KROQ top 50 1980

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

sorta a bookend/prequel/whatever to the various modrock chart polls w/ the station that played the largest role by far in defining the format (well into the 90s after it was all too well defined even). starting w/ 1980 as it's the earliest i found (did not look very hard tbf) and it seems like a decent mrca in terms of tracing classic rock and modern rock formats (ALOT of the new wave that managed to enter the classic rock canon even before recent adaptations in that format pop up below). also there are some funny juxtapositions here but i don't think anything tops 29-30 for lulz. source:

Poll Results

9. talking heads - once in a lifetime 14
24. david bowie - ashes to ashes 5
10. the clash - train in vain 3
37. talking heads - crosseyed and painless 3
29. gary numan - cars 2
16. x - los angeles 2
21. van halen - and the cradle will rock 2
23. bob seger - her strut 2
35. the pretenders - tattooed love boys 2
38. the clash - clampdown 2
31. the b-52's - private idaho 2
25. peter gabriel - games without frontiers 2
22. queen - another one bites the dust 1
20. tom petty - don't do me like that 1
1. devo - whip it 1
27. pink floyd - comfortably numb 1
45. david bowie - fashion 1
17. devo - freedom of choice 1
2. the pretenders - the wait 1
3. tom petty - refugee 1
4. the rolling stones - she's so cold 1
50. the rolling stones - emotional rescue 1
49. tom petty - here comes my girl 1
44. the surf punks - my beach 1
15. the dead kennedys - holiday in cambodia 1
11. oingo boingo - only a lad 1
14. the vapors - turning japanese 1
48. devo - girl u want 0
39. heart - even it up 0
40. the motels - danger 0
46. rockpile - teacher teacher 0
41. bruce springsteen - ramrod 0
47. oingo boingo - ain't this the life 0
42. pete townshend - rough boys 0
43. elvis costello - 5ive gears in reverse 0
7. the cars - touch and go 0
36. the police - don't stand so close to me 0
6. pink floyd - another brick in the wall part II 0
8. the police - de do do do de da da da 0
12. john lennon - cleanup time 0
13. ac/dc - what do you do for money honey 0
18. the romantics - what i like about you 0
19. the pretenders - mystery achievement 0
26. the rolling stones - let me go 0
28. the cars - up and down 0
30. alice cooper - clones 0
32. genesis - misunderstanding 0
33. rod stewart - foolish behavior 0
34. pat benatar - hit me with yr best shot 0
5. the b-52's - give me back my man 0

balls, Monday, 30 June 2014 18:13 (six years ago) link

"Tattooed Love Boys" just over "Train in Vain," "Clampdown," "Mystery Achievement" and "Emotional Rescue"

You know something? He *did* say "well, yeah" a lot. (cryptosicko), Monday, 30 June 2014 18:23 (six years ago) link

Love how AOR with New Wave pretensions/promotion got slotted ("She's So Cold"!).

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 30 June 2014 18:24 (six years ago) link

and whoa "The Wait" got airplay?!

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 30 June 2014 18:25 (six years ago) link

I don't think I was aware of "Give Me Back My Man" even being a single or making any kind of a splash on its lonesome. Such a great song, though.

The Golan & Globus Action Lafftacular! (Old Lunch), Monday, 30 June 2014 18:26 (six years ago) link

"Crosseyed and Painless" on a list of not-greatest hits.

heavy on their trademark ballads (Eazy), Monday, 30 June 2014 18:42 (six years ago) link

"Los Angeles," easily. Dislike a lot of stuff on there. I'll spare myself some grief by not posting the Angry Samoans' "Get Off the Air," their pean to KROQ's Rodney Bingenheimer.

clemenza, Monday, 30 June 2014 18:45 (six years ago) link

"Games Without Frontiers" easily but the polymetre in "Touch and Go" is awesome. Would be interested in reading more about the history of this station.

EveningStar (Sund4r), Monday, 30 June 2014 19:08 (six years ago) link

And I say rock on.

EZ Snappin, Monday, 30 June 2014 19:38 (six years ago) link

Ha, did the Surf Punks ever make a chart anywhere else?

EveningStar (Sund4r), Monday, 30 June 2014 19:51 (six years ago) link

Jesus, like a big chunk of these are my overall favorites by an artist (The Wait, Los Angeles). This is hard!
Oh wait, Train In Vain's on this list? Nevermind.

campreverb, Monday, 30 June 2014 19:59 (six years ago) link

Only a Lad, which got top 50 airplay when I was listening to KROQ 15 years later...

skip, Monday, 30 June 2014 20:49 (six years ago) link

Wow this is tough, could go with any of these:

De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Once in a Lifetime
Train in Vain
Holiday in Cambodia
Los Angeles
Ashes to Ashes
Games Without Frontiers
Private Idaho
Crosseyed and Painless
Here Comes My Girl

I'll prob wind up voting for Clampdown, but right now I'm leaning towards Private Idaho.

voodoo chili, Monday, 30 June 2014 21:08 (six years ago) link

Was a programmer at this station in Oingo Boingo? I started skimming their yearly charts from the link above...I don't think I know a single Oingo Boingo song (I remember the band), but they place songs on every chart through the '80s except 1983--sometimes multiple songs.

clemenza, Monday, 30 June 2014 21:17 (six years ago) link

haha i think there may have been a little bit of a relationship but i think they were just a big local band. i've told this before but in the lab the kroq 80s station (which is pretty great if you love new wave) is one of the standbys and soon after we started listening to it an oingo boingo song popped up and i mentioned how everyone i knew who grew up in la really really hated oingo boingo and it seemed weird to me, like what a fairly innocuous trivial band. after a few months of listening we understood. we understood all too well.

balls, Monday, 30 June 2014 21:47 (six years ago) link

Ha, I was going to ask about Oingo Boingo too but I figured they might have had a better shot of making other charts than the Surf Punks. (I don't think I know one of their songs either. Danny Elfman has done some decent stuff, though.)

EveningStar (Sund4r), Monday, 30 June 2014 22:06 (six years ago) link

the only people I know who like Oingo Boingo are from San Diego/Los Angeles. they make my skin crawl, personally.

Οὖτις, Monday, 30 June 2014 22:23 (six years ago) link

yeah i'm looking at the year end list for 91x in san diego for 83, another early mod rock station first year of new format and yup sitting there at #20 - oingo fucking boingo.

balls, Monday, 30 June 2014 23:22 (six years ago) link

Ashes To Ashes.

the joke should be over once the kid is eaten. (chap), Monday, 30 June 2014 23:26 (six years ago) link

I've got the double IRS compilation from the early-'80s, so I have heard Oingo Boingo. Skip picked them a few posts above, and he's got good taste in power pop, so I'll give that song a listen. Forgot about Danny Elfman's involvement.

clemenza, Monday, 30 June 2014 23:32 (six years ago) link

Very cool poll idea. Weird that You Shook Me wasn't the selection from Back In Black.

Once In A Lifetime, by a considerable margin.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 01:28 (six years ago) link

i grew up on KROQ, though 1980 was a bit young for me. i came on board around 1985 or so. it's funny to me that they played stuff like Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and AC/DC. the KROQ station i grew up on would never touch that sort of stuff. will say more later about KROQ when i have some time.

voting "Crosseyed and Painless."

Bee OK, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 02:06 (six years ago) link

lol bob seger

a much better poll would be all the rodney on the roq comps.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Tuesday, 1 July 2014 03:14 (six years ago) link

with due respect to the songs and artists here, many of which i love, this lily-white playlist is every bit as vile as the much-loathed AOR format that was being birthed around the same time. both formats bent over backwards in their commitment to the notion that radio should be as racially segregated as possible.

fact checking cuz, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 03:20 (six years ago) link

Other than Prince and Rick James, was there anything out there in 1980 that would have fit from a musical perspective?

