In the fall of 1983, I was looking for a new radio job. I saw an ad from what was then WISM-FM in Madison, which was launching a new identity and hiring a new on-air staff. I had listened to WISM-FM while I was living at home, and I damn sure knew WISM-AM, a Top-40 legend in southern Wisconsin, so it was a job I wanted—badly. I polished my resume (and took it to the printer–remember when you couldn’t whip them up on your computer and you had them professionally done?), put together a tape, and sent my application.
Over the next several weeks, I called the general manager repeatedly to follow up. The last time, he told me, “I’ll call you in a couple of weeks.” He didn’t. He still hasn’t, but I’m not waiting anymore. This Sunday from 4 to 7pm (US Central), I’ll finally make it onto what is now known as Magic 98, where I’ll be picking up the occasional weekend shift in addition to what I’m already doing down the hall at 93.1 The Lake. Magic 98 is a bigger pond to swim in—higher ratings, stronger signal—with vastly different formatics to learn, but it’s also a whole lot closer to the kind of radio I was weaned on. So I suspect it’s going to be one hell of a lot of fun. Keep an eye on the “jb on the radio” page for dates and times.
If you start grabbing albums or CDs off your shelves at random, it won’t take long before you find Tom Dowd’s name in the credits: He produced and/or engineered records by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominoes, the Allman Brothers Band (and arranged the meeting between Eric Clapton and Duane Allman that resulted in their magnificent collaboration on “Layla”), Rod Stewart, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and others, going all the way back to Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk. With the Ertegun Brothers and Jerry Wexler, he helped build Atlantic Records into a historic label; while there, he practically invented multi-track recording. Not bad for a guy who started out to be a physicist, and who worked on what became the Manhattan Project during World War II. In 2003, Dowd was the subject of a great documentary film, Tom Dowd and the Language of Music. I saw it over the weekend, and you should see it too, if only for the segment in which Dowd, who died in 2002, sits in a studio with a master tape of “Layla” and breaks it down.
New at WNEW.com: a birthday tribute to Pete Townshend. I’m finally getting a regular posting schedule going over there, which will include This Week in Rock History each Wednesday morning and a “Rock 101” feature, which will be a weekly primer about various important people and events in rock history, every Thursday morning. On Saturday mornings, I’ll be posting about various Founding Fathers of rock. All of this stuff is supposed to start this week, so watch for it, either in the RSS feed on the left-hand side of this page, or at the main page of WNEW.com.
Cripes, I’m everywhere.