Thoughts and music of double J x

Turn On The Juice!: MfX: The Edge! LvRpL Needs An Alternative! K-Rock!

crashing in

Liverpool has had 2, perhaps 4 great cultural eras. The first being the Merseybeat years of the early 60’s, which spawned The Beatles and a whole host of hit paraders. The next being the scene that grew up around Eric’s, a club on Mathew Street (just near where The Beatles famously played a generation earlier, at The Cavern).  These included Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and Dead Or Alive, concluding with the near global domination of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, whose first 3 singles all topped the UK pop chart in 1984 The more debatable 3rd great cultural period would be the Cream era, beginning in 1992 when the superclub-to-be was launched at city centre nightspot Nation. And bands such as Space and Cast dominated the ‘britpop‘ charts. The 4th was when The Coral, The Zutons, Miles Kane and Deltasonic Records brought us screaming into the 21st century as a ‘Sound City’. However the one thing that the last era and the ‘5th Generation’ suffer from is a lack of radio play in their home city, Why? Many have opinions and reason… For me it’s a story of ‘Crash & buRn’

20 years ago (1995) the audio landscape in Liverpool, England was as diverse and amazing as it ever was, is today or ever will be, the diversity of genres in the city ranged right across the genres and borders, yet Radio in the city ignored not only emerging talent but established and breaking artists also. Cream had the dance scene sewn up, meanwhile The Krazyhouse and The Lomax were two venues/clubs that were bringing local talent to the fore and established artists through the door alongside future headline acts (stereophonics, space, ocean colour scene, catatonia, feeder, the verve, fear factory, oasis, radiohead are amongst many future headliners that played) So imagine the excitement when Ex R1 Dj Janice Long announced that there was to be an ‘Alternative‘ station in the city… In the application for a full-time licence, Crash FM said it would provide an alternative rock and dance station, aimed at the 15 to 34 year old market in Liverpool… It was to just be a month long RSL but if it worked then another would be done and finally a Full Time Alt Station would be in the city (XFM in L’don had proved it could be done) So when this RSL was undertaken every bedroom, club and broadcast jock wanted in… I got the nod to present a ‘Rock Slot’ and for me as a Dj in the city the excitement was quite something! Crash FM hit the airwaves, the ‘Spirit Of Peel’ was alive and kicking…


I remember one night when my show was to air it was in the ‘Graveyard shift’ (After Midnight) but I did not care… It fell on a night when I was to dj at The Krazyhouse for a gig that saw rising stars Bush play at the club (they were headlining arenas in America) Gavin Rossdale singer with the band agreed to do an interview and acoustic song for my show (which we recorded in the K! dressing room) and this was to be my 1st serious on-air feature on Crash, so after the gig I drove out to the temporary home for the RSL broadcast, tape in hand, also along for the ride were the support band for Bush who’s singer was for me a great new talent (Brian Molko – Placebo) their debut album would not surface until July 96′ so this was indeed ‘Early Days’ for the band. So I did the show, Crash had it’s 4 weeks on air, positives all around and it would return for round two…

So after another run and some backing, Crash went full time in 1998 with Liverpool’s first real alternative to CityFM and Merseyside, but it didn’t last long as money talks, it seems that advertisers were not happy at what they were hearing on air and the backing was not there, granted some of the dj’s were not either, those that were simply brought something special to the airwaves in the city… The station re-branded as Juicefm and you can tune in today to find out why that day alt radio in the city died. Janice returned to R2 (where she still has an awesome late night show) We all returned back to our other dj duties and carried on regardless. I did return to Juice to produce a show for two years called ‘The A-Train’ (Can you guess what the ‘A’ stood for) but the suits and ties once again decided that Alternative/Rock/Indie was not a viable product (Even though I had My Chemical Romance in the studio when they were #1 in America) bands such as The Killers, Dandy Warhols, Muse, Linkin Park, Coldplay, Elbow, Korn, Slipknot, amongst countless other passed through the studio doors to hang out, chat and do ‘sessions‘ but the day I was in the studio with Dave Grohl and the fact that the Head Of Music did not know he was the singer in The Foo Fighters, let alone the drummer with some band called ‘Nirvana’ made my decision to stop real easy…