Maybe the whiteness of the musicians is related to the whiteness of the audience the station was reflecting and creating. Maybe the answer to my initial question would be obvious to me if KROQ and the rest of the industry had done a better job.

voted Van Halen.

Zachary Taylor, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 04:36 (six years ago) link

In an attempt to answer my own questions, I have turned to Rate Your Music and their lists. I see that the Specials, English Beat, maybe Bob Marley, maybe some early rap, Zapp, S.O.S. Band, could have fit into that format. It's kind of a brittle new-wave influenced rock format.

A couple of years later there were more funk singles that would fit in there. I didn't notice any Latino acts and I'm not sure if Joe King Carrasco would have singles yet.

Zachary Taylor, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 04:51 (six years ago) link

(xp) on a strictly musical level, lots would have fit. if you're playing disco/funk records by queen and the rolling stones, why can't you mix in disco/funk records by black people? if you're programming talking heads "once in a lifetime" and david bowie "fashion," why can't you program zapp or grace jones? or the really good stevie wonder album that came out that year? or the amazing prince album that came out that year? (hell, only one year later prince would be opening for the rolling songs, who have three songs up there.)

obviously, segregation in radio formats is a complicated issue that goes beyond "strictly music" into marketing, image-making, audience perceptions, advertising dollars and all sorts of other stuff. but someone has to take the initiative and challenge some of those perceptions and prejudices if we're ever going to get beyond that, and radio, especially so-called alternative/modern radio, would have been in a great position to do that. i mean, AOR was TRYING to be conservative; that format was clear in its intentions. kroq and similar stations saw themselves as progressive entities, which makes their choice to be exclusionary particularly sad and offensive to me. modern rock radio did not have be this way. it CHOSE to be this way.

fact checking cuz, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 05:13 (six years ago) link

(sorry to rant, but this has always been a huge sore point for me.)

fact checking cuz, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 05:16 (six years ago) link

(also, prince obviously did not open for the rolling songs. i believe they were called the rolling stones, which is a much better band name.)

fact checking cuz, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 05:18 (six years ago) link

I took a quick look at the the KROQ top 50 crossed with Billboard's top 100 for 1980 ( Only common songs were Cars (#12 on Billboard and #28 on KROQ), Emotional Rescue (#53 and #50), Don't Do Me Like That (#64 and #20) and Misunderstanding (#71 and #32). In addition there were some artists on both lists but represented with different songs (Pink Floyd, Pretenders, Queen, Bob Seger, and Pete Townshend). Strangely enough Blondie was #1 on Billboard in 1980 with Call Me and not represented at all on the KROQ list - a far cry from their CBGB days.

that's not my post, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 05:42 (six years ago) link

Arrgh, missed that Floyd was on both lists with Another Brick in the Wall (#2 and #6).

that's not my post, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 05:46 (six years ago) link

No idea who to vote for between Talking Heads, Pretenders, and X.

that's not my post, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 05:50 (six years ago) link

yeah prince is kinda the key - he does fairly well in the 84 list but is pretty much absent otherwise even though 'delirious' would've slotted in perfectly (and tbf i think i've heard it on the kroq 80s station so it may have been in the mix, just not making the year end list)(which kinda points at one thing i've never been clear w/ here or w/ other station year end lists tbh - is this standard measurement 'these were the biggest hits on this station'? most requested? some vague mix of popularity and what the station wanted the brand to be? to an extent it doesn't really matter, all three rubrics are accurate enough in terms of tracing the development of the format, but a set of data coming from top down input from programmers that has bob seger and b-52's says something different than a bottom up input from listener requests or polling), it's the closest he came to thomas dolby or oingo boingo. there are a few other blips - 'super freak' actually pops up in the lower reaches of the chart (and it is interesting to think of as a new wave novelty), there's an occasional reggae song, by the end of the decade things improve very slightly w/ fishbone/living color/lenny kravitz (though you could argue only one of these is an improvement of any kind and tbh i'm not sure fishbone does appear, i think i'm just assuming surely they do). 91x's lists had more reggae as well iirc. otherwise yeah it's a couple of guys in the specials, a couple of guys in the english beat, a guy in general public (and two of these guys are one guy). rap i'm not sure realistically stood a chance (though 'white lines' pops up), it had difficulty getting airplay on r&b stations (the first rap song doesn't hit #1 on r&b chart til 87 - 'i need love' for one week - the next isn't until 1989 - 'me, myself, & i' for one week; the berlin wall comes down before there's another one. bill clinton is president before you get a hip-hop track to spend more than one week at #1 - 'nuthin but a g thang' for two weeks), but as much as the narrative is that modern rock stations were a glossier version of college radio (esp in the early 90s heyday when you had huge mod rock hits that would've obv college radio fodder a few years previous - hello crash test dummies) there's always been a gap between the two and i don't mean merely mod rock not touching stuff that doesn't have major label promotional money behind it or even mod rock stations (west coast at least as far as i've seen) not embracing rem until right around the time pop radio was as well.

balls, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 07:01 (six years ago) link

Am thinking there was more culturally diverse programming on WHFS near DC around the same time. It was at any rate better than the album rock (as it was called then, AOR as a name came a little later) stations, whose nod to diversity would be to play Beat It or Little Red Corvette on Smash or Trash when they were brand new without mentioning the artists' names, then "blow everybody's minds" with the reveal.

Three Word Username, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 07:36 (six years ago) link

Tough, but "Train in Vain."

LimbsKing, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 13:19 (six years ago) link

KROQ was sort of like a classic rock station in the late 70's so it made since that they held on to a couple of those bands before moving forward from here. you didn't turn on the "Rock of the 80's" to hear Disco.

Bee OK, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 01:46 (six years ago) link

well you didn't SAY you were turning on kroq to hear disco, and kroq didn't ask you to tune in to hear disco. but they did play it, and you did hear it. they didn't call it "disco," of course. they called it "rolling stones" or "queen." disco and funk were absolutely part of modern rock radio's musical identity. they just weren't advertised.

in later years, they'd play faith no more's "we care a lot" but they wouldn't play run-dmc. or, worse, they'd play the beastie boys but no other rap songs by anyone. i understand why they did this. i understand marketing and promotion and identity and all that. but the marketing and promotion were racist, and by submitting to it and perpetuating it, kroq and other stations were complicit in the racism -- even as they programmed a lot of really great music.

i am well aware that none of this is breaking news. but it continues to make me unhappy.

fact checking cuz, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 05:10 (six years ago) link

argument would be alot stronger if queen weren't a classic rock vestige they dispensed of pretty quickly, if they'd played non-rock beastie boys, or hadn't played 'white lines' (not sure how many other new wave hip-hop songs they missed really - feel free to name some others that duran duran covered though), and if they hadn't shunned disco stones for new wave stones. there are others new wave r&b songs they missed (hi dere rockwell) though again maybe they didn't - they played 'delirious' and it didn't make the year end chart. not that you don't have a point but acting like 'they played this new wave act's song w/ a disco component - why didn't they play this disco song w/ no new wave component?' is disingenuous at best. it's confusing genre fluidity w/ the nonexistence of genre. new wave stations played disco to the extent that they were new wave. disco stations played new wave to the extent that they were disco. r&b stations played rock songs to the extent that they were r&b. rock stations played r&b songs to the extent they were rock. prepare to have yr mind blown: 'heart of glass' and 'rapture' charted on the disco and dance charts but (brace yrself) 'one way or another' didn't. 'hey ya!' charted on the modern rock chart but - are you sitting down? - 'the way you move' didn't. 'bennie and the jets' peaked at #15 on the r&b chart but somehow elton john's next single 'don't let sun go down on me' didn't chart at all on the r&b chart. crossover depends on epistasis. i like freeform radio, i like pop radio (esp during non-hegemonic periods), but acting befuddled that when specialist formats show any kind of eclecticism it doesn't lead to some kind of complete rejection of prior format or some mutation into generalism is dumb. once you go black you never go back isn't an actual law of physics.

