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The Last DJ
February 17, 2012 11:04 AM   Subscribe

There goes the last DJ, who plays what he wants to play, and says what he wants to say - Long time fixture on Los Angeles radio, freeform disc jockey Jim Ladd surfaces once again on satellite radio after been unceremoniously booted off terrestrial radio. Ladd, the inspiration of Tom Petty's Last DJ album, is one of the few remaining DJs allowed choose what to play and not follow a playlist from a program manager. (via blogging.la)
posted by Argyle (57 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
*one of the few remaining DJs to not follow a playlist on commercial radio stations.
posted by helicomatic at 11:11 AM on February 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


...one of the few remaining DJs on commercial radio in the United States allowed choose what to play and not follow a playlist from a program manager.

A bit more specificity is in order here, I think.
posted by Floydd at 11:11 AM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:15 AM on February 17, 2012


Oh man...I have fond memories of his soothing voice preceding some Pink Floyd song.
posted by steinsaltz at 11:19 AM on February 17, 2012


From the "unceremoniously booted off" article:
More than simply a popular personality on the Southland radio scene, Ladd had developed last-man-standing status in his field, the only DJ at a major-market commercial radio station in the country who still picked the songs he played rather than using a preapproved playlist created by the station's program director or outside consultants.
Independent and college radio stations sound all the better now.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:21 AM on February 17, 2012


Just once, I'd like to see someone be fired ceremoniously. I bet the musical numbers would be really great.
posted by The World Famous at 11:23 AM on February 17, 2012 [19 favorites]


It is amazing to see an industry completely obliterate themselves, seemingly on purpose. Radio really does make the MPAA look like geniuses.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:27 AM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Radio Exec: "Doctor, I'm feeling weak and dizzy"
Consultant: "Well then, we'd better let some more blood!"
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:31 AM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Looks like he'll be on Deep Tracks weeknights for my commute home from work.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:33 AM on February 17, 2012


I think back to hearing Jim (and others like him) when I was a kid and it reminds me of just how much music that I discovered from listening to radio. It's ability to draw me in and still surprise or inform me in ways I hadn't expected.... Not sure how that would work now in other formats.

Time rolls on, and change the only constant, but alas, this makes me sad.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:37 AM on February 17, 2012


Corporate radio blows. Everybody knows it. Management doesn't care though, because it ain't about the music. Maybe it never was. But, even in my 50s, I have warm, heartfelt memories of the DJs who provided the fast and loose soundtrack of my life. DJs who could play whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

If you were in the DC area in the 70s, 80s and 90s, you'll know these names: Damien Einstein. Weasel. Cerphe. True music fans entertaining true music fans. RIP.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:41 AM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


"This announcement from the producers of this record contains important information for radio program directors, and is not for broadcast. The first cut on this record has been cross-format-focused for airplay success.

As you well know, a record must break on radio in order to actually provide a living for the artists involved. Up until now, you've had to make these record-breaking decisions on your own, relying only on perplexing intangibilities like taste and intuition.

But now, there's a better way.

The cut that follows is the product of newly-developed compositional techniques, based on state-of-the-art marketing analysis technology. This cut has been analytically designed to break on radio.

And it will, sooner or later.

For the station that breaks it first, the benefits are obvious. You lead the pack. Yes, no matter what share of this crazy market you do business in, no other release is going to satisfy your corporation's current idea of good radio like this one. On this cut, we're working together, on the same wavelength, in scientific harmony.

But remember, this cut is constructed for multi-market-breaking now. Don't waste valuable research with needless delay. We've done the hard work of insuring your success.

The final step is up to you."
- "Announcement", from Negativland's Escape From Noise
posted by davejay at 11:42 AM on February 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


for those unfamiliar, it is followed by track two, "Quiet Please", which is incredibly and intentionally terrible.
posted by davejay at 11:43 AM on February 17, 2012


What college radio stations should we, the erudite music-lovers of America, search out to find the exceptional free-form DJing that Mr. Ladd one provided to the masses?

