What Was The Greatest Year In Music?


There’s a certain kind of music fan that seems to enjoy arguing about  music, almost as much as listening to it. Categories can be broad an all-encompassing  — Top 10 Songs Ever, Desert Island Discs, Most Important Artists, or the topics can by specific — Best Songs About Food, Greatest Quincy Jones Productions, Ten Best Beatles Songs, but in almost every case, the conversations are ardent.

HighFidelity Jack Black crop

Both WXPN in Philadelphia and Slacker Radio are filled with people like this — passionate music obsessives who like a good dialogue, and love   contextualizing music. They don’t just hear melodies and lyrics, they experience the political, social and pop culture matrix of the song’s era.

So, when Bruce Warren, music obsessive and programming lead for WXPN, mentioned to me that they were planning a special month around the Greatest Year In Music History, we got very excited.


Surely there had to be one year that towered over the rest. How could there be a better year for music than 1967, the “summer of love”, and its soundtrack of Sgt Pepper, Good Vibrations, and Aretha Franklin’s Respect?  Well, tell that to a jazz head who counts 1959 as the year that Brubeck’s Take Five, Mingus’s Ah Um, and perhaps the greatest jazz album ever, Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue were released. And what about 1984 with pop royalty like Prince, Madonna, and Michael Jackson all releasing argubably their greatest albums, while The Replacements, Husker Du and a slew of American college radio heroes reinvented the underground in response?

miles davis kob

What was the greatest year in music history?  On second look, this was a really tough question to answer. Music is so personal, and so hard to pin down. Still, the question itself seemed like a perfect fit for a quick partnership between WXPN, Slacker, and our respective audiences. Could we collectively try to answer what is perhaps an impossible, or at least impossibly subjective question?

Replacements Let It Be

We are enormous fans of WXPN and their take on radio — hand-crafted, intelligent, with a distinctive editorial voice. Their hosts are knowledgable and relatable, and they know their music history backwards and forwards. Slacker, in turn, has a passionately engaged audience, some pretty impressive musicologists of our own, and a technology platform perfect for skipping from year to year as you listen and decide.

So, with a couple of quick phone calls, and a spirited conversation or two about what years to include, the WXPN on Slacker partnership regarding The Greatest Year In Music was born.

We invite you to listen on both Slacker and WXPN.org, and join in by voting for your favorite years here.

Let the rumpus begin.

Van Morrison: Treasure … No Longer Buried.



I am, or at least try to be, a Van Morrison fan. Van is a notoriously “difficult” character — known for an ornery persona with labels, promoters, the press and fans alike. I have no problem with any of that. In fact, truth be told, I sort of like his wariness and mistrust of celebrity and of the music industry. And I’m certainly more than OK with the idea of loving the art, not the artist.

So, it wasn’t Van’s personality that made it tough to be a fan. Instead, it was simply the fact that his catalogue was a mess. The back-catalogue had fallen into incredible disrepair. For the last 15 years or so, a good portion of Van’s music was out of print on CD, and absent from streaming services like Spotify and Slacker. You literally could not listen to pristine versions of life-changing albums like St. Dominics Preview or Into The Music without breaking the law or breaking your bank account.

st doms

So, I approached the news that Sony was cleaning up and readying the Van Morrison catalogue with realistic expectations. Van Morrison was a self-professed music industry hater, grappling with a digital era that he certainly couldn’t feel much natural affinity with.

Listen to how many times Van reminds the Time Magazine interviewer here that he is “not a download artist”.

Yet, here we are. Sony has done a nice job, under no doubt difficult circumstances. The new Essentials CD is well curated, combining tracks from Them, the Warner titles, and Sony’s newly licensed stockpile into a worthwhile overview.

van essentials

More importantly, they have at least plugged the gaping digital hole that was Van Morrison’s streaming catalogue. 3 of the 4 Warner albums and these 33 Sony titles are now available for streaming. For depth of emotion, commitment to chasing the muse, and pure musical delight these albums represent a catalogue of music that rivals any solo artist in the history of rock.

