Monopoly matters: I just returned from my stint on the Warped Tour and picked up this week's Dallas Observer with all these letters (June 30) to Sam Machkovech regarding the state of local music on 102.1 The Edge...So I popped up the article (That Infernal Racket, June 23) on the Web site to see what all the stink was about.
I have been active in local music in D-FW for more than 10 years now, and I can honestly say that support for the scene is quite possibly at its lowest. And I am not pinpointing The Edge. There was a time when radio stations HAD to play local music simply because the demand for it was so high. Bands like Funland, Tripping Daisy, The Toadies and Course of Empire were selling out shows in Deep Ellum without one hint of radio play...they had the support of a fan base who would pack clubs and make memories out of an otherwise boring Thursday night. My point is...The Edge doesn't OWE bands radio play simply because they are from the area. Radio reacts to what listeners want, and the only bands that are generating crowds worth mentioning ARE getting support from The Edge, the most recent being the Burden Brothers. There is a reason that they swept the Dallas Observer Music Awards this year--there just aren't that many bands in Dallas putting asses in the seats like they do. Ask any club owner when was the last time a local band sold out their club. It's been a long time. So in general, the support for local music by fans themselves is dismal at best. It all comes back to the listener. If you like a band, let your voice be heard. Come to a show, tell your friends and make a difference.
As for The Edge, in recent months the playlists have changed, and the word "alternative" has become absent from their recent marketing. This makes me sad, and I identify with Sam's comments regarding the evolving format. Everyone knows that Clear Channel is a thriving monopoly that is eliminating the word "risk" from every station they take over. That being said, you can't blame the little guys for trying. Duane Doherty is the program director for the station. He is responsible for playing songs that will generate listeners who will in turn respond to the advertisers they broadcast. I don't envy that guy when the ratings come in and the Clear Channel bosses tighten the leash on what he can play every week. If Duane played whatever he wanted all the time, he wouldn't have a job. That is why it amazes me that he will give local bands an honest listen. In some cases he will actually slide the song into rotation just to see what response it generates. This is unheard of for a commercial rock station, and shame on Sam for not noticing that, within these limitations, Duane has exposed Edge listeners during regular rotation to bands like The Vanished, The Feds, SouthFM, Supercell, Jibe, Eisley, The Rocket Summer, Chomsky and Zac Maloy to name a few. Do you think Clear Channel supports those decisions? I'm doubting it.
The disturbing reality is that even though Duane will spin these bands on the air, in most cases it will do very little for their draw at their next show. This brings me back to my original point. The support system for local music in this city is depressing right now. Why should The Edge take a chance if fans won't, either?
As for Jessie, bless her heart, I have never heard a DJ on the air show so much support for local up-and-coming bands. Every day she will plug local concerts and occasionally talk to a local band on the air about an upcoming event. DJs don't decide what they play. They play what they are told. And for Sam to make negative comments about them because they can't play the local bands they are plugging is simply irresponsible and ridiculous.
Sam--ask yourself why Duane should play Sorta on the air. Do you have a good answer? Then call Sorta's label and have them set up a meeting with him. He will at least give the band a listen.
Editor's note: The author is the founder of Buzz-Oven Records.
Bring back my old Edge: A sad "bravo," sir. Listening to my once-beloved Edge gets harder every week. There is an additional nail in the coffin that your article did not touch on: the demolition of the "Morning Edge" with Jagger & Julie. With Julie gone to 102.9, the boys are out of control, and Jagger is left with second-rate, 100 percent predictable sidekicks instead of a smart and capable co-host. I wonder whom the corporate brains are targeting at this point, because the playlist sucks. When you call yourself the "new" anything and have at least 15 songs in heavy rotation that are more than a decade old, your credibility goes right out the door.
Whatever happened to Dock: As a native Pittsburger and a Pirates fan circa 1960-'79 as well as a sports buff, I want to congratulate you on "Balls Out" (by Keven McAlester, June 16). I have always wondered what happened to Dock and where he was in life. Now that I know more about him and his whereabouts, I can appreciate him even more. Jackie Robinson's letter said it best. Thanks for a great piece of journalism.
James R. Oxendine
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Jewel of the desert: I was just wondering where the hell Keven McAlester got his info on Victorville. Best known for five prisons and crystal meth? Wrong! The high desert is a rapidly growing metropolis, not a "shithole" on the way out of L.A. Thousands of new homes are being built, and families are choosing to live here in this beautiful city. Get your facts straight. There are jails and drugs in every city. Characterizing Victorville that way is insulting.