Thirty-six years ago tonight, right here in Madison at the Dane County Coliseum, Pink Floyd began a brief American tour to promote its forthcoming album, The Dark Side of the Moon. The setlist included the new album in its entirety, although it wouldn’t be released in the States until the last day of the tour, March 24. One Floyd website has an interview with the band that notes, correctly, that DSOTM turned Pink Floyd from underground stars into major headliners, although it contains a quote from David Gilmour that indicates the unreliability of memory:
It was “Money” that made the difference rather than Dark Side Of The Moon. It gave us a much larger following, for which we should be thankful. But it included an element that wasn’t versed in Pink Floyd’s ways. It started from the first show in America. People at the front shouting, “Play “Money”! Gimme something I can shake my ass to!” We had to get used to it, but previously we’d been playing to 10,000-seaters where, in the quiet passages, you could hear a pin drop. One always has a bit of nostalgia for the days when we could perform without compromise to that level of dynamics.
Except that couldn’t have happened at the very first show in March, or even on the first tour, because “Money” didn’t hit American radio until May. There was a two-week June leg of the tour on which it might have happened, though. Regardless of when or where it happened, the idea that there might have been fans in 1973 who equated Pink Floyd’s music with booty-shaking is hard to fathom. Not “versed in Pink Floyd’s ways”? I should say so.
Elsewhere, our local alt-weekly reported on the continuing demise of live-and-local jocks on Madison radio. There’s nothing too newsworthy in it, not for somebody plugged into the market like I am, or for anybody who’s paid attention to the changing radio landscape these past 10 or 15 years. But I imagine it opened a few eyes (and ears) around town.
I was pleased that it was my station’s program director, Pat O’Neill, who was willing to comment for attribution on Magic 98’s commitment to being live and local. Of course, it helped that Magic and its parent company have a commitment to being live and local. I’m not surprised that officials at the other two big companies in town, Entercom and Clear Channel, were unwilling to comment. But Clear Channel’s policy that local staffers can’t respond to questions about local programming, and that the corporate PR department will (except they won’t), left me gobsmacked. Really? I used to be a program director, and I don’t imagine I would respond well to being told that I couldn’t answer questions about what I was doing—and furthermore, that some pants-suited flack in San Antonio, who may never have set foot in a radio station a single day in her natural life, would do it instead. But that’s the radio world we live in.