Van creates a unique musical mix of R&B, Rock and Roll, Celtic folk, Soul, New Orleans blues and jazz, all while he searches for transcendence. It is art of the highest order.  It is the only music I know that sounds simultaneously completely spontaneous, and yet inevitable. And its all so intimate, so personal, as to make almost every other artist sound artificial.

Griel Marcus breaks this down:

People take Van Morrison personally. Incidents from his music enter the events of their lives – events in their love lives, their family lives, births and especially deaths – and people feel as if he put those incidents in their lives. As if, in some way, he’s there. Not in any magical sense – just in the manner in which art is supposed to work: it touches you. And won’t let go. People have always talked about the certainty they had that when Elvis Presley sang – on record, especially in person, but even on television – he was singing directly to them. This is different. It’s a feeling people get that Morrison has already lived the events that they’re living out or have lived out – or haven’t yet lived out, but may – that he’s been there first, and put those events into songs, into music, into an emotional form that can be transferred into a thing, a record, an LP or a CD or a download on a computer or an iPod, something you can physically refer to, that produces an apprehension of the real, the tangible. In other words, not he’s singing to you; in a certain sense, he has lived your life for you.

Listen to Van Morrison on Slacker here.

On Bruce Lundvall


I only spent time with Bruce once, but it was special and made a gigantic impression. We connected at an Al Green AOL Session he attended as chairman of Blue Note. As we watched Al sing his heart out in a small studio, I thanked Bruce earnestly for allowing us to attend and capture something so magical. He spent the next 15 minutes sincerely thanking us for our efforts, and talking with absolute humility about he had never seen Al sing in such an intimate setting, and how appreciative he was of our efforts in “letting” him (Bruce) have such a incredible musical experience. It was easily one of my best days on the planet. RIP.

Slacker. Bringing Music Curation Back.


When I was a kid, pre-Internet, I had a love/hate relationship with the radio.

I grew up in New York, and in my teens WNEW-FM was my constant companion. WNEW positioned itself as the station “Where Rock Lives.” Every song seemed perfectly picked, placed, and contextualized — it was music curation at its finest. Listening as a twelve-to-thirteen-year-old, I discovered tons of new music, or at least artists who were new to me. Rock really did seem to live on that station. Its DJs were true hosts. I clung to every word that Jonathan Schwartz, Vin Scelsa, and Scott Muni uttered. After all, in a time before message boards or social media, these people were my friend – intimate friends who turned me on to Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, and Bob Dylan.

But after a while, I became frustrated with WNEW-FM. I had discovered a whole new world–punk rock –and WNEW wasn’t playing very much of it. I heard an occasional Ramones song, but where were the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Jam, and Wire? WNEW was too busy playing Foreigner, Styx, and Journey. Yuck, yuck, and yuck. (Ironically, I now have a custom-made Slacker station called The Bands I Hated in High School Kinda Sound Good to Me Now–but I’m getting ahead of myself here.)

Eventually I broke up with WNEW. The station had betrayed me. There was just so much Foreigner I could take. It certainly was no longer the place where my rock lived. I abandoned WNEW, and I abandoned the radio.

Years later, Napster came onto the scene, and music listening changed forever. All the world’s music accessible with a click of a mouse. I loved Napster at first but soon grew uncomfortable with both its bad song results and its lack of artist support.

Through the 2000s I drifted from service to service online. Rhapsody, Imeem, Lala, iTunes, eMusic…I tried them all. But somehow, despite the cool music platform that the web had become, something was missing. Some days it was enough and I found treasures, but most days it felt a bit cold, clinical. Listening to music on these services was mostly clean and efficient, but it wasn’t all that entertaining, and it certainly wasn’t magical. These were algorithms and applications…not good friends crafting music experiences. The human element was missing.

For the first time in years, I found myself missing the old WNEW-FM.

Then, in 2011, I found Slacker.

