Josh Venable, who called yesterday with some news he wanted to share, needs to put down his cellphone for a second. He's out in Los Angeles and on the air, working the day shift at KYSR-FM (98.7) -- among Southern California's most popular purveyors of "modern adult contemporary" rock. (Hey, it's where Ryan Seacrest got his start!) And it's time to take a call.
"You're caller No. 98," he tells a woman whose name is Cynthia. "And you've won $250 in free gas, lady." Then, he wonders, "Are you a 'rock-a-holic' on our Web site?" Um, yes? "Then we're throwing in a key that might start a brand-new Ford Mustang," he tells her. Both of them sound thrilled. Then it's back to the modern adult contemporary rock -- some new Death Cab for Cutie, followed by Stone Temple Pilots. The mind reels.
"Just spinning the hits, as always," Venable says. "Makin' hits, making radio magic, same as always. Same as it ever was."
Which is more or less true: Sure, he was booted off KDGE-FM (102.1) back in November, and he moved to "Rock Star 98.7" in L.A. at the beginning of the year, but he's actually been heard on The Edge, from 7 p.m. to midnight, since February. (Both stations are owned by Clear Channel.) And beginning this Sunday night, he'll return to the local airwaves with his beloved The Adventure Club. Only, it won't quite be same as it ever was.
For starters, the show will air in a different time slot: from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. And it will more or less resemble the version of The Adventure Club Venable's hosting on KYSR in Los Angeles. Well, there is one new feature: Five Random Questions.
"That's where I'm asking the same five random questions to people more famous than you or I ever week," he says. "I think it might be Peter Hook from New Order this week. Let's go with that. Other than that, though, it feels normal. It feels very, very normal. Being on The Edge is all I had known from 1990-whatever till last November. That's the only job I had had, other than part-time stuff at Bill's or whatever. Doing The Adventure Club on The Edge feels like it should. It feels extremely normal. I do think I will get some small thrill hearing the Dallas intro play again, which I don't start the show with here. And I am really excited for people in Dallas who've missed the show for the last six months."
The latest incarnation of The Adventure Club won't be an exact duplicate of the L.A. version; Venable will tape two shows and throw in the local reference and the occasional local band. But for the most part, the shows will have "mostly the same playlists." Because, far as he's concerned, being in L.A.'s only a benefit: For starters, he's closer to the music business, and it allows for easier access to new music and bigger in-studio guests -- among them, most recently, The Kooks. Besides, he says, he's in Dallas every few months to visit friends and family.
"I'm there enough to know what's going on," he says.
"I am not making a big deal out of the fact I am not there," he says. "I am on The Edge every single night from 7 to midnight, and it sounds like I live in Dallas. But now that The Edge has a local show, I'll let most of the local stuff go to Ayo. But I'll play the good stuff -- new Centro-matic or Black Tie Dynasty."
If nothing else, from 8 to 11 p.m. every Sunday night, you'll know where to go when you need to hear some Smiths. Incidentally, Venable and the family now live in the Valley -- near a brand-new Wal-Mart and a Chili's. So he can feel "close to home." --Robert Wilonsky