This week, I was honored that R&R named our creation of the Classic Rock format one of the 35 pivotal radio events in their long history. It is moments like this where I feel a great sense of thanks to my old partner, Tom Bender, and the many programmers, managers, and owners that supported the format back in the '80s. (There's a neat tribute to the format's 20th anniversary on our site - that is fittingly nostalgic.)
The large group of radio pros who continue to work with the format and help evolve it - and even reimagine it - reminded me of the "other community" - the listeners who have so passionately supported it for more than two decades. As Bender always reminded me, the key to Classic Rock (and any format) is to hold up the mirror to the audience and simply reflect back their level of enthusiasm.
We see this in every focus group and L.A.B. we conduct for our clients. A dozen people from varied backgrounds and socio-economic groups get together in a conference room to talk about the music and the station. Ninety minutes later, there's always a group of them in the parking lot arguing about concerts, albums, and other facets of the Classic Rock genre. The one thing they have in common is their passion for the music and what it represents in their lives.
That's why I love the Classic Rock stations that find unique - and even digital ways - to reflect that passion. KLH's Bob Bellini developed some great Classic Rock stunts that are widely being done by hundreds of stations today. When Buzz Knight was at ZLX, he regularly gave away those pieces of Classic Rock - cool memorabilia that music fans die for. Scott Segelbaum's Classic Rock Art Show showcases that vibe in a clever way that allows stations to create a unique in-person experience. KSEG's Curtiss Johnson is a master at reshuffling the deck, by creating musical stunts, special weekends, and other events that could only happen in Sacramento. In the '90s, Dave Richards also produced a lot of those groundbreaking BIG events and specials, back in the day at KZOK (before he became the Mayor of KISW).
And today, using some of the new tools, 97Rock's John Hager continues to use his website as a gathering place for Classic Rock fans. Just this week, listeners could leave Bob Seger birthday wishes online, or they could write reviews of the recent Police concert. The Internet in general, and station websites specifically, afford radio programmers and their listeners a unique way to share their Classic Rock love with one another.
There's your social networking.