Slacker would have seemed like an impossible dream to the eighteen-year-old me. It worked everywhere. On my computer, on my phone, in my car. Best of all is the curation. At Slacker, I have more than 200 pre-programmed stations to choose from. Sure, there are the expected genre stations — Today’s Hits, New Hip Hop, Country, and an excellent slate of Alternative stations. But Slacker also digs really deep with Eclectic Rock, Great Songs You Forgot, Old School R&B, and Grunge: 20 Years Later. These are thematic stations that terrestrial radio could never dream of.

With Slacker, I can access the biggest hits, or reinvent the concept of formats, on a daily basis. Only people who live and breathe music every day could come up with stations like Dive Bar Jukebox, Broken Heart Radio, or The 50 Most Embarrassing Facebook Songs. No algorithm in the world can put a music mix together like these stations.

With Slacker, I am able to follow hosts like Mat Bates and Scott Riggs, whose expert curation routinely blows me away.

I love Scott’s Indie Hits mix and I find Mat’s New Music First stations invaluable. I really couldn’t live without The New 40, the Slacker station that plays the best 40 songs regardless of genre, each and every week.

Yet as good at turning me on to music as Mat and Scott are, I love being able to overrule them, to have more power than the DJ, to take a good station and make it better. I can fine-tune any station by tweaking the music mix based on related artists, song popularity, and song age. Fine-tune is an extremely cool feature. I can add sports from ESPN, news from ABC, and talk from American Public Media.

At Slacker, I have total control of a music library of more than 13 million songs. I can lean in and make custom playlists. I can lean back by simply typing a band or song name into the Search box and just let the music play. For a guy who spent days as a kid making mixed tapes, this seems unbelievably fast, efficient, and wondrous.

Most important, at Slacker I feel like the human spirit of the old WNEW FM lives, but within a new technological construct. Experts like Scott & Mat make superb stations – they are bringing music curation back. The technology platform makes everything easier, better, more customizable.

So go ahead, poke around, play a station, or enter a song. It’s up to you — with Slacker, all you have to do is listen up.

Sacred Songs and Places: Inspired by George Harrison…

Martin Scorcerse’s new documentary, George Harrison: Living In A Material World, is filled to the brim with sacred places.

The Beatles rise is so well known, that most Rock fans over thirty probably can recite the stops by heart. The Cavern Club, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, St. Peter’s Church, Twickenham Film Studios, India, Blue Jay Way, and of course, Abbey Road.

For a Beatles fan, Scorcerse’s biopic adds one more sacred location to the roadmap – Friar Park.

The documentary suggests that George’s most sacred place was his Friar Park home, which he purchased in 1970. George devotedly tended to his home and its gardens,while also recording and filming there. It is depicted lovingly on the front cover of his first proper solo album, All Things Must Pass, and mythologized in his video “Crackerbox Palace”.

All these images got me to thinking about my own musical sacred places:

1970: Record department at E.J. Korvettes department store, Brooklyn New York.  I made my grandma take me here to buy Beatles records. First 45’s, then albums.

1971-1977: Lebiush Lehrer auditorium Camp Boiberik, Rhinebeck New York. Camp musicals, Friday night services and Gene Lewin & David Vogel “jamming” on Jumping Jack Flash. Yes, Gene and David played that song for six years straight.

1975-1978:  Greenwich Village, NYC. Under the arches of Washington Square Park to be more specific. Walked through the snow on Bleeker street, and made believe I was Dylan on the cover of Freewheeling Bob Dylan.

1975-1979:  Madison Square Garden: Floor Seats for Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, No Nukes, and many more. Don’t fight it; there is nothing as powerful as a arena or stadium-sized sing-a-long.

1975-1979:  Disc-O-Mat record store on 59th street and Lexington Avenue. $4.99 an album. Great stock, great vibe. It was Tower Records before Tower came east.

1979-1982: Club 57, Tier 3, and the Mudd Club.  Trust me, “Dead Rock Star Night” was the PG rated version. Downtown Club Culture and all that it entailed.

1980-1981: 99 Records at 99 MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village. I actually managed to spend $20 there for an import version of London Calling on New Years Day.  You really had to work to spend that kind of money on an album in 1980.

