Category: Radio

Donna Summer dead at 63; Rush Limbaugh reacts

Donna Summer and Rush Limbaugh. A duo that could have been?

Limbaugh, it turns out, was a big fan of the "Queen of Disco."

Summer, who died Thursday at age 63, is being celebrated from all sectors of the entertainment industry on Twitter, Facebook, TV. Limbaugh's tribute came on his radio show.

PHOTOS: Donna Summer | 1948 - 2012

“It really is sad,” Limbaugh said of the five-time Grammy winner.  “We grew up with Donna Summer.  I met Donna Summer one time and her husband on an airplane.  She and her husband, after the flight took off, came up to me and introduced themselves, and we had a nice conversation.  They were nice as they could be.”

Limbaugh said he played her records often in his early days as a disc jockey and when he was producing Kansas City Royals games.

But even in death Limbaugh chose to see division rather than unison. 

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Ringo Starr live at the Troubadour for Sirius XM Town Hall session

Ringo Starr and Russell Brand at Sirius XM Town Hall session
Ringo Starr held court Monday at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, and even if it was an invitation-only affair for the taping of one of Sirius XM satellite radio’s Town Hall sessions, it offered a rare chance to witness a Beatle in a club setting.

Starr bantered with a pair of co-hosts, first with comedian and fellow Brit Russell Brand, then with producer Don Was. Both helped field questions for the 71-year-old musician from members of the invitation-only audience, some of whom flew in from as far away as New Jersey.

Some came seeking words of wisdom, as in the case of a dad who asked Starr what advice he’d give the man’s young son. “What I’ve always tried to do,” Starr said, “is not tell other people what to do. I just do what I do.”

Others answered the riddle of how interview questions are like men: good ones are hard to find. Several came up with long and convoluted windups that sounded as if they’d been researched deep in the bowels of UCLA’s ethnomusicology department — or perhaps the philosophy department. At times, it took on the flavor of a Starr Trek convention.

One of the more interesting queries came from a drummer who asked how Starr came to use the “matched hand” technique, in which both drumsticks are wrapped tight in the fists, rather than the conventional drum kit style with the right hand stick held more like a dinner fork and the left in the fist.

“I didn’t know any better,” Starr replied unapologetically — then explained that the conventional grip was developed by military and marching band drummers who had to play an instrument that was suspended at their waistline.

Another fan asked whether he regretted that the impromptu “Let It Be” concert on the rooftop of the Abbey Road studio in London, which had taken place exactly 43 years earlier,  turned out to be the Fab Four’s final public performance, rather than a meticulously planned farewell blowout that a popular band might engineer today for its swan song.

“I have no regrets,” he said. He confessed that at the time, the Beatles had toyed with the idea of an exotic performance space, such as an Egyptian pyramid or some other far-flung location, for the concert part of the “Let It Be” documentary. “But then we just decided, ‘Oh let’s just go up to the roof and have done with it.’

“That’s the way we worked a lot of the time: There would be all these grand plans, but in the end it came down to, ‘Let’s just get the job done.’ ”

He said that he’s resisted many offers to write a book and will continue to do so, but that he has tried to share his life story through songs he calls “audio-biographies” on his three latest albums.

After about an hour’s worth of questions and answers, Starr was joined by members of his band for a short set including a couple of Beatles tunes (“I Wanna Be Your Man,” “With A Little Help From My Friends”), vintage solo Ringo (“It Don’t Come Easy”) and, not coincidentally, “Wings” from his brand-new “Ringo 2012” album, which was released today.

He was joined onstage by guest guitarist Joe Walsh, who became Starr's brother-in-law in 2008 upon marrying Marjorie Bach, the sister of Starr's wife, actress Barbara Bach.  Both women cheered their husbands on from their seats in the Troubadour's balcony.

He noted during the Q&A that he plans to put together another edition of the Ringo Starr All-Starr Band to tour this summer, but said he wouldn't talk about the personnel lineup yet.

The session aired live Monday, but will is being repeated today at 3 p.m. Pacific time, Wednesday at 9 a.m., Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Spectrum, Sirius XM Channel 28.

He's also making album release-week appearances tonight on CBS-TV's "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" and Wednesday night on NBC-TV's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien." Then on Feb. 12, he'll be a presenter at the Grammy Awards ceremony.