balls, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 06:24 (six years ago) link

i mean there's a TON of new wave disco not disco they didn't touch. their peak disco probably comes in 86 w/ pet shop boys, boys don't cry, baltimora. obv those acts completely owned r&b radio that year.

balls, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 06:40 (six years ago) link

While it seems fair to ask just how cutting edge KROQ really was, but there's something about being outraged that radio was segregated in 1980 that rings a bit hollow to me.
To me, a bit more interesting question is whether the genre itself was self-segregating as alluded to in Bangs 'White Noise Supremacists' piece.

campreverb, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 16:43 (six years ago) link

I've got the double IRS compilation from the early-'80s, so I have heard Oingo Boingo. Skip picked them a few posts above, and he's got good taste in power pop, so I'll give that song a listen. Forgot about Danny Elfman's involvement.

― clemenza, Monday, June 30, 2014 7:32 PM (2 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Best O Boingo has quite a few good ones...but of course I would think that...

One funny thing about KROQ and Oingo Boingo is how much they played tracks from Boingo Alive, which was a 2-CD set of live re-recordings of their "hits" from the '80s. Through the early and mid '90s you could hear both the originals and the re-recordings.

Boingo had at least one song in the top 106.7 every year from 1980 until 1990:

1980: 2 songs
1981: 2
1982: 2
1983: 1
1984: 1
1985: 3
1986: 3
1987: 4
1988: 2
1989: 1
1990: 1

skip, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 17:12 (six years ago) link

This is an interesting list - the most requested songs of all time - featuring a truly horrible #1 that I would have guessed if I hadn't opened the link first:

skip, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 17:13 (six years ago) link

While it seems fair to ask just how cutting edge KROQ really was, but there's something about being outraged that radio was segregated in 1980 that rings a bit hollow to me.
To me, a bit more interesting question is whether the genre itself was self-segregating as alluded to in Bangs 'White Noise Supremacists' piece.

why can't it be both, though? why can't we ask whether the genre was self-segregating AND ask whether radio was self-segregating? does radio follow genre or does genre follow radio? or do they both follow something else? i don't spend a lot of time in 2014 thinking about how radio was segregated in 1980. various radio formats were also segregated in 1960 and 1970 and 1990 and 2000 and 2010. i bring this up now simply because this thread put it back into my head, and i think it's relevant to this thread. would it also ring a bit hollow to point out that mtv refused to play michael jackson in the early 1980s if this were a thread about mtv's top videos of the early 1980s? or would that be ok?

to balls' points, i like freeform radio too, and no, i don't expect commercial radio to embrace a freeform format. what i would like, though, is for a commercial format that claims to be progressive and modern and forward-looking to display at least a modicum of openness and inclusivenesss and adventurousness. what does it actually mean to only play disco to the extent that it's also new wave? what makes a song or an artist new wave? do people just kind of automatically know that duran duran is a lot new wave and prince is maybe a little new wave and zapp isn't at all new wave? is the difference encoded into the music, or into the artists' choice of clothing and hairstyles, or into their promotional materials? is it an objective difference or a subjective difference?

fact checking cuz, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 17:35 (six years ago) link

I think those are interesting questions, and perhaps it's unfair of me to peg your argument as hollow. On the other hand, I don't think it follows that because KROQ operated within a narrow genre that all subsequent promotion of the station is racist (post hoc). The music industry has been categorizing and pigeonholing popular music since the rise of the 78, and radio followed suit for the same exact reason-commercial interests. Those interests rarely served art, much less social justice.

campreverb, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 18:47 (six years ago) link

It's interesting to me that the top 40 radio I grew up with in the 70s had room in its playlist for Barry Manilow and The Ohio Players (and Freddy Fender!) making it probably more inclusive than KROQ. That said, I totally get why they would play Blondie's take on disco and not Donna Summer's.

"New Wave Music" on wiki yields this: The new wave sound of the late 1970s represented a break from the smooth-oriented blues and rock & roll sounds of late 1960s to mid-1970s rock music. According to music journalist Simon Reynolds, the music had a twitchy, agitated feel to it. New wave musicians often played choppy rhythm guitars with fast tempos. ... Reynolds noted that new wave vocalists sounded high-pitched, geeky and suburban.[15] A nervous, nerdy persona was a common characteristic of new wave fans and acts such as Talking Heads, Devo and Elvis Costello. This took the forms of robotic or spastic dancing, jittery high-pitched vocals, and clothing fashions such as suits and big glasses that hid the body.[49]

This seemed radical to audiences accustomed to post-counterculture forms such as disco dancing and macho "cock rock" which emphasized a "let it hang loose" philosophy, open sexuality and sexual bravado.[50] The majority of American male new wave acts of the late 1970s were from Caucasian middle-class backgrounds, and theorized that these acts intentionally presented these exaggerated nerdy tendencies associated with their "whiteness" either to criticize it or to reflect who they were.[50]

wild-eyed, high-volume bursts of pious indignation (Dan Peterson), Wednesday, 2 July 2014 19:26 (six years ago) link

the top 40 radio I grew up with in the 70s had room in its playlist for Barry Manilow and The Ohio Players (and Freddy Fender!) making it probably more inclusive than KROQ.

top 40 radio, or whatever the top-hits-of-the-day format has been called at any given time, has pretty much always been the most inclusive music format on radio. still is!

fact checking cuz, Wednesday, 2 July 2014 19:59 (six years ago) link

In 1980 pretty much all my friends hated Ramones (too simple/dumb), Devo (too weird) and anything that sounded like "disco." And the first commercial "new music" station in my city was really big on songs like "Drivers Seat" by Sniff n the Tears, i.e. the commercially safe face of new wave. It was Danceteria-styled dance clubs playing Mi-Sex and Teena Marie side by side that rekindled my interest in R&B; I had really stopped listening to commercial radio of any sort at that time.

wild-eyed, high-volume bursts of pious indignation (Dan Peterson), Wednesday, 2 July 2014 20:27 (six years ago) link


LA Times

Ken Roberts, a concert promoter who rescued a debt-ridden Pasadena rock music station and oversaw its rebirth as powerhouse KROQ-FM (106.7), which helped acts like Prince and Culture Club gain mainstream attention, died May 22 in New York City. He was 73.

Roberts had been ailing since a heart attack in February, said his former wife Harriette Craig, who announced his death last week.

Under his ownership in the 1970s and '80s, KROQ went from being a much-maligned renegade to one of the most influential modern rock stations in the country, with deejays like Richard Blade, Freddy Snakeskin and Jed the Fish championing alternative music in the widely emulated "ROQ of the 80s" format.

Among the many then-unknown bands the station featured were Duran Duran, the Clash, U2, R.E.M., the Go-Go's, Devo, the Police, the Pretenders, Billy Idol, Oingo Boingo and the Eurythmics, all of whom owed some of their success to a middle-aged concert promoter from Hoboken, N.J., who wanted people to hear new music.

"I don't think he quite understood the music… but he wanted to be cutting edge," Blade said this week. "Ken really believed in the freedom of radio. What Ken allowed people on air to do shaped the musical taste of Southern California and exploded across the country."

