- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Radio veteran Richard Neer's FM is a journey through the history of rock-'n'-roll radio. As he recounts his own broadcasting career, Neer simultaneously traces the development, heyday, and eventual demise of free-form radio. He chronicles the legendary deejays at pioneering rock stations such as WNEW, KSAN, and WFMU, who brought both politics and exciting, undiscovered music to listeners across the country during the 1960s and '70s.
Neer got his start at a college station on Long Island, then moved up to the small classics station WLIR, where he and his pal Mike Harrison dreamed of working in the big city for the free-form station WNEW. Neer provides a crash course for readers in the basics of free-form radio, a unique format that encouraged deejays to choose the records they played on the air -- a concept that seems strange in the light of contemporary radio and its focus on the hits. But free-form radio was a flourishing, vital format during the late '60s and the '70s -- until the big corporations that owned the stations shut it down. Seeking increased ratings and revenue, management gradually introduced more and more rules in an attempt to tame the deejays, who were accustomed to selecting their own offbeat records for airplay. Neer describes the epic battles fought between hot-tempered deejays and hopelessly mainstream consultants brought in to raise the ratings. WNEW deejay Vin Scelsa, who got his start at the communal, wildly free-spirited college station WFMU, resigned almost weekly over limitations being placed on his music choices.
Along with Scelsa, Neer worked alongside many radio icons at WNEW -- including Scott Muni, Alison Steele, Pete Fornatale, and Dennis Elsas. Neer shares many personal anecdotes about his coworkers, but the strength of his convictions and the quality of his writing prevents FM from becoming a gossipy tell-all. Although wildly different in personal taste, all of the WNEW deejays shared a common passion for the music. Music was an integral part of the vibrant new youth culture that swept the country in the mid- to late '60s, and emerging FM stations like WNEW played a big part in bringing new musicians to the public. WABC was one of the first to heavily promote the Beatles when they first appeared in the States, and WNEW itself played a role in introducing Bruce Springsteen to a wider audience, broadcasting an early concert live from The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village.
The conflicts described in Neer's book -- individuality versus corporate culture, integrity versus ratings -- reflect such central themes in American culture that FM can be seen as an allegory for many media industries. Neer balances this aspect of FM with the personal, unique stories of the deejays, program directors, and musicians, making this the definitive book on rock radio history. (Julie Carr)