1979-1982: On-Air studio and record library, WCDB –Albany. Today (10/11/11) is College Radio Day. Remember, If Al Gore really had invented the internet, he would have run a fanzine and programmed a College Radio speciality show in the early 80’s.

1980-1982: JB Scott’s Rock Club, Central Avenue Albany New York: Everybody played JB Scott’s, as Albany routed well with New York and Boston. U2, The Specials, The Jam, Lene Lovich, David Johansen, plus many many more. (Honorable mention should go to The Chateau Lounge, site of R.E.M.’s legendary 11/23/1982 performance)

1983-1987: Maxwell’s, 1039 Washington Street, Hoboken New Jersey. The Bongos, DB’s, Raybeats, The Feelies, Sonic Youth, Husker Du, and a host of others on-stage. Steve Fallon, Glenn Morrow and Peter Buck at the bar.

1983-1987: The Ritz, 11th Street NYC. The Replacements walk on-stage and ask for Boos. Par for the course. On the great shows, it always felt like that balcony would collapse.

1990: The Melody Ballroom: Portland Oregon, & The Off-Ramp in Seattle Washington. Watching the crowd of teenagers stream out of the Melody after Nirvana’s opening set …with flannel shirts wrapped around their waists, they looked like Children Of The Corn. Watching the Best Kissers In the World bicker on-stage at the Off Ramp. Good times.

1991: First Lollapalooza date in Compton Terrace Arizona. Rollins Band, Butthole Surfers, Ice-T, Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Jane’s Addiction. Who knew?

1997: El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles. As the poster said, Bob Dylan and his band! Tiny room, massive legend. Dylan’s last truly great run?

2000-2001: Howard Blumenthal’s office, Media department CDNOW, Ft. Washington Pennsylvania. Late nights and a too early business model — rich media created before broadband was ready.

2003-2007:  Sessions at AOL. Sigma Sound, Sony Studios, and a few more. AOL Music. Sessions with Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Al Green, Kelly Clarkson, 50 Cent, NAS, David Gilmour, Green Day and many more.

2005: Live 8 Concert, Outside of the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia. Hello world, this is live music on the internet.

2007: Smoke Jazz & Supper Club, 2751 Broadway NYC. Jeremy Pelt, Bernard Purdie, Eric Alexander. Quintessential New York City jazz club within spitting distance of Columbia University. It is always happening at Smoke.

2007-2010: Artist Lounge, Warner Bros. Records, Burbank California. Randy Newman, Tom Petty, R.E.M, Jack White  all stop by and ask us to listen to their new albums. Uh, “yes”.

2010-2011: Largo At The Coronet, La Cienga Avenue Los Angeles. A few hundred seats and incredible performances from Loudon Wainwright, Fiona Apple, Rikki Lee Jones, Randy Newman, Aimee Mann and the like. Inside the venue, it’s all about the music — no cell phones, clanking drink glasses, and idle chatter.  Yet, the vibe is always warm, loose, and all about the music.

These places are sacred to me.

What are your musical sacred places?

Frank's Living Room and The Birth Of Hipster Divebar Jukebox

I thought I knew drinking, and I thought I knew about music, but truth be told — I knew next to nothing. My idea of drinking was a 17 year olds technique of dumping out a third of a quart of Tropicana orange juice and replacing it with cheap vodka. Musically, I was up on the latest New Wave and Punk, but I wouldn’t know a George Jones tearjerker or a vintage STAX side if it sat down next to me on a rickety Frank’s Living Room stool, and bought me a snakebite.

After my first couple of visits, I was pretty sure his name was Leo, not Frank. Leo poured with a heavy hand. I remembered that he sighed and smiled when we called him Frank, serving us another round of Vodkas and Grapefruits, while flipping over a mixed tape. The tapes were Leo’s. He played them loud. Ear-shatteringly loud:

Nervous Breakdown

Get Off My Cloud

The Grand Tour

Holiday in Cambodia

September Gurls

After The Fire Is Gone

Lust For Life

Johnny Hit and Run Pauline (Leo had a thing for X)

Gardening At Night

American Music

Cry Like A Baby

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

Mamma Tried

I’ll Take You There

Rise Above

Color Me Impressed

Time of The Season

Pale Blue Eyes

Sex Bomb

One For My Baby

Like I mentioned, at first we thought he was “Frank”. After all, he lorded over the place — Frank’s Living Room — a majestically squalid, 500 square foot, literally underground bar in the greyest city on earth — Albany NY.

