where the writers are
On the Radio: You!

It's been a long time since I've blogged in the Red Room -- mainly because of the Quincy Jones book I'm supposed to be writing, and because of the radio show I'm doing. So I'll blog to invite authors and photographers to be go on the air with me.

The show is "Backstage," and it's on KFRC here in San Francisco. That's a legendary set of call letters in these parts. In the mid-Sixties, it became a powerhouse Top 40 station. Four decades later, it's playing "classic hits," meaning rock and R&B of (mostly) the '70s. But my show, which airs twice on Sundays (and streams live), and has been running since October, is sans format. Yes, it's mostly music, and I can't very well mash Mozart into Metallica, but I create my own themes and sub-themes to fill each two-hour show, and I can roam beyond the "classic hits" parameters. Count Basie, doo-wop, Patsy Cline, Norah Jones, Shelby Lynne; songs about cats and dogs; mothers and baseball; one-hit wonders; an hour of fave female artists.

So, where might you come in? I've found it fun hosting writers and photographers--especially those with books that deal with music. It's easy to mix stories about musicians with songs, and it's made for entertaining radio. I began with photographers like Jim Marshall, Baron Wolman (Classic Rock & Other Rollers), Henry Diltz (California Dreaming), Robert Altman (The Sixties) and Lynn Goldsmith (Rockers).

Music biographers are a natural, depending on the subject. Paul Myers, author of It Ain't Easy, a book about Long John Baldry, was an excellent guest. Long John who? He was a British blues pioneer who worked with the very young Rod Stewart, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and members of the Stones, Beatles and Fleetwood Mac. Great music + well-told stories = good radio. On Mother's Day, I had Sheila Weller (Girls Like Us), telling stories about Carly Simon, Carole King and Joni Mitchell. Another excellent guest was Pattie Boyd (Wonderful Tonight). And when I was in New York the other week, I visited Phil Ramone, the legendary record producer, to grab a quote about his buddy, Quincy Jones, and to talk, for "Backstage," about his book, Making Records. Couldn't be easier. He chats about Phoebe Snow; I play "San Francisco Bay Blues." He recalls working with Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Dusty Springfield, and each story leads into a great song. I also popped into the Morrison Hotel Art Gallery in the Bowery and talked with Bob Gruen (John Lennon: The New York Years).

I edit the interviews into short & sweet bites, about a minute or so each, so that music dominates. (If you'd like to hear how these pieces turn out, just go to www.KFRC.com, where past shows are archived under "On Demand.")

So, if you recently published a book that might work for the program, just let me know. I'm at fongtorres@gmail.com.

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Sounds like fun!

When a motley bunch of us creative Alaskan types fell together to found Hard Right Productions (motto: Never worry about biting off more than you can chew; your mouth is a whole lot bigger than you think), I became reacquainted with a couple of old friends, John Tabacco and Nigey Lennon, who were in Frank Zappa's original "musical mafia."  (Boy, was THAT a long sentence!) 

    Anyway, I was humbled and honored when John agreed to write some musical score for our production of Plasma Dreams, the movie.  John is as edgy and bizarre as ever...perhaps more so...an eerie near-clone of Zappa himself.  Doing such a long-distance collaboration would have been unthinkable a decade ago (John lives on Long Island, and I'm up here in the Last Frontier).  The internet has changed all that.  Who would have thought that you could co-write songs separated by 4500 miles...in real time!

     When we finally have Plasma Dreams "in the can"...who knows when...I do plan on writing a book...sort of a diary...of the process.  It's been an amazing journey of just the right people coming alongside at the right time.  As well as working for free (most importantly!)

      When all is said and done, the movie might suck, but the music will be great! :)

       I definitely have well-entrenced memories of San Francisco radio of the late sixties.   I was madly in love with "Mother Koit" the sultry DJ on KOIT-FM.  Wonder what's become of her. :)


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Plasma Dreams...

sounds like a cool project. Good luck on it, Eric.

As for Mother Koit:That was the voice of Gale Garnett, of "We'll Sing in the Sunshine" fame. She's probably around somewhere, and locatable via Googling. Isn't everybody? --cheers, ben