This via Irwin: Little Steven's keynote address at the Radio and Records 2005 Convention.
Date: Thursday, July 23, 2005
Place: Renaissance Hotel, Cleveland, Ohio
Audience: 250 Program Directors
Fred Jacobs introduces a four-minute video bio. At its conclusion, the Dovells' You Can't Sit Down explodes from the speakers as five Go-Go girls come out of the wings surrounding Fred, much to his discomfort. Little Steven enters to thunderous applause. He cuts off the music with a wave of his hand, leans into the microphone and says "Ladies and Gentlemen, Fred Jacobs."
The music returns as the girls exit. A stunned audience applauds wildly as Fred, very uncharacteristically, dances off with them.
Little Steven: Well that was worth the price of admission alone. (more applause and laughter... Steven paces with the hand held mic for a minute, and then. . . )
"I Love Radio! (applause once again erupts) And I feel nothing but love in this room because as I look around, I see only two kinds of people. Our beloved affiliates . . . and future affiliates. (laughter) So no matter what happens in this next half hour, remember what I just said. It's just family talking. And without any further disclaimers let me ask the only important question that is on my mind, and I'm sure you've been thinking about it also, especially lately.
When Did The Fucking Pussies Take Over?
(applause and laughter)
When? Don't you look forward to the day when your grandson is on your knee and he looks up and says, "Grampa weren't you in radio once?"
"Yes, Grandson," you'll reply.
"Could I ask you something," he'll say.
"Of course, my love, anything," you'll say.
"Grampa where were you When The Fucking Pussies Took Over?" (more laughter)
Where were we? What happened? Things are out of line and we're not leaving here today until we straighten it out.
(applause and laughter)
Now I was going to wait for this but we might as well get right to
it since it is all everybody's talking about. I have come to praise
JACK not to bury him. (laughter - uncertain applause) The guys at
Infinity are friends of ours, as is everybody else, we got nothing but
friends you all know that. And I've gotta say I'm proud of these guys
for having the balls to shake things up. Things needed shaking up. And
history will remember them in a very positive way when looking back at
this world changing moment. Having
said that . . .
Replacing 33 year old New York oldies institution CBS-FM with JACK is like replacing the Statue of Liberty with a blow-up doll.
(eruptions of laughter and applause)
But again, change is good. And necessary. With a little bit of luck JACK will last 10 or 12 months because it is obvious people want something different, they are hungry for something, anything. So it could be 6 months before anybody actually listens to JACK. Once they do it is doomed for 3 obvious reasons. At the moment it is replacing oldies formats but it is not an oldies format in the true sense of the word. It's mostly 80's, some 70's, some 90's. Now it must be said that the oldies format is vulnerable because over the last 5-10 years it has, in a word, sucked. It has sucked for a very simple reason, somebody had the brilliant idea to eliminate the 50's and replace it with the 70's. This was done by somebody uniquely stupid and deaf and ignorant and a bad businessman on top of it all. So naturally, everybody copied it and the 50's disappeared virtually overnight.
Now let's digress and examine this oldies thing for a minute. Assuming you accept the fact that those overseeing the oldies format these last 5 years - 10 years - are, in fact, stupid, deaf, ignorant, and bad businessmen, let's deal with it. As far as stupid, deaf, and ignorant, when it comes to decades that matter, that matter historically, in terms of influence, importance, and never-to-be-heard-again-quality - that is the 50's and 60's. Everything we do, everything we are comes from those two decades.
You're gonna throw one away? You're gonna replace Elvis, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Burnette, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Lloyd Price, and Fats Domino with, all due respect, Donna Summer and the Bee Gees? You're gonna replace primal, vital, timeless, forever cool rock and roll pioneers with disco? Disco?
You wanna know what disco is good for? Disco is for when you're drunk at a wedding with your old lady and you want to act like an idiot and be John Travolta for an hour or two. That's where it belongs. Not on radio.
And to the issue of oldies being bad business - all you hear - I'm assuming from sales people - is we must lower our demo's. The oldies demographic are getting too old - that's the rationale for replacing the 50's with the 70's.
Now if all there was to sell in the world were Fruit Loops, Play Stations, and sneakers - they might have a point. But I got a little secret to share. You know that age group - 35 to 65 - that nobody in sales seems to care about?
That's Where All The Fucking Money Is!
I mean ALL the fucking money.
35 to 65.
Memo to sales team - Sell Them Something!
And, by the way, if you want younger people listening, you can get that done. And I mean kids, if you want them.
Who is cooler? Early Elvis or Elton John?
What appeals more to kids, Gene Vincent's black leather attitude, Eddie Cochran's teenage frustration, Little Richard's cry of liberation, and Dion's total Soprano's coolness - or the Eagles?
You want wild? Put together the Sex Pistols, Audioslave, and the Wu-Tang Clan - they aren't as wild as Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime.
But you have to explain that. Show it, illustrate, educate, sell it.
Alright - digression over - so JACK isn't oldies so it must be some kind of classic rock/pop hybrid. But JACK doesn't address the two biggest problems of classic rock. 15 years ago I said we're chasing all the personality out of rock radio and into talk and sports. And the ratings went with it.
We need more personality, not less, and JACK has none. No DJ's means no personal relationship with the audience. Eventual apathy is inevitable.
The other big issue classic rock must consider is it must start playing new music again.
I've suggested it to my own affiliates and I'll keep saying it every change I get. We've got a big problem.
Look around. Pearl Jam does some business. Dave Matthews - if he's rock at all - does well. Maybe Oasis breaks this year in the U.S. Maybe Coldplay - if they're considered rock.
But in a real sense, the last big band through the door was U2. That's 25 years ago."