Leo was my personal John Peel. Although he was probably barely 30, Leo was my elder statesman. He taught me about life, love and loss all through the power of a perfectly sequenced mixed tape. Leo trafficked in classic Country, Rockabilly, Soul, Garage Rock, and the most cutting edge, and hardest new Punk and New Wave.

Without knowing it, Leo changed our take on music.
All genres mixed together.
All eras counted.
As long as it was pure, it was on the Frank’s Living Room list.

Leo created the model for Hipster Dive Bar Jukebox.
This station is for the Leo in us all.


Classic Country. Vintage Soul. Select Punk, New Wave & Indie:

Hipster Divebar Jukebox: http://bit.ly/qalK1m


R.E.M. Breaks Up: Glad & Sorry

After 31 years together as a band, R.E.M announced their breakup today.

Michael Stipe:

A wise man once said–‘the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it.
I hope our fans realize this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way.
We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It’s been amazing.

From my seat, R.E.M is arguably the most important band in the history of Alternative Rock. Part of their importance was certainly the high quality and innovative nature of their music. Their first 4 albums are nothing short of a revelation.

But equally important  was R.E.M’s commitment to community, communication and a sense of shared purpose with their fans.

If you talk to anyone who played a part in the College Radio Era of 1977-1983, they will regail you with tales of fanzines, weak college radio signals, dirty clubs, couch surfing, kids as promoters and inevitably, — transcendent R.E.M. shows that brought a community together.

R.E.M hardly invented alternative rock. Other innovators and brilliant artists shaped the scene before, during and after R.E.M.’s heyday.

But if you were lucky enough to engage with them in their prime, R.E.M. certainly changed music, and being a music fan, for the better.

I’m glad to have known them and played a tiny role in their legacy, and I’m sorry to see them go.

Not Blogging Lately — Blame The Fonz, Timmy von Trimble, Thelonious & The NY Times.


I have been slacking off from blogging. Time flies by. Here are 11 things I have been doing instead:

11- Understanding & Pricing Out The Cloud: If you are like me, and flit around from site to site streaming and buying — I’ll easily hit iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, RDIO & Rhapsody in a week — then the various cloud-music propositions presented lately will make your head spin. Keeping track of which one is $20 a year for 15GB’s, which one is $25 for a year for 20GB’s, which one rewards you for shopping at their store, which one matches and duplicates your existing content, etc. — is a crazy jumble. Heck, the Amazon, Google, iTunes options alone make the NY Times pay-wall rules seem positively simple. Jon Pareles from the NY Times on The Cloud That Ate Your Music here.

10- Testing Cloud Music Offerings: Wow. Has setting up something geared for convenience , ever been so inconvenient?! I tried Amazon (glacially slow), Google (makes Amazon look nimble) and what iTunes has to offer so far (you try finding the correct preference prompts to set up an iPad, iPod, iTouch & MacBookAir) — it takes the patience of Job to even experiment with the existing library options.

9- Obsessively Listening To A Reclusive Artistic Genius Who Locks Himself Away At Home: If I told you that I was listening non-stop to a morose, funny, poignant, cutting singer-songwriter who refuses to record with a band, make videos or tour — I’m sure you would say “Really, Paul Westerberg again Jack”. Well not this time, mister. FM Coronog is an incredible singer-songwriter, who in between his 9-5 slog at Home Depot, somehow manages to home-record a brilliant album every few years under the moniker of East River Pipe. Check out his page on Merge Records here, and an unofficial, naturally, YouTube clip below.

8- Thelonious Monk: Universal just put out the complete Riverside collection. 16 CD’s for $80 at Amazon. Redundancies and all, it’s just too much to resist. Details here.

