Life and Revolution on the FM Dial
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 California disk jockey Ladd, the ``Lonesome L.A. Cowboy,'' queues up an all-too-loose history of FM free-form radio, from the rock revolution of the Sixties to the ``classic rock'' stations of the late 1980's. Although he calls this ``a true story based on actual events,'' Ladd has inexplicably changed the names of many of the personalities and radio stations involved, providing only an unannotated general list of the real names. The origins of the ``tribal drum,'' ``the soundtrack of our lives,'' Ladd says, go back to 1967, when ``Big Daddy'' Tom Donahue (apparently not a pseudonym) set up shop in Haight-Ashbury and ``treated the music as an art rather than a product.'' Ladd's own FM history began in Long Beach as a gofer at ``KBRK.'' He soon moved to a network ``format'' station that even in 1969 was highly mechanized and corporate. After syndicating his own program, ``Innerview,'' featuring the likes of John Lennon, Alice Cooper, and the Grateful Dead, he refused an order to give it up and ``defected'' to ``KAOS.'' He was there for 15 years before he was fired for a midnight tirade against ``formula radio'' and his refusal to do ``dentist office music for yuppies.'' Ladd's confrontations with management over running ``commercials for the military,'' the behind-the-scenes glimpse he provides of Patty Hearst, and excerpts from his interviews with Lennon and others provide some fun and interest. And his story of initiating a telephone campaign to the Carter White House to protest the spraying of marijuana with herbicides is a gem. Unfortunately, the good parts are dwarfed by lengthy stretches describing how uptight management could be and how groovy everyone else was--although apparently not groovy enough to use their real names. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 20th, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-05952-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991