Born in Hoboken on Feb. 28, 1941, Kenneth John Roberts was entrepreneurial as a child, delivering newspapers and hiring other boys to wash neighbors' cars. He attended Seton Hall University in New Jersey and helped pay his way working as a page at NBC. His connections there helped him arrange a concert on campus featuring singer Jack Jones. He booked Della Reese next.

After graduating in 1963, he started a business coordinating college concerts featuring some of the era's most popular performers, including Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, the Supremes and the Temptations. By the early 1970s his company was representing Frankie Valli and Sly and the Family Stone.

I moved to Pasadena in 1982, from the wasteland of Album-Oriented-Rock in inland America, and was blown away by the music I heard on KROQ. I remember the line, "It's hip man, it's totally hip it's the only thing happening". RIP, sir, well done.
AT 9:30 PM JULY 04, 2014

One of the engagements he booked for Sly Stone's band was for a KROQ-sponsored show at the Los Angeles Coliseum. When KROQ couldn't cover the costs, Roberts agreed to pay for the concert in exchange for a small ownership stake in the struggling station.

He did not realize what he had gotten himself into until he attended a meeting in 1974 with the other owners — a motley group that included a doctor, a couple of dairymen, a Sacramento lobbyist, a secretary and several other small investors. Roberts, with his background in concert booking, turned out to be the most experienced as far as radio was concerned. By the end of the meeting he was elected president.

He soon learned that KROQ's finances were in shambles after a year of programming without commercials, a gimmick intended to build audience. He took the station off the air for two years while he dug it out of $7 million of debt.

The station resumed broadcasting in 1976 but its troubles were far from over. The Federal Communications Commission had ordered the station to surrender its license, which made it vulnerable to rivals trying to take it over. Roberts paid them to drop their bids and bought out his partners until he was sole owner.

In 1979 he hired Rick Carroll as program director. Carroll, who died in 1989, was widely credited with refining KROQ's new-music signature, but Roberts kept him on track.

Snakeskin, who joined KROQ in 1980 and now handles the vintage KROQ playlist on the station's digital channel, recalled that Carroll had proposed a weekend of Beatles music to draw in more listeners but "Ken set him straight. Ken said, 'You're not doing no Beatles weekend on my station.' He could see this new kind of music was catching on."

KROQ's ratings soared in the 1980s, leading the FCC to award the license to Roberts in 1985. A year later he sold the station to Infinity Broadcasting for a record $45 million. KROQ, at 106.7 FM, is now owned by CBS.

Divorced in 1981, Roberts had no children.

In 1991 he returned to the radio business with his purchase of stations in Santa Monica and Newport Beach that shared the frequency 103.1. With Snakeskin as program director, a techno-rock format was simulcast on both outlets as MARS-FM. But it failed to find an audience and after a year switched to smooth jazz.

A risk taker who made and lost fortunes, Roberts had to give up his 112-acre Mandeville Canyon ranch in 2012 after defaulting on a loan from a Connecticut hedge fund. Once listed for $45 million, it was sold at auction for $12 million.

His turnaround of KROQ remained his most notable success.

"We were this tiny little station in Pasadena with a crappy signal playing music the other stations wouldn't touch with a barge pole," Blade said. "We all came together under Ken Roberts."

Bee OK, Saturday, 5 July 2014 07:13 (six years ago) link

a)i have no idea how that comment post got in there. b)he did die a while back but was posted in today's obituaries for whatever reason.

Bee OK, Saturday, 5 July 2014 07:21 (six years ago) link

i guess they were waiting for this poll.

Bee OK, Saturday, 5 July 2014 07:24 (six years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 6 July 2014 00:01 (six years ago) link

there's songs i think are more definitive of the format, or of the artist, or just "better," but i can't see me know voting for "ashes to ashes."

the times recommends: gluten-free dining in italy! (Hunt3r), Sunday, 6 July 2014 00:40 (six years ago) link

"not voting"

the times recommends: gluten-free dining in italy! (Hunt3r), Sunday, 6 July 2014 00:40 (six years ago) link

Same as it ever was

Walter Galt, Sunday, 6 July 2014 12:27 (six years ago) link

Same as it ever was

Frederik B, Sunday, 6 July 2014 14:19 (six years ago) link

hope to also have this series continue after this.

Bee OK, Sunday, 6 July 2014 23:16 (six years ago) link

yeah i'll go to at least the beginning of the mod rock chart, might go all the way to nevermind. after 91 the chart's just another mod rock station chart, whatever was distinctive fades pretty quick once the money really pours in.

balls, Sunday, 6 July 2014 23:28 (six years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Monday, 7 July 2014 00:01 (six years ago) link

KROQ top 50 1981

balls, Monday, 7 July 2014 00:37 (six years ago) link

I didn't vote but I would have went for "Games Without Frontiers."

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Monday, 7 July 2014 02:02 (six years ago) link

nine months pass...

Spacin' Scott Mason Died over this last weekend (RIP):

Condolences to family, friends, and co-workers of longtime CBS RADIO/LOS ANGELES staffer, CBS RADIO WEST COAST Dir./Engineering, and Alternative KROQ/LOS ANGELES "OPENLINE" weekend public affairs show host SCOTT MASON, who died this weekend, KROQ morning show KEVIN AND BEAN confirmed TODAY (4/20).

MASON, sometimes known on-air as "SPACIN' SCOTT MASON," worked in L.A. radio starting at age 14 at KKDJ, then at KIQQ and KTNQ-A-KGBS-F before rejoining former KKDJ PD RICK CARROLL at KROQ in 1979 as host and engineer, and remained with the station until his passing, adding corporate engineering duties in 1999.

In 2012, needing a kidney transplant and finding himself on a long waiting list, MASON received a kidney donation from KROQ morning co-host GENE "BEAN" BAXTER.

Bee OK, Tuesday, 21 April 2015 02:43 (six years ago) link

three years pass...

Gene "Bean" Baxter, a titular radio personality of long-running KROQ morning radio show "Kevin and Bean," announced on-air Wednesday morning that he will leave the show after 30 years.

Now, Baxter, a British citizen, says he's ready to move home to England. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the recent death of "90210" and "Riverdale" actor Luke Perry was a catalyst for his decision.

"It's another reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed for anybody, and we have been talking about moving to Europe for years," he told the Reporter. "But at what point are we going to do it? It can't always be a spot on the horizon. When you're young and healthy enough to enjoy it, you can't put off things that you've been looking forward to in life forever."

He also says part of the reason he's leaving the U.S. is the political climate, and because he feels "a civil war is coming."

"I'm not exaggerating when I say that," he continued. "We are literally watching democracy die in front of our eyes ... It breaks my heart to see what is happening to our country right now."

Bee OK, Thursday, 7 March 2019 02:31 (two years ago) link

i never listen to the radio anymore, Spotify for me almost all the time. this morning i tuned in and heard this announcement live, sad day really.

Bee OK, Thursday, 7 March 2019 02:34 (two years ago) link

He's moving home to the genteel calm that is the about-to-be-fucked-up-by-Brexit UK?

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 7 March 2019 02:40 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

RIP. Kevin and Bean even if that happened last November actually:

Bee OK, Thursday, 19 March 2020 03:49 (one year ago) link

end of an era, i was still in Los Angeles and pretty much listen to KROQ at the time Kevin and Bean made their debut in January 1990. Nirvana was right around the corner and another explosion was about to happen. moved to San Francisco in 1995 and pretty much forgot about them. 2020 seems to be the end and hopefully not the world.

Bee OK, Thursday, 19 March 2020 03:52 (one year ago) link

and where the fuck is balls? one of ILM's all time best posters

balls, i do miss you around these parts and know that you are out there somewhere

Bee OK, Thursday, 19 March 2020 03:55 (one year ago) link

Thx Bee. I also tried (not very hard) to get discussion going here: Worst song on KROQ's 25 Most Requested Songs of All-Time (2006)

morrisp, Thursday, 19 March 2020 04:22 (one year ago) link

missed that bump, sorry.