7- Fighting with Anthem Blue Cross: Just how incompetent, obstructive and systematically infruriating is our health care system? Ladies and gentleman I submit to you, from the California Watch website – Anthem Blue Cross:

In its own way, Anthem Blue Cross became the Toyota of the news cycle yesterday. The company was credited with reinvigorating the health reform drive, stood accused of violating California law hundreds of times and was found to exhibit a prolific pattern of profit taking.
It was also linked to a denied liver transplant and a plan motivated by its famous 39 percent rate hike that, well, might not work….The Los Angeles Times reported that state insurance commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner accused the company of violating state law 700 times between 2006 and 2009.

I have spent countless hours on hold with Anthem, back-tracking through paperwork, and generally fighting for my families money. Yet I understand, interrupting my blogging is the least of Anthem’s moral offenses.

6- Driving: I live in (East) Los Angeles, work in San Diego, and have friends and business contacts clustered all across the west side of L.A. Have you ever tried to get to Venice Beach from Pasadena after 2pm on a weekday?

5- Turntable FM: If you are over 30, you no doubt remember gathering at a friends house and playing each other music. Chances are the M.O. was a variation on “OK, suckers…can you top THIS?” Turntable FM recreates this by layering a Social Media blanket over a full song streaming interface. God, that sounds like tech-speak gobbley gook. How about – Turntable FM allows you to go online, play songs for your friends, and is crazily addictive fun. They may or may not have a prayer of a business model, but you should check the site out now here.

4- Thinking about the New York Times: Last weekend I thought I could get some blogging in, but on Friday night I went to see Page One, the new movie about the NY Times. The movie covers a lot of territory – Wikileaks, the run up to the Iraq war, the recession, etc. — all unified by the Times’ struggle for economic stability in the age of the internet. It’s a great movie. My excitement about the film, lead to buying the book Hard News, which covers the history of the times through the prisim of the Jason Blair scandal, and reading the book took up much of Saturday. Next thing I knew it was Sunday, which, naturally, means it was time for the Sunday Times…


3- The NY Times iPad App: Back in March, I wrote about the NY Times pay-wall strategy, and theorized that the approach was just too convoluted and expensive to be successful. Now, after experiencing the total brilliance of reading the NY Times daily on my iPad, I am happy to have my Fonzie moment…


The digital version of the NY Times, with it’s elegant interface, and superb use of interactive elements like photo galleries, is spectacularly good. I find myself gladly paying for the full subscription, and consuming more content in both print and digital form during the course of a normal week. You can read more about how wrong I was here.

2- WFMU’s The Best Show hosted by Tom Scharpling : I came to this show late. It is tough to explain how a program this meandering, could also be this good. The best I can tell you is that if you could imagine a parallel universe where Howard Stern was 15 years younger, magnitudes hipper, and deeply immersed in indie-rock you would start to paint a picture. Add in recurring guests like John Hodgman, Patton Oswalt and Paul F. Tompkins, and a host of faux callers such as “Philly Boy Roy” (an unflinching supporter of all things Philadelphia), “Timmy von Trimble” (a genetically modified, two-inch-tall racist), and “The Gorch” (a senior citizen from York, Pennsylvania, who claims that the character of The Fonz on the TV show Happy Days was based on him) and you start to get the picture. The fact that all these callers are voiced by Superchunk drummer Jon Wuster just adds to the appeal.

Try the Music Scholar call,  here.

1- Working at Slacker Radio: Between the natural arc of learning the intricacies of a new business, and diving into the complexities of music label licensing from the other side, working at Slacker is a time-consuming affair. I consider myself shockingly lucky to be enjoying it as much as I am so far, and can’t wait for everyone to see the things we are working on for the rest of this year. Today’s AOL/Slacker announcement is just the tip of the iceberg, read about that here.

So there you have it. My Spring of non-blogging, cataloged and perhaps a bit rationalized.

Blame the Fonz, Timmy von Trimble, Thelonious Monk, the Times, and gainful employment.

If I can tear myself away from these obsessions, then I’ll talk to you soon.

