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January, 2016

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Remembering Challenger on the 30th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Disaster

A TBT (Throwback Thursday) that was sad and tragic. 30 years ago today I was doing the morning show on Rock 108 KFMG, Albuquerque. We had the television on in the conference room for the Space Shuttle launch. Challenger was going to be special, including the first teacher to go into space, Christa McAuliffe.

When the shuttle exploded 73 seconds into the launch, killing all seven members of the crew, we were all in shock. It was a tough thing to crack the microphone and inform listeners. I remember spending a good portion of the day after my airshift in the production room splicing together a tribute with song excerpts anAstronaut and teacher Christa McAuliffe of the Challenger Space Shuttle crewd commentary.

I have always been an avid fan of space exploration, so the tragedy hit me hard. But it was also a powerful experience to share my grief with so many radio listeners. Many of them found it cathartic to hear the tribute I made. It was cathartic to produce it.

Now that I am no longer in radio broadcasting I still find that sharing exploration and challenging (pun intended as a tribute to the shuttle and its great crew) frontiers is both gratifying and important in the classroom where I daily teach 5th graders. I never would have guessed thirty years ago that today I might have something in common with Astronaut McAuliffe.

See news and a remembrance here.

Lucky to Get Old

January 27, 2016

Do you think of old age as people in nursing homes, or bedridden, or just so slowed down and "broken down" that there isn't much to do anymore? If so, consider changing your idea of being elderly.

More and more people are recognizing that getting older is a good thing. You are accumulating wisdom and experiences. You have greater insight into the important things in life (family, friends, health). Yes, as you get older you can develop health concerns. The body doesn't do what it used to do. And more people you know and love die. However, the privilege of growing old is denied to many people. Even the rock group the Who and their main songwriter Pete Townshend probably have a different opinion than the line, "Hope I die before I get old" from their 1960's song, My Generation.

Dr. Bill Thomas, a geriatrician and theater performer, is traveling the country trying to change people's attitudes about aging. Read the thought-provoking article from The Washington Post online here.

Glenn Frey Dies - An Eagle Has Flown

January 19, 2016

It seems not a day has gone by in this young year of 2016 that doesn't include the sad news of another famous performer dying. The passing of another voice of my generation, Glenn Frey, a co-founder of the group the Eagles, happened yesterday. He was only 67. The other celebrity deaths recently are in a similar age range, late 60's to early 70's. It does give one pause to hear this news so often, but the truth is we are all getting older. Still, it is a bit of a shock to hear this on the heels of the passing of Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister and Natalie Cole (among others).

Although Frey hailed from Detroit, Michigan, he was quintessential Southern California in the 1970's. He and Don Henley formed the band that gave us such memorable songs as "Take It Easy" (co-written by Jackson Browne), "Lyin' Eyes", "Desperado" and "Hotel California". That's a very small sampling from their excellent song catalog. The Eagles also included Timothy B. Schmidt and Joe Walsh, who both joined in a later incarnation and had already enjoyed popularity in their own groups (Poco and James Gang). Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and Don Felder were earlier members and the group is in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Glenn Frey had a successful solo career and also did some acting. He was by all accounts hard working and a caring man. I certainly enjoyed playing his music on the radio for thirty years.

You can read many excellent obituaries and tributes from various publications. I found what was posted on the Eagles official website to be particularly poignant as they included lyrics from a song Frey co-wrote for the Long Road Out of Eden record. "It's Your World Now" includes the lines, It's your world now / My race is run / I'm moving on / Like the setting sun / No sad goodbyes / No tears allowed / You'll be alright / It's your world now.

Check This Out - The Human Library Organization

January 14, 2016

At most libraries you check out books or other media. In Denmark (and a few other locations doing something similar) you can "check out a human" and get their story face-to-face.

This is an interesting concept. You can find out about different people and life experiences. And unlike a book, you can ask questions. The Human Library Organization (see their Facebook page), allows people to check out this unique type of "interactive book" for half an hour. The library uses a card catalog system and you can search for a variety of stories. Examples include orphans, veterans, Holocaust survivors, gypsies and even prostitutes. The intent is to promote a better understanding about the diversity of people.