(serious question: sorry if I write like a dick)
posted by Fister Roboto at 11:47 AM on February 17, 2012


But can he say "booger" on air?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:49 AM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


WCBN-FM, ANN ARBOR
WFMU
posted by spicynuts at 11:50 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I second WFMU , it tends to always have something interesting going on.
posted by remo at 11:55 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'all need to switch over to KCRW
posted by mmrtnt at 11:58 AM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just once, I'd like to see someone be fired ceremoniously.
Here you go
posted by Flunkie at 11:59 AM on February 17, 2012


WNRN in Virginia (and the internet) is a public but rock oriented radio station that's a blend of early 90s era alternative stations and college radio. They play mostly alt stuff but aren't afraid to play some popular music.

I also like KEXP.
posted by Candleman at 12:02 PM on February 17, 2012


It's not college radio, but KDHX is almost entirely supported by the St. Louis community. Each DJ generally has a music style he hews to, but they're given free reign to play whatever the fuck they want. E.g., the night we started bombing Iraq in 2003, the DJ (the show's called "sufragette city", and there's a lot of chick rawk) played Sun Ra's "Nuclear War is a Motherfucker".
posted by notsnot at 12:08 PM on February 17, 2012


Yep. Corporate/terrestrial radio sucks. Personally, I feel that Sirius/xm was better before the merger as well...

But I don't even bother to turn on the AM or FM in my truck anymore.
posted by bert2368 at 12:08 PM on February 17, 2012




Just once, I'd like to see someone be fired ceremoniously. I bet the musical numbers would be really great.



Hopefully this will do.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:10 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


> If you were in the DC area in the 70s, 80s and 90s, you'll know these names: Damien Einstein. Weasel. Cerphe. True music fans entertaining true music fans. RIP.

I don't know any of those names, but in the late '80's in Los Angeles, KROQ was the best commercial radio I had ever heard. I've not found any better, since.

Through miraculous coincidence, I happened to be recording the show on the day that program director and drivetime DJ Freddy Snakeskin discovered that he was being sued by the Mr. Ed Foundation for playing the Mr. Ed theme song on air without perimission.

On the tape, Freddy repeatedly bemoans the fact that he is being "sued by a dead horse", accompanied by neighing sounds.

Freddy - like most DJs on KROQ at the time - liked to play "drop-ins" during the program - between songs, during songs, during commercials, whenever.

Once, I was riding in a car with friends in an "altered state" and every so often bits of "Night of the Living Dead" would pop up between songs. Hearing tidbits like "You can only kill a zombie with a shot to the head" between the Cars and the Ramones was fantastically surreal.

And this wasn't a rare occurrence - listening to KROQ back then was almost always enjoyably surprising.

I gave up listening to commercial radio at least 20 years ago.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:16 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hopefully this will do.

Unbelievably awesome. But I give it only a B-, since they didn't end the song by shoving him into the street out in front of his office and then throwing a document box full of his personal effects at him.
posted by The World Famous at 12:17 PM on February 17, 2012


Don't be trampling on the Rights of Program Managers to Free Expression.
posted by Xoebe at 12:17 PM on February 17, 2012


Johnny
Sunshine
Caravella
Midnight
Duke
Style
Cool
Fever
posted by rocket88 at 12:19 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


What college radio stations should we, the erudite music-lovers of America, search out to find the exceptional free-form DJing that Mr. Ladd one provided to the masses?

I DJ a few times a month on KUMD (regularly scheduled every other Wednesday 5p-7p and fill in on other shows fairly often. 1st hour is local/regional music 2nd hour is a bit more free form, supposedly alt-country/Indie-rock but.. ah.. I veer around a fair bit and no one has complained yet. Pick all my own stuff.
posted by edgeways at 12:23 PM on February 17, 2012


"Oh man...I have fond memories of his soothing voice preceding some Pink Floyd song."

That would be from Radio K.A.O.S.. Not one of Roger's better solo albums, but the concert was a smash.
posted by Manjusri at 12:24 PM on February 17, 2012


"Boyfriend ceremoniously dumped," from The Onion.

(Warning, it fired up some video while I was reading the article.)
posted by jayder at 12:26 PM on February 17, 2012


No static at all.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:33 PM on February 17, 2012


Jim Ladd being allowed to pick his own music when no other DJ at his station was goes back to the 1980s, if not earlier. The stations he worked for considered him a 'break' from the regular format as much as the weekend Dr. Demento and 'All-Beatles' shows were...

