“Why isn’t there any rock ‘n’ roll radio?”
That’s a question that we touched upon a few weeks ago. In a post titled Radio’s Wounded Business Model I noted that, strictly through their own fault, Radio executives have been driving listeners away in droves. Their increasingly narrow playlists and lack of local flavor sent music lovers to their P2P networks, iPods, and Satellite Radio.
That didn’t sit well with one man, according to a New York Times article I belatedly found this weekend.
This one particular person is not going to take this lying down. It doesn’t hurt that the man happens to be Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist, little Stevie Van Zandt:
“To hear Steven Van Zandt tell it, he had no choice. He had simply wanted to do a two-hour radio show, no big deal, on which he could play some of the garage rock he loves and have some fun. But when he pitched the idea to syndicators, what they told him forced him to turn his hobby into a crusade.
“They said, ‘Stevie, baby, we love you,’ ” he said, his eyes wide in mock disbelief, “but we cannot get rock ‘n’ roll on the radio anymore.’ ”
“For more than two years now Mr. Van Zandt has been waging his garage-rock war. He began with his radio show, “Little Steven’s Underground Garage,” for which he is host and programmer. When syndicators showed no interest, Mr. Van Zandt decided to distribute it himself; he employs a small staff for the purpose, and the show, which had its premiere on April 7, 2002, now plays on 136 stations around the country. He is also is the executive producer of three channels on Sirius satellite radio, including a garage rock channel.
Mr. Van Zandt’s self-styled crusade moves to a new level this weekend with a full-blown outdoor rock festival that is an unexpected highlight of the concert season. On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Randalls Island, more than 40 bands will blast and grunt and groove their way across the stage, playing various interpretations of garage rock – loud and uncomplicated musings expressed with the help of guitars, drums and little else – in a spectacle that will mix the godfathers of the genre with the very latest descendants.”
I continue to be amazed by the lack of foresight, judgement — and just plain old good taste — throughout the music industry. This level of incompetence leads me to just one question: Why aren’t these people running for Congress?
UPDATE: You can read more about the Underground Garage Festival here.
Little Steven’s Big Crusade
By BEN SISARIO
NYTimes, August 11, 2004