would prefer "Music Talk Radio" with an emphasis on the MUSIC part, since that's what it's all about, but definitely get some jocks who know what they are talking about. A local "O" dj in town here was playing Fleetwood Mac recently and pronounced Christine McVie's last name as "McVye". I NEVER heard anybody say that before.
Some people just don't belong on radio.
NEXT!
Gary

4:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There use to be two DJ's in the Los Angeles area that told stories behind the scenes of the music they were playing. One was Brian Bernie at KRTH .... and Johnny Hayes as he did an hour called the Big 11 countdown on KRLA 1110 radio. As he played the top 11 songs from a particular week and year, he would tell stories of how that song became to be. BUT when the REAL KRLA was sold off to become a sports talk station and I think it's Disney radio now with different call letters. Johnny moved over to KRTH... where that wonderful master of how to lose an audience radio station, stopped the both of them from continuing that type of dialog. Held them down to just saying their name and the call letters. Then forced them out to retirement.

There was a fellow who has written a really great book about the goings on behind the scenes of the music that happen between 1955 to 1975. His name is Ron Smith. He was a DJ on WRLL an oldies station in Chicago, that recently fell to being another JUST another TALK radio station. Ron did the top 20 songs that where hits in Chicago and talked about how the music came to be. How a particular song may have been offered to someone else, who turned it down and it went to the second choice and became a major hit. With the question left behind. Would that song have been the same big hit had the other person taken the song in the first place. I listened to this show from WRLL by way of the internet, for over 2 years. It was a great show to hear more than JUST the music. But WAS is the operative word here. Most junior geniuses that are currently in control of the stations NOW, that operate in the major markets, hasn't got a clue as to what's what in the music biz that they play in.

Lloyd you should produce a Music Talk Show for someone like Rock IT Radio. There it would be a show by the one man that really DOES know all the people that made this era of music as good as it was.

Later,
Robert V.

2:44 PM

 
Blogger Mike Barer said...

Hey Lloyd, I remember you because your show was on the tube when the Beatles where hot. My cousin Burl Barer was starting out in radio in Walla Walla and we lived in our old house on Leonard Street. I was all of 7 years old. You must have been something for me to remember all these years. Glad that you are still healthy. I remember that you where one crazy guy. If you go to the IMDB, I am the one asking what you are up to now.

9:55 PM

 
Blogger Mike Barer said...

If I remember correctly, you had a beatnick doll on your show with hair down to his toes and sunglasses and he would hold a picketsign with some crazy message.

9:14 AM

 

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