Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Station Music Expert

OK - I need to get a life.

Wide awake - while still in bed this morning - I was trying to think of those few classic rock stations that have taken music credibility to a higher level by having an on-air music expert.

This is someone far above the typical on-air talent's knowledge of all things classic rock. I'm talking about the expert who can talk about the history of rock, album rock, even top 40 - on a national basis - but more even more important - about their own local market or region.

I came up with three stations and four names real quick: Bob Stroud at WDRV/Chicago; Dan Hansen and Steve Palec at WKLH/Milwaukee; and Gary Crow at KZOK/Seattle.

All these guys tie in the music heritage of their respective markets so well. On WDRV, Bob Stroud does it during the course of his normal shift (including playing one 45rpm single each day, scratches and all, at 1:45pm; and on Sunday Morning 7 to 10am he hosts "Rock and Roll Roots" - which really goes in depth with the music and stories behind the artists and bands from Chicago and the Midwest. My biggest frustration is that due to RIAA streaming issues (save that for another rant), the show isn't often heard on the internet; I've got to save that for my trips to the Windy City.

On Milwaukee's WKLH,
"Downstairs" Dan Hansen is on the air daily; part of his shift includes a 'ZMF flashback. WZMF was one of Milwaukee's legendary AOR outlets back in the 70s - even though it was only 3kw from suburban Menomonee Falls. Dan worked there. Cool and very smart to acknowledge 'ZMF. Also at WKLH, Milwaukee radio vet Steve Palec has his "Rock and Roll Roots" Sunday Mornings 9 to noon. Having listened to this program you've got to admire the amount of prep time that goes into producing it each week.

Up in the Pacific Northwest on KZOK, Gary Crow is that station's music expert. Does afternoon drive - plus "The Psychedelic 60s" on Saturday Morning. Gary is a rock trivia junkie and has established himself - and KZOK - as the classic rock experts in Seattle.

One person like this on your airstaff helps can help reinforce a strong music image; can provide a "heritage" position even if the station is new, integrates the station into the local market; and provides another difficult-to-duplicate attribute against a competitor. It adds to the station's feeling of community as another emotional bond with its audience. There's website potential here too ("ask the professor"). It makes the station part of the city.

I wouldn't try it without the right hire. It can't be faked.

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