Bee OK, Thursday, 19 March 2020 04:42 (one year ago) link

No prob, there’s no good “general” KROQ thread (and I guess no good general KROQ)

morrisp, Thursday, 19 March 2020 05:58 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

A funny thing happened the week of March 8. Iconic Los Angeles radio station KROQ, long known for showcasing the top names in alternative rock, programmed a pop hit, Post Malone’s “Circles,” into power rotation. On March 1, the song hadn’t registered a single spin. Seven days later, it had 32 plays. By the end of March, it was averaging 65 a week — and over the last three months it has become the station’s second most-played track behind Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted” and ahead of Shaed’s “Trampoline.”

Post’s arrival came amid several major exits for the station: longtime program director Kevin Weatherly, who left in late February after 28 years — on the heels of a proposed pay cut (in the ballpark of 30% according to an insider) — for a position at Spotify (he starts in September); and the March 18 firing of morning host Kevin Ryder after three decades on the job.

The decision to blow up the morning show brought severe consequences. In the past two months, according to Nielsen’s most recent L.A. report, KROQ has dropped more than a share point among listeners age 6 and up (from a 2.5 to a 1.4 share of the market) — placing the Entercom-owned station far behind its alternative rock competitor, iHeartRadio’s KYSR-FM Alt 98.7 (at a 2.2 share). What’s more, according to one metric, KROQ lost half of its listenership in the weeks following the decision to yank “Kevin the Morning with Allie & Jensen” off the air.

KROQ was changing and leading the charge was new brand manager Mike Kaplan — who not-so-coincidentally had been nicknamed “Mike the Show Killer” by jocks at his former station, the aforementioned Alt 98.7. According to sources, Kaplan ordered “Circles” be added to the playlist immediately and mandated that all talent no longer refer to the station as “K-Rock” but rather use its call letters — K-R-O-Q — almost exclusively. The very sound of the word “rock” purportedly offended Kaplan, who not only felt it antiquated, but borderline toxic. “Rock equals death,” says a station insider of management’s view.

“They’ve certainly gotten a lot more aggressive with new music since he’s taken over,” says one radio veteran of Kaplan. “There are a lot of new titles, which was an immediate shift from Weatherly, where [song] adds were notoriously slow.” Some of those playlist additions include Powfu’s “Coffee for Your Head (Death Bed)” with Beabadoobee, 24kGoldn’s “City of Angels,” Tame Impala’s “Lost In Yesterday” and Ashe’s “Moral of the Story.” “They’re really trying to freshen the sound,” adds the source, who suggests KROQ had in essence turned into a “classic alternative” station — leaning “on heritage artists,” and not claiming new acts like L.A.-based star Eilish for themselves.

Kaplan doesn’t deny any of the above — and even chuckles at his “killer” rep — though he does clarify the mandate to voice the station’s call-letters. “It’s used interchangeably,” he says. “Rock music is part of what we do, it’s part of alternative, but it’s not the only part of alternative. We’re not just looking to play four white dudes in a band. Our audience is as diverse as ever and our playlist needs to be too. Whether it’s Billie Eilish or Lana Del Rey or rappers making alternative tracks such as 24kGoldn and Dominic Fike, we’re bringing together what millennials and Gen Z fans want. There are really no boundaries when you think about music today. We’re not a singular focus where we get so pigeon-holed and lack diverse options. We don’t just stand for one thing. It’s a lifestyle and an attitude.”

So what of SoCal standbys like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters and Sublime? A look at the most played songs on KROQ for 12 weeks (Feb. 16 to May 3) finds the Chilis’ first entry, “Dani California,” comes in at No. 42; No. 65 for the Foos’ “The Pretender”; and (gasp) No. 124 for Sublime’s “Santeria,” the very sound of sunshine, surf and smoke in better times. Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” a staple of the station if ever there was one, sat at 94, having dropped 60% in plays over the same 12-week period. (Ironically, Post Malone played a livestream concert on April 24 to some 10 million YouTube viewers that consisted of 75 minutes of Nirvana songs; he also pointed to the Nirvana-inspired tattoo that adorns his face and reads “Stay Away.” No doubt a young Post would have been a KROQ listener.)

Kaplan says artists like The Cure or Depeche Mode, KROQ mainstays from the pre-grunge years, can be found on sister KCBS-FM (“Jack-FM”). Acts like Blink 182, Weezer and Green Day, which are played on Alt 98.7 though with less frequency, “will certainly be part of the fabric of who we are for a while,” he says. “But others have taken that step to a different format and for a different target consumer.”

“Listeners absolutely expect rock to be a significant sound on the station,” counters one former staffer, a view with which Weatherly agrees. “Over the last five to 10 years, the appetite for new alternative music with our core audience was not as strong as it had been previously,” he tells Variety. “There have not been as many big hits that have stuck around. … I wish we could play as much new music as possible, but that was not what our audience said that they wanted. Alternative has been leaning more pop and the expectations from our audience were more rock leaning. … The artists that consistently perform the best were Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, Muse, Killers, Green Day.”

Still, KROQ’s on-air staff frequently grumbled about having to play “the same 90 songs” and the audience seemed game for a change too. But then came the decision to pull the plug on “Kevin in the Morning” during the early days of the COVID-19 stay-at-home quarantine. It left listeners who had formed a deep attachment over 30 years of “Kevin & Bean” without a familiar routine that would have mattered even more these days, and wound up demoralizing the staff that was left behind.

The reaction from KROQ’s most loyal audience was swift. Two months later, the station is still constantly deleting angry comments on its social media posts (particularly on Facebook), while listeners en masse write how they’ve stopped tuning in. “I have not listened even one minute after that and I have removed my pre-sets,” wrote one former fan — and that’s a tame example. Most are much more explicit — and not hiding their anger at both station management and owner Entercom.

“Many of these people on social media, they haven’t listened to KROQ in years,” says Kaplan defensively. “They just wanted to glom on.”

Entercom regional president Jeff Federman, whose oversight includes KROQ, says he felt the need to immediately yank “Kevin in the Morning” off the air, despite the expected backlash. “We’ve done a lot of research, a lot of strategy meetings around all of this,” he says. “So it wasn’t like this knee jerk, ‘Hey it’s the pandemic, no one will see it happen’ decision.” The station is now, more or less, retroactively proclaiming that the show died once co-host Gene “Bean” Baxter left.

(“Kevin and Bean” ended its run at the end of 2019, after Baxter moved to London. “Kevin in the Morning” was relaunched with Ryder at the helm, but multiple insiders share that Ryder’s contract was set to expire this November — and there was the very real possibility that the show may have ended after that, particularly with Entercom in severe cost-cutting mode.)

Federman miscalculated Ryder’s reaction, however, and says he assumed the 30-year KROQ vet would willingly agree to quickly segue to another assignment inside Entercom despite the jolting transition. “I really thought we were going to be able to take his career into a whole other orbit by moving him into podcasting,” he says.

Instead, a stunned Ryder gave a quick on-air goodbye, expressing his disappointment with how the end of the show was handled. “I’m truly baffled by KROQ’s cold, heartless attitude toward the people who built this station,” he said on air. “They’ll say it’s just business, but for a long time, it wasn’t. For a long time, it was family and no business.”

Because of the abrupt cancellation, KROQ listeners were alienated, and replacement show “Stryker & Klein” was forced to try and clean up the mess — and win back those fans who had kissed off KROQ for good.