I have semi-insider memories of KROQ during it's "ROQ of the 80s" period, but it's worth noting that as early as 1983, the DJs had one 'free-pick' per hour, usually the last song before the top-of-hour station ID, with Program Director and New Wave Format mastermind Rick Carroll pre-selecting everything else. A couple of them coordinated with Carroll for special musical features (Raechel Donahue did a daily 'quiz' using songs from the format as clues to a Mystery Person - it was from winning that contest a few times that I first snuck in), but the lattitude the DJs got was in what they were allowed to say and drop in (the Mister Ed theme being a good example). Sometimes they ended up 2-3 songs short of what they were supposed to play, but Carroll didn't seem to mind. As time went on, he did tighten up the playlist, putting certain songs in 'heavy rotation' like in Top 40 Radio and getting some DJs grumbling when they played the latest Duran Duran twice in a three-hour airshift, but the 'novelty' songs that were part of Carroll's playlists (like Soft Cell's "Sex Dwarf") and which the DJs got credit for made up for it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:34 PM on February 17, 2012


I also came in to mention KCRW. I <3 KCRW.
posted by flaterik at 12:36 PM on February 17, 2012


No static at all.
From the Steely Dan song "FM" which was the theme to the movie "FM" which was indeed based on personalities and occurances at KMET while Jim Ladd was there BUT did NOT include a 'Jim Ladd-ish' character, as I recall.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:38 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just once, I'd like to see someone be fired ceremoniously

National Lampoon Radio Hour covered Richard Nixon's Presidential Swearing Out Ceremony, officiated by 'Billy Graham':
Ghod damn you, Richard Nixon, you lying son of a. . . etc. Begone!
As you were.
 
posted by Herodios at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2012


"I feel that Sirius/xm was better before the merger as well..."

I still have XM in my car, but I have noticed the playlists are getting smaller and they are desperately trying to mimic commercial radio. Not to mention, the removal of Fungus (Punk Channel) in favor of an "action sports" music channel that mainly has the boorish Jason Ellis droning on about being the future of radio, than actual music. Still it is better than 99% of the void that is the Raleigh radio market; where WKNC and WUNC (NPR) the only local stations worth being programmed into my radio.
posted by remo at 12:42 PM on February 17, 2012


This sort of thing is creeping into little broadcasters, too. I was just told by my station manager that the words we can't play isn't just George Carlin's list (which i'm ok with), but also ass, butt, bitch, damn, hell, crap, and "anything else I have a question about", context be damned. They don't want to alienate the elderly donors, and don't realize they could have a lot more potential, younger donors if they played hipper music.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:46 PM on February 17, 2012


"Little bit of heaven, ninety-four point seven, K-M-E-T, do weedle ee"
posted by mmrtnt at 12:51 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I was involved in college radio in the 1970s, at KXLU at Loyola Marymount U. in L.A. The station had started out with a 6-hour daily schedule of Classical Music and a weekend Spanish-Language block, but grew into a 24-hour schedule with volunteer DJs doing whatever they wanted, evolving into a daytime 'More Progressive than KMET' semi-format, an evening Classical block and really free-form overnights. I ended up doing a "Dr. Demento Clone" show, because I had my own novelty and comedy records - but the PD insisted it air at the same time Sunday Night as Dr. D himself, which was what several college radio stations unwisely did. While I was there, one of the female DJs with a sexy radio voice got hired at KLOS (where she had no playlist control).

I've occasionally checked back since, and I'm amazed how little has changed in over 35 years... the Spanish Language show is still on Saturdays, the Classical block has shrunk to 4 hours 3 nights a week but is still there. And an early punk-rock-focused show that started soon after I graduated is still on every Friday night: "Stray Pop with Stella"... if that's the same Stella, three decades after she should've graduated - whew. (Of course, I know a MeFite who's still playing DJ at his college station almost a decade after he graduated...)
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:58 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yup, listen to the independants. I heart me some CKUA. There's nothing like tuning in to hear Baba playing whatever he wants. I swear he once played Little Richard's cover of "I feel pretty" at three in the afternoon.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 12:59 PM on February 17, 2012


