Requiem For A Radio Rarity

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Alice 102, the Kansas City station with the Moniker “It’s All About The Music” is gone as of today, and I couldn’t be more disappointed.  In listening to the new station this morning, it really doesn’t seem to be very different.  In fact, from what I can tell, it could even be a station that – through flipping – I might even rest upon for a time, from time to time.  What I think will be most missed, by myself in particular, is the fact that the station will no longer play local music.

The story begins with my band Alice Sweet Alice and Alice 102, back in 2011.  I was in the process of being a pain in the ass to radio stations, something I’m pretty good at with many marketing outlets for music, and of course – getting nowhere. My thoughts behind the process is this: “I have nothing to lose”.  The likelihood of getting on commercial radio, for most independent artists, is remote to none —  so, it’s almost a sick perversion of mine to try and (hopefully) at least get wheels spinning down at these conglomerates.  Pissing people off down at these places is not the intent, but becomes half the fun.

One KC station in particular (who shall remain nameless because it isn’t really important), had a Program Director with an especially exceptional and snotty excuse for not playing Alice Sweet Alice.  “(This station) cannot play a band with a name that is similar to a competitor in the market.  Why don’t you try them?”  This was obviously a reference to Alice 102, a station that I really knew nothing about, in fact, I hadn’t even heard of it, as it was still relatively new (especially to me) at the time.

Being the exceptionally stubborn person I am, I said out loud “well, OK, I will then (expletive)”, and proceeded to draft an email to the general email box of Alice 102, briefly stating my usual spiel and the comments of their competitor.

Amazingly, I got a very simple and curt response from Thom McGinty, one of the DJ’s running the station.  “Sure, I’ll take a listen”.  This totally floored me, and so I sent him one of Alice Sweet Alice’s recordings (I forget which now), and to make a long story short, through our conversations – telling me about Alice 102’s intent to start up a local music program at the station, and that Alice Sweet Alice would be the premier band on this program – well, to say that I was hopeful, is a complete understatement.  Thom also asked me about other local bands and I immediately thought of my friend and associate Paul Chandler, who heretofore had been running a great internet station dedicated to local music called “Kansas City Local Artists” (a station still running by the way).  I told Thom about Paul, and eventually Paul started working down at Alice 102 and again – to make a long story short – the local program began by playing Alice Sweet Alice’s “Full Circle” that very first broadcast of “Local Edition”, which aired EVERY weeknight at 6:00PM.  Incredible for a commercial station to do that for local artists!

For the two consecutive years following the start of this program, Alice 102 had Alice Sweet Alice play on their St. Patrick’s Day float as well, an incredible honor and testament to the integrity and benevolence of Mr. McGinty who, through our earliest conversations, mentioned that Alice Sweet Alice would become one of the “favorite bands” of the station.

I am the stepson of a career disc jockey based in the San Francisco bay area (where I grew up), by the name of Don Potter, and experienced his ups and downs with the commercial radio world.  I have seen it change from the days where DJ’s just about had free reign to play what they wanted, to the days of corporate ownership and very limited control.  This is the main reason why I was so amazed at what Alice 102 was doing here in the local Kansas City market.  It just DOESN’T happen in this day and age, and the service that Alice 102 did for – NOT ONLY local musicians – but for Kansas City residents was simply awesome.  I mention Kansas City residents, because, as consumers of music – local people love to hear bands from their local market.  It is increasingly difficult to get people to leave the comforts of their homes and smartphones these days with the proliferation of “instant gratification” in the form of digital media (music videos, instant album downloads, etc.), so to have such a wonderful outlet for local bands to connect with locals was just an incredible resource and service for a station to offer.

I want to state firmly here that I know, being the stepson of a radio professional, that I KNOW this new development isn’t the fault of the employees of the station.  In fact, I have nothing but gratitude, respect, and love for Thom McGinty, Paul Chandler and everyone else who worked so diligently, selflessly, and generously for local music.  I am deeply honored to have been part of this brief and rare development for local music, especially since my band was part of the catalyst for the development, and in some offhanded way — partly responsible for helping put the program together by my matchmaking (mentioned to me by Mr. Chandler on many occasions.)

So life moves on, and I will miss that particular opportunity here at home and I guess I’m just venting.  I’m not angry or mad at anyone, but simply disappointed. 

I sincerely wish the best for the new station “KC 102” and all of the employees working there.  I hope this move becomes a successful one for not only the station, but for the employees – creating excellent job security and perhaps even some great local events and opportunities for listeners and all Kansas City locals.  Who knows?  Maybe in future there will be something for local bands? 

All I know is this, sometimes being a pain in the ass pays off, and I firmly believe in “Power Of The People”.  Despite the opinions of those that sort of know me, I’m an incurable optimist (hence my statement above).  If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t get up every day and send annoying messages to people in hopes of getting traction in the world.  So my “optimistic” hope is this:  maybe if enough people make their opinions heard about the matter of local music on local commercial stations — change may occur.  Until then – local Kansas City musicians have the benefit of support from 90.1 KKFI – by no means a “secondary” or “backup” resource, but just a member-owned station with more freedom (and a powerful 100K Watt transmitter).  Of course, internet radio is another invaluable resource for small bands and musicians like me.

So, R.I.P. Alice 102.  A sincere THANK YOU for everything.  I really mean that.  But, I won’t let the door hit me on the way out. There are a few more fish to fry.

Scott Martinez

ALICE SWEET ALICE

http://www.alicesweetalice.com

 

 

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