Radio Song

I learned of a different kind of passing tonight, but one that kicks me right in the nostalgia bone, nonetheless.  Nelson DeMille once wrote that “nostalgia is basically remembering things that did not suck”, and he could not be more correct.

I was born in 1970 and, as the youngest of five kids, learned all about music from my older siblings.  So I was raised on 70s rock, basically.  All the major bands were made available to me via record collections of my older brothers (and, to a lesser extent, my sister – maybe just for Peter Frampton). Zeppelin, Floyd, The Who, KISS (sadly), The Eagles, and even lesser known acts such as UFO and Pat Travers.  But all those names are just a drop in the bucket of my musical youth.

The two radio stations we (the siblings and I) listened to in the DFW area were The Zoo and Q102, both focusing on the music we loved.  Two options to switch back and forth from, avoiding whichever one was playing Steve Miller.

But then the 80s came and rock and roll as I knew it seemed to fade away.  Intelligent lyrics and intricate melodies were replaced by bar chords and faux glam.  Style over substance won the day.  So, as a teenager, I was naturally attracted to this new influx of cheese rock.  I am not embarrassed to admit that I liked Poison, Ratt, Motley Crue, etc.  Because now I realize they were just placeholders – something to keep my music medulla engaged until I met my soulmate.

During my high school years, two of my brothers were in a band that was trying a new approach.  Gone were their covers of 70s rock, instead replaced by bands I’d never heard of like R.E.M., Modern English, and Echo & The Bunnymen.  I started listening to their cassette tapes (as the music medium continued to move forward from albums) and fell in love with this “new” music.  But where the hell could I find this stuff on the radio, other than listening to a few select hours of KTCU programming?

Then 1989 happened.

Hey, I can’t find nothing on the radio
Ah, yo turn to that station

I don’t remember how I first heard about it, but 94.5 KDGE (The Edge) immediately became my go-to station when it hit the air in 1989.  I knew very little about “alternative” music, but immersed myself right away and learned all sorts of banal factoids.  Every song I heard, whether I liked it or not, I wanted to know who performed it. And what album it was on. And where the band was from. You know, all the things an eventual college drop-out finds to occupy his time.

A large portion of my fast food paychecks was spent on cassette tapes at Sound Warehouse, sometimes after only hearing one song.  But The Edge made this endeavor easy for me (eventually), because on New Year’s Eve of 1989, they proceeded to air a countdown of their top 500 alternative songs of all time.

And then they put that handy list of 500 on a poster.  And they made the poster available (for free) to the public.  At Sound Warehouse.  My virtual hangout.

Once I got my hands on that poster, I looked for bands that were on there multiple times.  And then I went and purchased their music – sometimes without ever even hearing it beforehand, based solely on number of entries on the list.

Yeah, I spent a ton of money at Sound Warehouse as a teenager.

But I was also enlightened to an entire new genre of music.  No more hearing the same old songs (no matter how good, if you hear them enough, they seem old and stale) on classic rock radio.   No more having to act like I enjoy Poison or Twisted Sister because now I have a new love to espouse – music more tailored to the thinking man.  Or kid.  Whatever.

And then I hear the news today that The Edge is going away.  Already gone, actually, since they are just playing two songs on a loop and their website redirects to another DFW station (97.1 The Eagle).

For years, The Edge held an annual concert (Edgefest) that was an all day long affair.  I went to the first three, and I wanted to look up the years to check my memory, but I was sent again to the Eagle’s website.  Those memories are now erased from the web.

(Funny sidenote:  A few years ago, my friend Kevin sent me a text message that read something like “They are having Edgefest 23 this year.  We went to Edgefest 1.  We are old.”)

I heard my brother Glenn win a contest on The Edge (and proclaim himself as “really smart”).  I heard local band pop poppins on the station, and eventually became friends with the members of that band because my brothers’ band often opened for them. A future friend was in a band that was featured on one of the Tales From The Edge CDs (issued to promote local music).

So many great memories associated with the station.  Sigh.

The truth is, though, that I have not listened to The Edge in forever.  It changed over the years as the radio industry itself changed.  Gone were deep cuts from albums, only to be replaced by what the radio overlords wanted to be played – at “x” amount of times per day.  By then, I had moved on.

But that doesn’t make today any less sad.

Thank you, KDGE.  You lasted 27 years, and that is to be celebrated. And, you know, there’s a club (if you’d like to go).  You could meet somebody who really loves you.

The world is collapsing
Around our ears
I turned up the radio
But I can’t hear it
– “Radio Song”, R.E.M. (feat KRS-One)



5 thoughts on “Radio Song

  1. Marty Esparza

    What you wrote sums it up for me. I listen now to internet radio. College radio stations seem to be the only ones that really will challenge your taste in music while playing songs i grew up with in the 1950’s. One station I have listened to for the past ten years is KEXP 90.3 Seattle’s John (Richards) in the Morning. Hearing his four hours every morning gave me hope for my music future. I have discovered new bands and rediscovered some old faves. Give it a try and I think you’ll be surprised at what you hear. And it will sort of remind you of listening to the Rock and Roll Alternative Show with George Gimarc.

  2. Christine Paulljn

    I must have seen you at Sound Warehouse, and Edge Fest! The first Edge Fest was on April 19, 1992, I’m almost sure of the year, I do remember the day, it is my birthday! The Edge was a Huge part of my life growing up! It will be missed!

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