Dancing About Architecture

Jammin' To the Oldies

I remember it as though it were only yesterday, but in truth it was nearly a week ago. Thanksgiving Day, not yet on my way to the family hoedown for the holiday weekend, sitting in front of the tube, I saw it: an ad for the new "Jammin' Oldies" station on Austin's FM radio dial. "Hmmm, someone had to change format, since there's no loose frequencies available," I thought, but I'd already consumed enough tryptophan-laced turkey so that the number 105.9 beaming from my 35'' Magnavox failed to ring a bell. It was only later when 101Xer and fellow Chronicle snoop Andy Langer snickered, "Have you heard?" that it all became instantly clear: KFMK-FM, aka "The Planet," the new "modern rock" station that Capstar Broadcasting Corporation unveiled in late July, had already seen the same fate as Superman's home world of Krypton and was now little more than a forgotten asteroid belt. The Planet, you recall, gained much ink over the fact that its launching resulted in a great shuffling of local radio personnel, with several key voices from direct competitor 101X opting for jobs with Capstar over their current situations. With the Planet more of a comet, come and gone in what may be record time, some insiders are chuckling that its appearance may have been the ultimate loyalty test for local radio personnel -- and a number of them failed royally.

"The decision [to originally target the Modern Rock crowd] was made because rock is a fun format," says publicist Lisa Dollinger, citing Capstar President and CEO Steve Hicks as personally being enthusiastic about the Planet's possibilities. Well, if Dollinger had said that a few months ago, I wouldn't have been even mildly surprised about the sudden format change, having never, ever previously heard the word "fun" in a sentence regarding the formatting of a corporate-owned radio station. The change to Jammin' Oldies was made for the obvious reason, of course: money. "We saw a ceiling to the growth of the [Modern Rock] format because of the competition in the market," says Dollinger, and ongoing market research begun months ago showed definite possibilities for the funky Jammin' format. "Swift" is the word she uses to describe the results once the surveying had made its point. The format change took place the day before Thanksgiving, and Dollinger says it was only a week before that a logo had been put together and shipped off to the production house where the television commercial was made. Former 101Xer turned Planeteer turned Jammer "L.A." Lloyd Hocutt says he wasn't told of the decision until the day of the change, though he was aware of the possibility. He and fellow ex-Xer Rachel Marisay still have jobs waiting at the new station (Dollinger confirms this), but decisions have yet to be made as to how much of the station's output will show off its local DJ talent. Local soul oldies channel The Juice (KJCE-AM 1370) and, of course, KEYI 103.5FM would seem to be the closest competition for the new Jammin' Oldies, but Dollinger says the existence of that station did not factor into the decision to go with the new format. Juice Program Director Stan Main seemed nonplussed by 105.9's presence, saying that the AM station remains viable, largely due to its distinctive personality (and on-air personalities). Time will tell how much personality the new station has and how well the young, rock-oriented 101X refugees will fit in, but as far as the possibility of Hocutt and Marisay returning to their former home, 101X's Sara Trexler says she hasn't recieved any calls yet and doesn't expect to be getting any in the near future. As far as the Planet in general, Trexler gracefully offers them "the best of luck -- with any station that isn't in competition with ours."


Lucinda's Limits

There's not much doubt that over at the LBJ-S Broadcasting building, folks are happy to be rid of the Planet. This gives them that much more free brain cells to think about the big KGSR bash this Friday. "We're just proud that we've made it eight years," says KGSR Program Director Jody Denberg. "Let's hope we make it eight more." If you ain't already got a ticket, just turn on the radio at 7:30pm that night to hear the show broadcast live starting with Patti Griffin and continuing through with Bruce Hornsby, "Special Guest" (you already know who), and Lucinda Williams. Williams herself, a mutual friend tells me, doesn't have any big "special guest" appearances of her own planned (and she won't be staying at the Austin Motel this visit, which is bad news for South Congress merchants), but of course this week also marks her Austin City Limits retake, wherein she's teamed with a Hornsby taping to save expenses. ACL is keeping busy in the (not particularly) cold weather, with the Mexican Roots Celebration (featuring Los Super Seven) and Fastball also taping shows this month as the PBS flagship program builds up for its 25th season..

Williams, by the way, has been deemed eligible for a Best New Artist nomination in this year's Grammy awards, despite the fact that her first album came out in 1979 (the same year as some really jammin' oldies!). Since her latest album is expected to be on every critic's "Best of 1998" list this year, that bodes ill for actual newcomers like Fastball and Sean Lennon. Actually, Lauryn Hill, who is up for her second (!) Best New Artist nod -- the first was in 1996 -- is expected to take the trophy.