"Little bit of heaven, ninety-four point seven, K-M-E-T, do weedle ee"

And don't forget to credit Shadoe Stevens for most of the creative IDs at both KMET and KROQ that lived on long after he left both stations to do the ubiquitous "Fred Rated for Frederated" TV commercials, play a wacky neighbor on "Dave's World" and be the big-voiced announcer for "The New Hollywood Squares" and, currently, "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" (NOT to be mistaken for the voice of the Robot Skeleton Sidekick which I was kinda surprised he DIDN'T end up doing)
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2012


WFPK is worth a listen. My car radio is stuck on the Verge but if ever I'm in someone else's car, that's where the tuner goes.
posted by BeReasonable at 1:22 PM on February 17, 2012


WBRU, KABE, WFLY, COOL 92.
posted by cazoo at 1:39 PM on February 17, 2012


I too would like to rep KEXP.
posted by ghani at 2:07 PM on February 17, 2012


In light of this news, I find myself thinking about WZRD-FM a lot, and the program director's guideline that "if you've ever heard it on the radio, you'd better not play it here."

someone once called me "the Wizard most likely to get a job in real radio."

it was not a compliment
posted by davejay at 2:14 PM on February 17, 2012


I still listen to KEXP, but it makes me sad how their music director, who was probably most responsible for their rise in the past years, was forced out.
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:15 PM on February 17, 2012


KCRW whooops (I listen to both stations and mix them up all the time)
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:15 PM on February 17, 2012


I'd be lying if I said I didn't much prefer Bentley on Morning Becomes Eclectic, but that still sucks. . . though, was he not given a chance to NOT do the other show? Weird situation.
posted by flaterik at 2:19 PM on February 17, 2012


Just once, I'd like to see someone be fired ceremoniously

From the wikipedia article on Julius La Rosa:

On the morning of October 19, 1953 (in a segment of the show broadcast on radio only), after La Rosa had finished singing "Manhattan" on Arthur Godfrey Time, Godfrey fired La Rosa on the air, announcing, "that was Julie's swan song with us."

(The reason I know this is that was one of my grandpa's favorite stories and he told it about fifty times where I could hear it.)
posted by bukvich at 2:32 PM on February 17, 2012


for those unfamiliar, it is followed by track two, "Quiet Please", which is incredibly and intentionally terrible.

What? That track is fucking awesome!
posted by mykescipark at 2:53 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to listen to KCRW all the time when I lived in LA-- they were the soundtrack of my college years. I have many fond memories of Jason Bentley when he helmed "Metropolis" and Garth Trinidad's "Chocolate City." Aw yeah.

Now in the Atlanta metro area, I listen to WRAS. They have a video game music hour! And a Broadway show tunes/soundtrack show! They're not as cool and slick as KCRW, but they're delightfully quirky in their own studenty low-rent music-loving kind of way.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 4:53 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


KFAI is VERY free form... and all the DJs pick their playlists. I've been a fan for ten years now, and I don't even live in the same state they broadcast in.
posted by inthe80s at 5:17 PM on February 17, 2012


Moving things north of the border ...

I've been associated for a few decades with a radio station called CITR which operates out of the University of British Columbia. Nobody gets paid to broadcast but the quality of programming is at times quite stellar, and certainly one hundred percent DJ driven. Pretty much every show gets posted as a podcast. They're all accessible via this page.
posted by philip-random at 10:23 PM on February 17, 2012


WYEP in Pittsburgh is a non-commercial music station that's not totally DJ programmed but manages to have a pretty good mix of music, especially in the evening.
posted by octothorpe at 9:13 AM on February 18, 2012


Yep, oneswellfoop, that's the same Stella!
posted by Scram at 7:40 PM on February 18, 2012


I'd be lying if I said I didn't much prefer Bentley on Morning Becomes Eclectic...

What? It's embarrassing to hear him do some of those interviews. You can tell he's never heard of the band before and is reading off some sheet handed to him five minutes earlier. I'm going to pretend you meant Nic Harcourt.
posted by euphorb at 12:01 AM on February 20, 2012


there's more to the show than the band appearances, and harcourt would frequently get too eclectic for my morning taste.
posted by flaterik at 1:52 PM on February 20, 2012


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