Every Word Means No — Ultimate College Rock Video

In honor of the recently announced return of MTV’s 120 Minutes, I thought a flashback was in order.

What better than “Every Word Means No” from Let’s Active — the ultimate 80’s College Rock video?:

DMI Tip: Why is this the ultimate “80’s College Rock video” — I’m glad you asked:

1- This is Mitch Easter’s band. Mitch of course produced R.EM.’s Murmur, aka as the definitive College Rock album of the 80’s.

2- The band, Let’s Active, is simultaneously under-appreciated and legendary.

3-  The ‘dancing in place” two-step move that bassist Faye Hunter employed is textbook. Belinda Carlisle took this move mainstream in the video for Our Lips Are Sealed”.

4-  The college-rock pogo is also in full affect. Note, this is a slower and gentler pogo than the 1976-1978 British Punk version.

5- The fuzzy sweater vests. This look certainly swept College Radio programming offices throughout the early 80’s. Kurt Cobain took it to a whole other level when he went full-fledged Cardigan in the early 90’s.

6-The eye-makeup. Many folks think Pete Wentz took “guy-liner” straight from the 70’s Metal and Glam acts;  but College Rock certainly had its eye makeup run too. Pun intended.

7-Big hair. Big guitars. Small drum kits.

8- It sends signals of innocence and prolonged adolescence. Note the puppies.

9-The song, “Every Word Means No” put the J in Jangle.

10 – Let’s Active and ‘Every Word Means No” remains to this day, completely obscure. A College Rock necessity.

This Is a Content War — BLT vs. Toast.


Who said these five things?:

1-A station van. Cool in ’71 when hippies carried their pot and guitars in vans… now a soccer mom symbol that defines not cool, drives a van.

2-Radio is on innovation autopilot at a time when, to prosper in the Google/Apple era you need to innovate DAILY. American media is getting beaten by the Phone and Cable companies in terms of innovation.

3-If the excitement in radio is all about the deals, where does that leave the listener who could care less about who owns who. Death by deal is a real possibility as media’s eye is SO far off the content ball, that we simply can’t compete in the Google/Apple era.

4-(Here’s a history of) THE STARS OF RADIO:
50′s- Deejays
60′s- PD’s
70′s- Consultants
80′s- Researchers
90′s- Group Heads
00′s- Bankers

5-We are at the most dramatic crossroad in Media History ….(the) denial and arrogance is frightening. It’s NOT OK…it’s war. You gotta pull out the weapons, kill the denial and start creating content that’ll win on 21st Century terms. The denial and arrogance is deafening. It’s worse in Radio/TV than newspapers where they still think it’s 1935.

If you guessed that it was one of our Silicon Valley digerati brethren, parked safely inside of a VC venture … you would be wrong.

If you guessed it was an anoymous Pandora exec, or one of my new friends at Slacker Radio … you would be wrong.

If you guessed that it might have been the insightful radio consultant Mark Ramsey … now you would be getting warm. Quite warm.

No, Mark didn’t say these five things. Lee Abrams did. But Mark captured them on his blog yesterday, in a brilliant post detailing a recent roundtable he chaired that included Abrams.

Lee Abrams is a legendary, often controversial, terrestrial radio and media consultant. He, arguably, invented the AOR/Album Radio format. Likewise — Z Rock, Radio Disney and the original programming roadmap of XM Radio all were driven by his vision. Most recently he worked for Tribune in the newspaper buusiness, as their chief innovation officer.  You can do your own search and dig deeper into his history.

For now, though, I urge you to read Lee’s “We Are In A Content War” manifesto on Mark’s blog.

You can read the full piece here.

The Final Take: Lee’s comments are as applicable for new media as old media. Deals, data, and technology are all vital; but as Lee says, this is a content war. Content, to my mind, is now the full experience… at the risk of a mundance analogy, I think of it like a great BLT. The platform, interactivity, and social elements are the bread, and the “content” is the bacon, lettuce, tomato. And if you neglect the bacon, lettuce and tomato…what are you left with?