“Things happen and people get upset,” adds Federman. “We certainly hope to win back people that have left us. We expected the ratings hit. You can’t pull off someone of Kevin’s stature and not take some sort of hit. And we knew that. It was a tough call to make, but one that we felt was necessary.”

Now, more than two months after firing Ryder, Mac Kay, Jensen Karp, producer Dave Sanchez and some of the show’s hourly support staff, KROQ is still in damage control mode. “There were 400 other ways to do it,” Karp says. “I think they just picked the worst way.”

Indeed, KROQ could have taken much of 2020 to celebrate the 30-year legacy of Ryder’s run — and perhaps even have reunited him with longtime partner Bean for a true farewell. KROQ’s sales team could have signed up sponsors and monetized it as an end of an era event. And management could have capitalized on the pomp and circumstance to spin a proper passing of the baton to new morning show “Stryker & Klein.”

“Kevin [Ryder] made this point on his way out: You always felt over there like you were completely expendable,” offers former “Kevin & Bean” star Ralph Garman, who was let go by KROQ at the end of 2017, soon after Entercom had purchased CBS Radio. “They never really seemed to appreciate that they had lightning in a bottle. I guess, like most of show business, they felt people were aging out. I understand that you do periodically need to inject new blood into a show or a station or a format. But the more corporate it got, the more decisions were being made by accountants and lawyers, the less successful the station became.”

“No one had a better term for it than Kevin Weatherly,” says former KROQ staffer Jay Tilles, who spent several years as producer on “Kevin & Bean” before heading up the station’s digital operations. “He foresaw this and said it wouldn’t happen overnight. KROQ would succumb to death by a thousand cuts.” (Weatherly does not recall the specific remark.)

In fact, KROQ’s buckle was a decade-long decline. It can be attributed to uncertainty in the radio business, which has seen its audience pivot to streaming platforms, podcasts, satellite radio and other forms of audio entertainment, and a splintering of the alternative rock format, where guitar-based groups of the ’90s and early-aughts are in a sort of format purgatory, not entirely at home on classic or modern rock. Some of it was also self-inflicted.

Says Kaplan: “Since 2013, the ratings were challenged.” Federman is less diplomatic about it, calling the slump “excruciating.” Coincidentally, that was around the time that KROQ also began to make on-air personality changes — including booting longtime “Kevin & Bean” traffic reporter Lisa May, which prompted major backlash. (Something that Garman’s exit in 2017 also triggered. Both times, the ratings took a hit.)

Veteran radio and film exec Don Barrett, who has chronicled the L.A. radio market for nearly two decades on his website, says that “someone took their eye off the ball. Piece by piece, the station was dismantled with no real innovation to replace the changes with compelling programming. Habits in morning drive are tough to change… The public firings over the years were unsettling to many. Kevin & Bean ruled the roost for decades. It takes a long time to build a new morning show. Replacements can be as talented as those they replace, but it still takes time to build familiarity, acceptance and trust.”

* * *

The station’s slogan, “The World Famous KROQ,” was originally coined as a joke — Tilles believes, by legendary KROQ jock Freddy Snakeskin. A low-watt FM station out of Pasadena that played punk rock and new wave but could barely stay on the air through the 1970s, by the early 1980s, the station’s “Roq of the 80s” format had caught on. With famed disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer introducing the likes of the Ramones, Blondie, the Runaways and the Go-Go’s, soon bands from the U.K. knew this L.A. radio station could turn them into stars. (More recently, KROQ championed bands like Coldplay — Chris Martin even performed at Weatherly’s farewell party in March.)

By 1986, the station truly was “World Famous,” so much so that Mel Karmazin’s Infinity Broadcasting purchased KROQ for a then-record $45 million. Infinity merged with CBS in 1997 to become CBS Radio, which owned the station until being acquired by Entercom in a deal approved November 2017. Along the way, KROQ made future TV stars of such alums as Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly, Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew Pinsky.

In the 1990s came the peak of the alternative music format thanks to the success of bands like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. KROQ became one of the nation’s top-billing stations (as high as $68 million in 2005), and a model for alternative radio across the country. By the 2000s, KROQ had climbed to the pinnacle of L.A.’s radio ratings, and as recently as six years ago, “Kevin & Bean” was still the No. 1 morning show in Los Angeles.

Even Federman recalls the time in his youth when KROQ was a genre unto itself. “Growing up, I would walk into Tower Records and say, ‘Where’s the KROQ section?’,” he says. “That’s because we owned the music.”

“You put on KROQ because you wanted to hear something different,” says one longtime label executive. “It’s hard to stay edgy and cool. Now someone’s gotta take the baton and be adventurous and get back to whatever that is. You have to dare to be different.”

Daniel Glass, CEO of Glassnote Records, home to alternative perennials Mumford & Sons and Phoenix, puts it this way: “The best DJs in the world are those who aren’t afraid to clear the dance floor.”

But with money came the need to play it safe and not alienate that audience. “That’s the problem, you’re beholden to the ratings and you notch it down,” Tilles adds. “You’re now billing so much more money, your ratings are higher and you don’t want to go backward. And so every year more time was spent poring over the numbers. The music and morning show was researched to death. That’s why you hear Red Hot Chili Peppers on KROQ all the time. Because Chili Peppers is familiar. In a world of music and radio, you want familiarity and likability.”

As the KROQ audience aged, it faced a bit of a Catch-22: Attempt to stay relevant to younger audiences but potentially alienate that core listenership? Or stick with the guaranteed older audience, and lose out on the next generation? And, most importantly, can your sales staff monetize the demographic?

“The station has always had this debate,” Tilles says. “Keeping the older demo has its upside. They have more discretionary income, which is great for advertisers, and they’re far more loyal to radio. But over time this demo will diminish and if you haven’t backfilled with new, young listeners, the ratings will suffer. If you bite the bullet and play young, polarizing, trendy music, you can jettison the older listeners in favor of a younger audience. But the irony of the latter plan is that younger people are less inclined to listen to terrestrial radio. So in the end, you’re stuck with an older audience and more Red Hot Chili Peppers.”

Garman, who now hosts the daily morning show-style podcast “The Ralph Report,” says it seemed to him that the station managed to make all the wrong choices. “I remember Kevin Weatherly saying to us, ‘it’s really important for us to play more music and you guys are talking too long,'” he says. “This was at a time where streaming was blowing up, and Spotify and iTunes, and we kept saying, people can get music almost anywhere now. The best thing that terrestrial radio had to offer and I believe still does was personality driven content.”

Weatherly disputes that, however. “The old debate of more music, more talk, more music, more talk, that’s been going on forever,” he says. “I am obviously pro-personality. I brought in Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly, Stryker, Nicole Alvarez and Kat Corbett and recently put Klein on in the afternoon with Stryker, because that was a point of differentiation. If everyone’s playing the same music, what sets us apart? Personality? That’s the difference maker.”

Weatherly, who is credited with the 1990s success of KROQ, also constructed the huge popularity of adult hits Jack-FM — which has never had disc jockeys. But in applying the success of Jack to KROQ, insiders believe he may have stripped the station of its personality. And as Weatherly expanded his oversight inside CBS Radio (including KROQ, Jack and Amp), one insider says he became “completely checked out” when it came to KROQ.

“I don’t completely disagree with that, because there were probably some times when I was spread too thin,” says Weatherly. “I was trying to do the best that I could for all three radio stations.”

And that’s when iHeart smelled blood. After years of trying — but failing — at launching a competitor to KROQ, iHeart finally pulled it off by flipping its 98.7 FM signal, which had previously housed the softer alternative “Star” format, into a more aggressive rival. The renamed “Alt 98.7” also picked up steam in the mornings with “The Woody Show,” which particularly benefited from every time KROQ mishandled another exit on “Kevin & Bean.”