So here we are 20 years later, Sound City has just had it’s Eighth Day and how many of the great acts featuring got mainline plays on the airwaves in the city… You’re guess is as good as mine… So can it change? Will it change? It Has To Change!!! Lets Make A Change!

i am

K-Rock, K-Roll, K-Zone… 2 hours of alternative rock, metal, indie, eclectic, new, old, here, now, there, then, up, down, in, out, quiet, loud, shake & stir… Produced by DarkHollow Featuring Indie, Rock & Classics mashed up into two hours of great radio! Tune in &Turn Up Loud! On-Air in the k-zone…. Kicking in the Church Of Rock N’ Roll. Let’s Go Krazy… Love It Loud. The Best Classic Rock, The Best New Rock & The Best Not Rock But Is Rock!

College Rock is a term that was used to describe alternative rock before the term “alternative” came into common usage, because it was played on student-run university and college campus radio stations located in the United States and Canada in the 1980s. The stations’ playlists were often created by students who avoided the mainstream rock played on commercial radio stations. The bands of this category combined the experimentation of post-punk and New wave with a more melodic pop style and an underground sensibility. It is not necessarily a genre term, but there do exist some common aesthetics among college rock bands. Artists such as R.E.M., U2, The Cure, Camper Van Beethoven, The Smiths, XTC and The Replacements became some of the better-known examples in the mid 1980s. It also embraced the 90′s and noughties ‘Acoustic Rock’ of Jeff Buckley, Radiohead & Ryan Adams

Many might argue that the entire Seattle scene of Nirvana, Pearl jam, Soundgarden et all was born of this religion just as Stipe and co began to lose theirs! Even Green Day and Jimmy Eat World owe a debt to the ‘scene‘ in fact any band that has picked up a guitar in the last 25 years that has not had the ‘metal’ tags around it’s neck has one foot stuck in the genre… The modern age has seen CMJ (College Music Journal) take up the strain of the pressure placed upon artists to gain coverage outside that secure mainstream bands such as Against Me, Rise Against, Royal Blood and Gaslight Anthem are ‘Sons Of Springsteen’ and owe just as much to the ‘College Rock’ tag, Tramps like us may have been Born To Run, or Born To Lose but we were Born To Be Heard!

fraggle face

Those (like me) who remember when we really were in a ‘Radio Free Europe’ and there it is, Modern Day College Rock! music that has something to say, it has an edge BUT it has melody and this makes The Buttons right at The Front! This is a great ‘Retro-Modern’ music that’s got a long road ahead with shades firmly on for their bright future. Now if we can only convince the Radio people that College Rock is back from black and ready to become major unit shifters then we really would be talking, but it was hard first time around, I don’t envisage it being any easier now, but I for one am going to try! Get Fraggled!

Oh and one more thing! Over %75 of ‘College Radio’ And ‘Alternative‘ ones in the USA have MORE listeners on FM and More hits to their site & More ‘likes’ and interaction on their Social media than %90 of the UK’s Commercial Radio Stations including most of the ‘Big‘ hitters like heart, capital etc. And they wipe the floor with City/Capital in my city of choice! In fact the combined listenership of those two stations does not equal the biggest of the Alt-College stations in America. So think on next time you spin the dial to find the same ol’ song and dance!

Meanwhile ‘Crashing In’: An hour mix of some classic alternative tunes from the only alternative radio 

Read on for how Toronto  embraced the ‘Alternative‘ and perhaps understand that if they can… We can!!! Meanwhile… ‘We Want The Airwaves’


The Edge is doing quite nicely,  thank you very much—and having Indie 88.1 in the Toronto radio market helps to shine a light on a music segment that could use some promotion in the city.