A Good News Network story explains it well and includes a link to a CBC documentary.

David Bowie and the New Mexico Connection

January 12, 2016

When I awoke to the news Monday morning that David Bowie had passed away I was again gripped by that strange sensation that happens as you age. The longer we live the more of the influential people, be they family, friends or famous, in our lives pass on.

I just turned 60 in December. That makes me a Baby Boomer, and yes, of course, Bowie's music was part of what I grew up on. He was such a chameleon and one of my favorite songs by him was "Changes".

He was never one to be retro. He kept reinventing himself and influencing others with his music through the years. His latest album, Blackstar, was released on January 8, 2016, which also happened to be David Bowie's 69th birthday. The video for the track "Lazarus" is a bit eerie with Bowie lying in a hospital bed with bandaged eyes and singing, "Look up here, I'm in Heaven". It's pretty obvious this record is his goodbye gift to the world. Indications are that Bowie knew this would be his swansong.

Bowie died just a couple of days after his birthday and he was fortunate to be surrounded by his family. He had been dealing with cancer for 18 months, but that was kept pretty quiet. Good for him.

The New Mexico connection with Bowie is two-fold. The very first fan letter to Bowie from an American was in 1967 from a 14-year old girl living in New Mexico. Bowie was so excited he immediately typed a lovely return letter (link). The other connection was the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, a sci-fi film starring David Bowie was filmed in New Mexico, on the eastside of the Sandia Mountains in the old mining town of Madrid. I live in Albuquerque and I've driven through this quaint little town many times.

Bowie was avante garde and multi-talented as a musician and actor. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on.

Pure Rock KNAC Began Thirty Years Ago (a Throwback Thursday)

January 7, 2016

My first blog entry of 2016 looks back thirty years ago to the launch of a legendary Southern California radio station. Long Beach was the home for the 105.5 FM frequency and a relatively low-power radio station. KNAC broadcast with 3,000 watts, so it was hard to compete with big 10,000 and 50,000 stations. A formula was hit on, a risky proposition that ended up becoming something of a legend. "The little station with the big attitude", Pure Rock 105.5 KNAC launched on January 8, 1985.
KNAC radio station staff 1988
The radio station played hard rock and heavy metal and found an avid audience in Southern California. It helped that bands like Motley Crue, Aerosmith, Van Halen, AC/DC, Metallica, Guns n' Roses, Scorpions, Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne were all enjoying great popularity. KNAC played these bands and many others, including artists that other FM radio stations wouldn't touch. It wasn't safe and it wasn't conservative. It was loud, proud and outrageous. Part of KNAC's success was personality in spades. The radio DJ's were fun and funny and reflected the overall edgy personality of the radio station.

The station gained fame through a street buzz and underground credibility. It helped that the artists played on the station showed their gratitude by talking up KNAC in interviews, wearing t-shirts with the station logo and basically giving an endorsement that helped spread the radio station's cool factor.

In my previous life of radio broadcasting I was privileged to be the program director for KNAC from mid-1987 to the end of 1989. What a blast to work with so many creative and enthusiastic broadcasters, from the management of Gary Price and Nicky Randolph to the music and promotion staff (Ross Goza, Tom Maher, Michael Davis) and some of the best air talent ever (Thrasher, Long Paul, the late Tawn Mastry, Gonzo Greg, Dangerous Darren, Philthy Phil, Nasty Neil, Stew Herrera and many others who contributed to the mix). The record industry also helped by giving us many opportunities for fun promotions, concert tie-ins and band interviews. It was a great time for radio.

The station eventually was sold and changed formats, something that happens a lot in the industry. But a celebration 30 years later is happening this weekend in Los Angeles. Many KNAC alumni will get together to celebrate the legend of Pure Rock KNAC. I'm sure many glasses will be raised in toasts, including some for recently passed away Lemmy of Motorhead, an avid KNAC fan and true hard rocker. For those about to (and always have been) rock(in), we salute you!

| Hear radio podcast from Thrashpie about the beginning of KNAC |

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