Under Kaplan, Alt 98.7 aimed to siphon away Millennial listeners with personalities like “Woody.” It worked.

“They started playing the exact same music,” Federman says of the competition. “And that became a problem. It wasn’t exclusive. We did a ton of research, we knew that we had to do something. And that something was: either decide if we were going to lean more towards 25-54 or push forward and play new music, which is really what the essence of the KROQ brand is. The research really showed us that we needed to start moving forward.”

Of his own influence on Alt when he was program director from 2013 to 2018, Kaplan adds that musically, “KROQ was behind the times a little bit.” But what it had, he says, was a brand. “Across the street, they have nothing,” he says of his former employer, catching himself. “They have, you know, a little bit right now, but the power of the KROQ name is just incredible. And we can bring it back.” (Worth noting: the current PD of Alt 98.7 is Lisa Worden, who worked at KROQ from 1995 to 2017, helping Weatherly build the station into a monster. She hopped to iHeart as its alternative rock brand manager, and took over KYSR, in 2017.)

That same formula applied to New York’s WXRK when it pivoted to the Alt format, another notch in Kaplan’s belt. Once gaining oversight of KROQ, the executive put into action a plan for both stations to mirror each other’s playlists — an unorthodox move, say industry observers. Kaplan acknowledges that the history of alternative in New York doesn’t have the depth that the format claims in Southern California, but in his view: “We’re not seeing a lot of regional hits so to speak anymore, because things are so omnipresent. … Whether it’s an artist breaking out of TikTok or suburbia, we’ve got to be on the pulse for that and be as inclusive and diversified as the audience and the artists are today.”

Of course, the status quo went out the window the day the COVID-19 pandemic became a SoCal problem. And ironically, it’s during those times that area residents look to local stations to get informed and feel connected. That’s been reflected in overall consumption of radio over the last three months. According to a recent study by Havas, 34% of respondents said their radio consumption increased. More telling: that number was 40% among those 25 to 34.

At the same time, the station has had to rely on specialty programming — like the recent top 106 songs of the 2000s — due to the lack of events, giveaways or its own branded concerts. Under normal circumstances, KROQ would have aired two weekends of Coachella programming in April and gone into announcements and giveaways for its annual Weenie Roast, which would have been held in May.

Asked who he thinks the KROQ audience is, Federman curiously answers who it should be. “The KROQ audience should be about 28-29 years old and ethnically diverse,” says the L.A. native whose business background is in sales and dotcoms (mostly failed, by his own admission). “And should be leaning towards new music. They should be the person that’s at Coachella checking out all the new music tents and not just sitting in front of the main stage to hear the big artists. They are very musically driven. They’re coming to us for entertainment.”

Barrett notes that Entercom has more challenges than KROQ. The company owns around 235 radio stations, facing similar challenges in virtually every market. In Los Angeles (the No. 2 market in the U.S. but the top revenue generator), Entercom’s classic hits station KRTH-FM (“K-Earth 101”) continues to do well by targeting an older demographic. Insiders say the company is seriously mulling a flip to sports talk for top 40 “Amp,” although Federman denies this.

“The economic challenges for all of radio seems daunting,” Barrett says. “Maybe trying to manage a half dozen stations in Los Angeles is just too much to ask of anyone. Everyone probably needs to step back, swallow hard, and concentrate on the stations that deserve to be saved.”

For KROQ, Federman and Kaplan express optimism that they can create a new legacy for the station, and perhaps live up to that “World Famous” moniker again. Federman says he would ideally like to see the station do a better job catering to L.A.’s diverse makeup. To that end, the station is launching “Alternalido,” a Sunday night show focused on Latin Alternative music, hosted by KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez. The station is also committed to Stryker & Klein, and plans to add more players to that show shortly.

Will it work? “I’ve predicted KROQ will eventually go Spanish, or talk for a long time,” Baxter wrote in a recent Tweet. “I just don’t see how the Los Angeles market can support so many rock stations. And KROQ is the most niche, and with the worst signal too. Still, I wish them well.”

Los Angeles has seen plenty of legendary radio stations come and go over the years, with call letters like KHJ, KFWB and KMET. In other markets, legacy alternative stations are already long gone, such as New York’s WLIR. Garman, for one, has made peace with the idea that his former employer isn’t what it once was.

“I think everything has a natural life to it, right? And KROQ became the man,” he says. “They became this traditional station because they simply had been around so long. There may be just a natural shelf life for anything: A TV show, a radio show, a station. Some of it may have been unavoidable. But I think they certainly facilitated the end coming quicker than it needed to by making some poor management choices.”

KROQ’s 30 most played songs (March 1 to May 17)
Source: Mediabase
BILLIE EILISH everything i wanted
POWFU Coffee For Your Head
24KGOLDN City Of Angels
TAME IMPALA Lost In Yesterday
ASHE Moral Of The Story
AJR Bang!
GLASS ANIMALS Your Love (Deja Vu)
SHAED Trampoline
LOVELYTHEBAND Loneliness For Love
KENNYHOOPLA How Will I Rest In Peace If…
THE 1975 Somebody Else
THE 1975 Me & You Together Song
MEG MYERS Running Up That Hill
MATT MAESON Hallucinogenics
MGK why are you here

Bee OK, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 02:30 (one year ago) link

that was quite long, i haven't listened to years. it was a good read and i'm sure corporate radio is dying everywhere these days.

Bee OK, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 02:57 (one year ago) link

Asked who he thinks the KROQ audience is, Federman curiously answers who it should be. “The KROQ audience should be about 28-29 years old and ethnically diverse,” says the L.A. native whose business background is in sales and dotcoms (mostly failed, by his own admission).

Mm, wonder why.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 03:16 (one year ago) link

Interesting article — I haven’t listened to radio for so long, I didn’t know that Star 98.7 changed to “Alt.”

KROQ playing new/different music sounds like a good thing after two decades of the same Offspring song every two hours, but sounds like they’ve f’d up most everything else.

Inadequate grass (morrisp), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 03:42 (one year ago) link

It's hard to cry about hearing less Sublime and Foo Fighters but replacing them with Post Malone is a fail.

skip, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 04:51 (one year ago) link

lol, agreed

Inadequate grass (morrisp), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 05:06 (one year ago) link

tho i don't like much of the current crop of alternative radio hits, the station that the kaplan guy is trying to build would likely be a significant improvement on what it has/had been. the alt adult contemporary model of programming that now predominates in the format has honestly been tragic, possibly even damaging to the legacy of the alternative classics it (over)plays

dyl, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 05:20 (one year ago) link

It's easy to see why they decided to switch to something new. Unfortunately they strung listeners along for years with half measures (a little Sublime/Offspring here, a little Muse there, a little Imagine Dragons and Marshmello for modern taste) so now no one is satisfied with consolidating toward any one subset of their potential playlist.

skip, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 16:32 (one year ago) link

I truly would be interested if some ILXor would be able to tell me something rte: the appeal of Kevin and Bean. It was for many years the #1 drive time show in the second biggest radio market in the US…but I wanna know if its any different from any drive time show in the rest of the country. I have listened to Howard Stern steadily for 30 years, but…I really have no understanding of the appeal of drive time radio other than his show…I suppose it's like being a Led Zeppelin super fan but being ignorant of Bad Company and Grand Funk and every other hard rock act all the way down to Shinedown or some shit…I listened to Opie and Anthony once and simply could not believe that anyone found this entertaining…

also, there are clearly some acts on the above list that any ILXor knows very well…Billie, Killers, 21 Pilots, Tame Impala, the 1975, and a few others;…but I do not have a handle on many of the others…which is to say, what is an alternative radio format presently trying to achieve and/or reflect, apart from selling ad time? what is the aesthetic? does the demographic mentioned by the GM in the piece listen to whatever this alternative music is supposed to connote? my impression is that hip-hop dominates the desired demographic…

veronica moser, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 21:09 (one year ago) link

I was never an active Kevin & Bean listener, but there was a period in the early 2000s when I would hear their show regularly (as part of my job), and their appeal was pretty clear to me. They were great on the radio -- the personalities, humor, etc.

