When I was 19, I was a DJ for a commercial radio station in North Carolina, covering the midnight shift while the regular midnight guy copied music from CDs (the first station in the market to go all-digital!) to cartridges (like 8-track cassettes, with one single song on each and a special non-audible code inserted to tell the player to stop when the tape had cycled back to the beginning of the song). The music project he was working on was in preparation for the station to change format from adult contemporary to oldies, which at that time was defined as "any song recorded prior to the rise of singer-songwriters in 1972." This period of rock history ended when I was three years old, so I peppered my talk breaks with trivia and facts about the music, rather than the personal anecdotes that the other DJs could tell about the first time they had heard the song on the radio.
Since that brief foray into the radio business, I've long wished for the opportunity to get back into it, only without the cutthroat business side of things. (Shortly after the station changed formats, a new program director was hired from another station. His first act was to fire the entire on-air staff and replace them with everyone he worked with in Kansas City.) On December 7, 2010, I got my chance with my debut on the Cape.
At the time I was playing everything that was in my music library, which was substantial, but I always wanted to try and work some older music into my shows, music that I didn't have. The weeks turned into months, and I was having such a good time DJing on the Cape that my idea to work the oldies into my shows never materialized.
Shortly after the sunset of City of Heroes in 2012, I went on hiatus due to bandwidth issues in the home that DJ Amethyst and I were living in at the time. We returned to the Cape in the spring of 2014 once we got our own place with a jointly run show that focused as much on the banter between her and I as it did the music that we played.
While in the midst of an ongoing project to clean up our music library (fix incorrectly tagged music, delete duplicate songs, etc.) it crossed my mind that it would just be easier and less time consuming to start a new music library from scratch. And that's when the oldies bug came back to give me an idea.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has enshrined nearly 200 performers and about 35 early influences in its 30 years of existence. Those musical acts represent the foundations on which we built today's popular music. From rock's earliest days of being a blues offshoot to more modern genres such as metal and hip-hop, the Hall of Fame covers a wide variety of musical tastes. With the more recent inclusion of artists that are still recording hits today, creating a library solely of Hall of Fame artists seemed to be a perfect way to play music from the 50s to today.
My new library is starting out small, but mighty, with greatest hits compilations, anthologies, and box sets from many artists inducted in the Performer category. I'm also working on a side project consisting of those few artists that have been inducted as an Early Influence, and once that library has grown larger I'll be doing special shows focusing on the roots of the roots. The end goal is to feature the entire discographies of every Hall of Fame artist, a task that will take years to compile. If I'm lucky, I'll still be with the Cape when the project is finished.
It's fitting that I look to the Hall for my thematic inspiration. In 1986, I was a charter member of the Museum that houses the Hall itself. For many years, you could go to a computerized kiosk in the museum lobby and search for my name among the charter members that gave the Museum its start. The kiosk long ago moved out of the lobby and into the food court, and has since been replaced with a printed leather-bound notebook that's accessible at the information desk. In my last visit to Cleveland, I went to the Museum and found my name, in its small way, beside those of legends.
It may seem confining to limit my library to around 235 musical artists, only adding five to seven new ones once a year. In the long run, the shows might get stale, but I don't think so. As I kick off my new time slot, I'm still missing some 80 artists altogether. But this means that the variety can only increase from here, while the musical excellence shall remain constant.
Rest assured that from time to time, I'll take a break from the format to do request shows, using the full library of over 100,000 songs. Once I have the library to support it, I will also occasionally do shows highlighting the early influences of rock and roll. And I'm still on Saturday evenings from 8-11 pm Eastern with DJ Amethyst doing our "Mischief Management" show, though from this point on the music will be hers to program and I'll be providing more verbal shenanigans than anything else.
In closing, I would like to invite you to join me on Thursdays from 7-10 pm Eastern for "Roots of Rock" while we listen to those artists who have made a lasting contribution and impression on the history of rock and roll. They've made an impression on me, and I hope that you agree.
EDIT 12/16/2015: A note on song tags. I am in the process of vetting each song for explicit or objectionable language, comparing each song with lyrics posted from various sources on the Internet. This includes both profanity and slurs. I personally find the use of slurs, especially racial slurs, distasteful, and will be tagging songs containing them as [Explicit] just as I would be tagging a song with profanity. In addition, if the posted lyrics contain a profanity or slur, but my version of the song edits them out, I will tag the song as [Clean]. Finally, I know that some of you are not fond of live versions of songs (and some of you, like me, enjoy them), and so I will also be tagging these songs as [Live]. If a song is live, I will be vetting the entire recording for explicit content. My reasoning behind this is exemplified in the song "Invisible Touch" by Genesis: The studio version of the song is clean, but the live version recorded on "The Way We Walk" contains profanity. Songs will bear all applicable tags. This is an ongoing project and this post will be updated once it's complete. Any new music added to the library from this point forward will be vetted upon its addition.
_________________Roots of Rock: Thursdays 7-10 pm ET || Mischief Management (with DJ Amethyst): Saturdays 8-11 pm ET
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