Some Day, Like Yesterday

Did you see Monte Warden's first video for Asylum Records yet? No? Just thought you might've, since Wednesday was the date that the clip for his song "Some Day" was going to be available for rotation on the usual country television suspects TNN and CMT, as well as the Austin Music Network. Warden's major label album won't be in stores until March 9 ("An Austin artist putting out an album around South by Southwest?" gasps Warden in mock horror. "Imagine that!"), but the single will be released to radio sometime right after the first of the year. In addition to the local country singer-songwriter having the good fortune of his former publicist of 10 years, Evelyn Shriver,becoming the boss of a major label and choosing him as her first signing, Warden actually has two videos in the can already because of a label decision to switch the order of the first two singles after what would have been the first video was already shot. Warden has not been left completely unscathed by the switcheroo; he's glad that he had time to buff up in the gym for the second (now first) video and looks the picture of rosy health in the "Some Day" clip, but fears when the first (now second) video is released, people will think he's started letting himself go to pot. As far as the album's content, the singer warns, "This is not your daddy's Monte Warden record. It's definitely not a happy-go-lucky album." Written and recorded in the aftermath of Warden's recent divorce, one popular musician friend of his, upon first hearing the material, reportedly declared, "Damn! Why didn't you just call it 'My Ex-Wife's a [expletive deleted]!'"


Losing Your Lunch?

Don't panic now, but you might want to keep your eye on cable channel 6, the City Council's access channel, because Thursday (today) might just decide the future of Liberty Lunch. The council could decide as soon as today to vote on whether to sell the lot the Lunch is located on to the CSC computer software company. Note that they may choose not to do so, that they may choose to vote against the sale, and that even if they vote for it, the Lunch might not be shut down and demolished for a few more years as the development awaits the resolution of other factors. However, a map in Tuesday's Statesman shows that the club is now definitely in the path of the steamrollers, if and when they come.


Marathon AMN

The new Austin Music Network leads up to its for-real debut this weekend with a programming move that is ambitious, to say the least. From midnight to midnight Saturday-Sunday, AMN (still located on cable channel 15) plans to host a 24-hour marathon live concert featuring approximately 100 local acts. Broadcasting from the MPA Studios at Seventh and Trinity, AMN plans to run short (around 15 minutes) live sets from a sea of acts including Joe Ely, Derailers, Sixteen Deluxe, Flaco Jimenez, MC Overlord, Don Walser, Godzilla Motor Company, and literally dozens of others on this, the last day before their "dress rehearsal" ends and they're fully accountable for their veejays' actions. Public Relations Director Jim Ellinger admits that the marathon (which is expected to run long and, by the way, is not still looking for bands, so don't call) has much potential to go haywire. "Like for instance," he poses, "how are you gonna get Doug Sahm or Kinky Friedman off the stage if they don't wanna go?"


Mixed Notes

Swine King reunites this Saturday at Liberty Lunch, opening for Lord Douglas Phillips and Sixteen Deluxe. Be sure and go so Darcee Douglas, member of the first two bands and champion wrestler, doesn't have to bodyslam anyone in a pool of their own blood...

The Alamo Draft House presents the latest in their popular series of silent movies and eclectic live accompaniment tonight (12/10) with a greatly expanded Golden Arm Trio interpreting Battleship Potemkin; future plans include Guy Forsyth teamed with Buster Keaton's The General...

Galapagos have a release party for their new Mandarine CD at the Mercury tonight (Thursday), while the Sandblasters release their Cactus Stingraydisc with an in-store at ABCD's this Saturday at 2pm...

Daniel Johnston has been added to the bill for the Horsies' final show ever this Friday at the Electric Lounge. That appearance could serve as a single release for his new, limited edition 7'' on UK label Pickled Egg...

Blondies has a free show this Friday with Horseshit Gunfireand Excess Lettuce, as well as their usual Saturday madness, this week featuring Ant Man Bee,Glowforce, and Fivehead...

And you thought MMW stood for Medeski, Martin & Wood. Try McConaughey's Money Wouldn't. The actor and 10 of his closest friends tried to scam their way into the MMW show at Liberty Lunch last Sunday, first for free, then at a discount, but were rebuffed by Lunch staff, who asked if the party also tried to get a discount on eggs at H.E.B. because they were buying a dozen. Look, Matthew, I know it's not the money. I know getting in free is a status thing, but when you've got the money, so is dropping a couple of C-notes at a local club...

-- Contributors: Michael Bertin, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser

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More Dancing About Architecture
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The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

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