Inadequate grass (morrisp), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 22:35 (one year ago) link

i probably know way too much about this radio stuff than i should. probably not as much as morrisp but KROQ was really that important to me growing up and admired what they did in those early years. one of my dreams was programming a big radio station but i was naive and didn't understand the money and politics behind all of it.

i used to listen to Kevin and Bean up until i moved to San Francisco in the summer of 1995. they came on board 01/01/1990. there was just a chemistry there that worked, they played off together so well. Howard Stern was on KLSX, a classic rock station at the time. i couldn't get into Howard as every time i tuned in he was always trying to get girls to take off their clothing. the real elephant in the room for Kevin and Bean was Mark and Brian, they owned the mornings at that time. KROQ had better music than KLOS and they could do tie in with the wennie roast or acoustic Christmas. plus Nirvana.

i moved back in 2003 but really when i put on KROQ it was all about Submine, Red Hot Chill Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins and the Offspring. i only liked one of those acts so i had moved on.

somewhere along the line iheartradio saw an opening and copied what KROQ was doing all those years. they are not playing Post Malone and took away everything that KROQ was. now they don't know what to do and they are throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. it seems like it's not working and the other alt radio station has stolen everything from KROQ including all their listeners.

Bee OK, Thursday, 21 May 2020 00:09 (one year ago) link

Great post, Bee

Inadequate grass (morrisp), Thursday, 21 May 2020 00:46 (one year ago) link

How often does KROQ still play '80s music? When I was growing up listening in the mid-90s the "retro" stuff was Oingo Boingo, New Order, the Cure, etc. They could draw a pretty clear line back from the KROQ origin story to the new music they were playing at the time. It was also easy for them not to swamp the new music they were playing - more like occasional reminders.

Now there's more retro music to choose from and more difference in the sound between the retro music and the new stuff. It's a hell of a lot tougher now for them to draw from a 30 year back catalog while staying relevant with new music, satisfying the longtime listeners, and having a coherent point of view.

I think we would all agree that KROQ shouldn't be an alternative oldies station. They could have pivoted toward, say, the Phoenix aesthetic but that doesn't mix well with Red Hot Chili Peppers. If you insist on playing Under the Bridge every day then that limits your choices for new music.

skip, Thursday, 21 May 2020 04:59 (one year ago) link

I am listening to every song on the above list by artists with whom I am unfamiliar to try to draw some conclusions as to what "alternative" as a mass market radio format comprised of new music, not the classic RHCP/Sublime/Foo iteration, in 2020 and, fuck, like 10 years prior, could amount to, what kind of aesthetic unifies it…if anyone else has some ideas as to what this could be, I would be interested in hearing…

there's also this, in which Mike Kaplan from the Variety piece seems to be dubious that Bille E and Lana del rey has a place on alt radio in NYC, which is hilsrious…

veronica moser, Friday, 22 May 2020 14:20 (one year ago) link

Looks like earlier this morning, KROQ played Billie > Smells Like Teen Spirit > Lana (Sublime cover) > RHCP > Daft Punk.

Feels schizophrenic to me, but maybe not to today’s KROQ listener.

Inadequate grass (morrisp), Friday, 22 May 2020 14:50 (one year ago) link

(Alt 98.7’s playlist looks pretty similar; maybe a touch more appealing. Recent run (as of 6:57am): Billie > Pumpkins > Fitz & the Tantrums > Daft Punk. They played “Hey Ya!” earlier in the hour.)

Inadequate grass (morrisp), Friday, 22 May 2020 14:57 (one year ago) link

DJ Shadow, didn't expect that.

skip, Saturday, 23 May 2020 00:26 (one year ago) link

Overall the amount of repetition is pretty mind numbing though. Daft Punk, Foster the People, Rezz & Grabbitz (who?), No Doubt, DJ Shadow, White Stripes, Muse, and Weezer each played twice within a 6 hour period, Fitz & The Tantrums (who?), Linkin Park, Panic at the Disco, the Killers, and Grouplove three times, 21 Pilots five times.

skip, Saturday, 23 May 2020 00:32 (one year ago) link

that's a horrible playlist, they need to play new music and not all these retreads. they should be playing stuff like Perfume Genius, Car Seat Headrest, The 1975... it seems so obvious to me, only playing Billie is not going to cut it.

Bee OK, Saturday, 23 May 2020 01:28 (one year ago) link

Lana (Sublime cover)

this reminds me that i believe the influx of hit covers on alt radio in the past few years to be partly attributable to the format's turn toward the oldies/adult contemporary programming philosophy (see also weezer and meg myers scoring big hits at the format with pretty straightforward readings of "africa" and "running up that hill" respectively)

dyl, Saturday, 23 May 2020 06:21 (one year ago) link

Checking back in on the KROQ & Alt 98.7’s playlists are the end of the day, I see that KROQ also has “Hey Ya!” in rotation. Both stations are playing old Third Eye Blind songs, which is somewhat unexpected.

Alt’s playlist, which looked slightly better this morning (if only for playing a more recent Billie Eilish track) isn’t looking so hot at night. Lotta Offspring.

Inadequate grass (morrisp), Saturday, 23 May 2020 06:27 (one year ago) link

...though they are playing the Bloodhound Gang right now, which is a thumb’s-up in my book.

Inadequate grass (morrisp), Saturday, 23 May 2020 06:29 (one year ago) link

another characteristic of 'alt ac' stations, or at least the one in my city, is their eagerness to play hits from the mainstream/uncool/'pop' phases of a (former) alternative act's run. like, most of the all-american rejects tunes they'll play are specifically the ones that alternative radio barely touched back when they came out

dyl, Saturday, 23 May 2020 06:49 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart has been rebranded Hot Rock & Alternative Songs as of this week.@twentyonepilots’ "Level of Concern" was the final #1. @Powfu's "Death Bed" is #1 on the 1st issue of the new chart.

— chart data (@chartdata) June 9, 2020

dyl, Wednesday, 10 June 2020 05:10 (one year ago) link

Is there still an Alternative chart?

Charging for Brewskis™ (morrisp), Wednesday, 10 June 2020 05:58 (one year ago) link

yes, the standard airplay chart for that format is still being published

honestly 'hot rock songs' is(/was) just one of the many useless genre charts that have the same methodology as the hot 100 (since 2012) and are thus entirely beholden to the arbitrary decisions that folks at billboard make regarding what songs fit in what genre -- for example, the weeknd's "blinding lights" is perplexingly categorized by billboard staff as an r&b song

obviously, alternative hits were being included on this rock chart in the past as it conventionally went without saying that 'alternative' music is rock music. breaking out 'alternative' in the chart's new title is evidently an admission that, well, it turns out that a decent subset of what's now considered 'alternative' music is not rock. the powfu song that's now #1 was not on the chart until this week -- readers surely would have howled at the suggestion that it's 'rock' -- even tho it's being played primarily at a putatively 'rock' format.

dyl, Wednesday, 10 June 2020 06:26 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Ted Stryker Departs KROQ’s ‘Stryker & Klein’ Morning Show, a Year After Taking Over the ‘Kevin & Bean’ Slot

Bee OK, Thursday, 10 June 2021 03:45 (one week ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.