That’s a takeaway from chatting with Dave Farough, General Manager of 102.1 the edge, along with Q107 and AM640. Defensive or offensive about having competition in the market he is not. “We need more champions for local heroes and Canadian acts in general,” he says enthusiastically over the phone from Corus Entertainment’s connected waterfront complex in the city. His enthusiasm is infectious, as his concerns are real. “We know we can never get back to the share of market the Edge had in 2004,” he says candidly. “The world has changed over the last ten years. Now we are competing with the Rdios, YouTubes of this world—and we know as much as 30-percent of our audience is listening on smartphones, which the PPM audience measurement service is having a challenge tracking. In fact, they have a hard time tracking younger demos period. And it’s not unique to us. It’s the same for all radio stations”

Farough is a team cheerleader for Canada’s radio community and doesn’t like to detract from what others are doing, even if he is daily in a rough-and-tumble fight to win his own war. He speaks highly of Doug Bingley, owner of Indie 88, and admits it’s a tough-go being an alternative music station in a market where pop rules. The heritage FM, once dubbed ‘the Spirit of Radio’ has long championed the next ‘wave’ of musical stars, but as trends evolve it’s sometimes a bumpy road. “Indie, Alt-call it what you will, the format has to be flexible,” Alan Cross chimes in over the phone.

If anyone has an ear to the ground, Cross is it. He looks back at the trends: “In the ’90s it was big guitars and grunge, but the format has evolved with the music. We’re trending back to the ’80s. Pop has, again, become more melodic, lush productions without dominant guitars are what people are listening to (and purchasing) these days. “The format has to be elastic. Flexible. And we are attentive to these trends and I think we are evolving easily with the times.” The ratings are proving this out, but selling audience isn’t as easy as it once was. Cross and Farough both ‘estimate’ mobile listening now accounts for as much as 30-percent of listenership, but the data isn’t there to sell the advertising agencies. “It’s coming,” Farough explains, but it’s not data that can be mined in Canada-yet.

Another issue for the radio community in general is that Boomers are ageing, but agencies are still buying 25-54 adults. “Boomers, and there are a lot of them, have a lot of disposable income and many have turned or are already 60-plus. We need to convince agencies that this block of audience doesn’t just roll over and die and stop listening to music.”The older demo so far is not an issue for ‘NY. The station’s core is Adults 18-34  splitting 65/35 male-female. Cross would like to see that split narrow, say to 55/45, using music and imaging to widen the core listenership. Q’s core audience is adults 35-54 with a 65/35 split favouring males. Eight months ago Corus made the decision to re-brand the Toronto flagship rock FM, shifting its tag from Toronto’s Classic Rock to “Toronto’s Rock”. “It opens up the door to widening the music mix, adding newer records to the mix,” Farough says by way of explanation. “The Sheepdogs, Black Keys-these are acts that fit easily in with the songs and artists Q has championed for years. And part of our core value is to champion new acts,” a statement Cross readily champions himself.

Both see Indie 88’s presence in the market as a positive. “More radio is good,” Cross says, emphatically. “We want more opportunities to have people talking about and listening to the radio, and getting back listeners who became disenfranchised” and turned to streaming audio alternatives. The online habits of listeners is something both are keenly aware of, which is why Corus has invested heavily in new apps branded to the chain’s AM and FM stations nationally. “We went into this with our eyes wide open, knowing that the downloadable applications had to make the listening experience easier…and BETTER,” Farough says.

Easier by offering clear access to the stations on any mobile platform, engaging by crafting a set of tools that allow audiences to engage directly with the station, with each other-and offer special events to reward loyalty. “I’m optimistic about radio’s future,” Farough waxes. “I’m not one of those nay-sayers one hears too often at conferences. In another time there was the transistor radio and that helped explode radio listenership. That’s what the mobile phone is today. It sits in everyone’s pocket and brings radio back to audiences on the move. As an industry we have to promote together: concert promoters, record companies, broadcasters. We need to be championing tomorrow’s talent, selling the fact that music and the content between the songs is a fantastic part of day-to-day lives. The in-fighting and publicly debating negatives don’t do anyone any good (other than, perhaps, make good headlines). There’s opportunity out there and we’re out to grab it, make money and have fun doing it.” – Interview by David Farrell


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