90s in 90 Days #1: It’s Over.
As recently mentioned, I’m working towards finding solutions for my long-shelved book on Chicago music in the 90s. As that’s going on, I decided to start something new on this blog site:
90s in 90 Days
Over the course of 90 days (not consecutive, though I’ll try), I’ll be offering up a capsule look at something about Chicago music from the 90s. It could be a radio memory. Thoughts on a song, show, band, or album. Maybe a review aided by hindsight. Whatever it is, it’ll be original content just for this site, and not found in my book.
1. It’s Over.
The curse of hosting a local music show–or any radio specialty show, for that matter–is that Program Directors hate the idea of it. Specialty shows are programmed by the on-air host, and the music that’s played on them is mostly unfamiliar. Worse, in the mid-90s (and probably through today), the Sunday 11 p.m. time slot was a ratings dead zone, when most current-based music stations couldn’t scare up a listener to save their souls.
The Local Music Showcase was cancelled twice, ratings cited as the reason in both cases. I’ll always remember the first time the axe fell. I made a habit of pretaping band performances for the show during normal weekday business hours, when I had the benefit of a sound engineer on site. On the morning I’d booked a noisy little band called Lorax to come in for a recording session, I got pulled into the Program Director’s office.
Once I sat down, the P.D. told me politely and professionally that the local show’s ratings were dragging the weekend ratings down, and that it was being pulled off the schedule immediately. It had nothing to do with me, I was told, it was just business. The whole conversation took five, maybe 10, minutes.
I walked out of the office and looked at my watch. The band was supposed to arrive in minutes…I had to tell them to turn around. Suddenly, I heard my name paged on the intercom: the band was waiting for me in the loading dock.
I’m sure the band members ditched out of work to come down to the studio. They were probably looking forward to the added exposure, too. After shaking their hands, I said awkwardly, “Um, the show’s just been cancelled. We can’t do the recording.”
After that morning, I fell out of contact with the band. They probably hated me (consider the messenger killed), but I was also too embarrassed by the situation to go chasing after them once the show was revived.