Lifetime roll

Album review: Ringo Starr's 'Ringo 2012'

Ringo Starr and Make-A-Wish: A teenage drummer gets to meet the Beatle

--Randy Lewis

Photo: Russell Brand, left, and Ringo Starr at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. Credit: Rob Shanahan.

Tom Petty & Heartbreakers add second show for KCSN-FM benefit* (Updated)

Tom Petty Tom Petty

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers will play a second small-scale show this weekend at a 500-seat theater in Northridge as a benefit for public radio station KCSN-FM (88.5).

“The reaction has been insane,” KCSN program director Sky Daniels told Pop & Hiss over the weekend, referring to the initial Oct. 29 show Petty and the band announced last week as a fundraiser during the station’s fall pledge drive. Pairs of tickets were being offered to callers who pledged $150 or more during random “cue to call” announcements on the air. “30 callers for every pair [from] all over the globe," Daniels wrote in an e-mail. "People are pledging from Norway, Canada, Boston, Orlando, etc. -- all willing to fly here to see Tom in this small setting.”

Update Oct. 25 at 12:37 p.m: An earlier version of this post gave the date of the first Tom Petty show as Oct. 28. It is Saturday, Oct. 29.

The second show will take place Oct. 30 in the 500-seat Performance Theater at Cal State Northridge. Tickets for the second show were largely distributed over the weekend during additional “cue to call” announcements, but orchestra pit tickets will continue to be available via an auction  running through 5 p.m. Tuesday on the station’s website.

“For them to selflessly want to perform this show speaks volumes for their love of music, and their willingness to support KCSN's effort to build a radio station devoted to breaking new artists, supporting local artists and respecting great legacy artists,” Daniels said in a statement. “Tom and the Heartbreakers recognized the overwhelming demand and wanted to give more fans a chance to see them in this intimate hall, as well as help KCSN and public radio."

In addition to the Petty concerts, KCSN's pledge drive is auctioning off autographed guitars signed by superstar acts including U2, Mick Jagger, Coldplay, Bob Seger, Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge.


Tiny KCSN attracts rock's A-list

Tom Petty on lending a hand to underdog radio station KCSN-FM

Tom Petty's got his 'Mojo' working

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Tom Petty during a 2008 performance with the Heartbreakers at the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Los Angeles Times. 

Tom Petty on lending a hand to underdog radio station KCSN-FM* [Updated]

Tom Petty Tom Petty

“Even the losers,” Tom Petty sang in his 1979 song by that title, “get lucky sometimes.”

That tune could become a theme song at radio station KCSN-FM (88.5) at Cal State Northridge, where Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Petty, a longtime champion of underdogs of every stripe, and his band the Heartbreakers will play at an Oct. 29 benefit for which tickets will be sold as part of the  station’s fall pledge drive.

Tiny KCSN lost federal funding last year because it wasn’t able to meet minimum fundraising requirements set by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Enter a new program director, radio industry veteran Sky Daniels, who has landed Petty to play the benefit show, and also has lined up some primo donations from U2, Coldplay, Mick Jagger, Sheryl Crow and others as outlined in a story appearing in Thursday’s Calendar section.

“I feel like they’re the underdog in this,” Petty told me Tuesday. “They’re trying to do something different and that means a lot."

Daniels, who championed Petty’s music early on, said he’s trying to build KCSN into a station with a broad-based format closer to the way FM radio existed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, where formats were less rigidly compartmentalized than they are on today’s commercial stations. A big emphasis, he said, will be discovering and developing new talent: “To find the next Tom Petty and evangelize for that artist to the Los Angeles market,” is how Daniels put it in his open letter seeking Petty’s support. “And to continue to evangelize the new music of artists like you. Who else will in L.A.?”

The idea clearly struck a chord with Petty, who quickly agreed to be part of the show in the university's 500-seat Performance Theater. Tickets will be offered up during the pledge drive that starts Friday. (Details are available at the station’s website.)

“I come from a time when young musicians knew that new music could be heard on the radio,” said Petty, who also has his own satellite radio show, "Buried Treasure," each week on Sirius XM. “Now there is college radio, but even that’s gotten a bit predictable. Public radio is about the only thing left -- the last man standing.”

He was echoing one of the key themes in his 2002 album “The Last DJ,” in which he raged against the dying of the light in the record and radio industries, but also held out hope for better days.

“For them to try to go forward with this concept of playing new music is great,” he said. “There’s a lot of great new music still being made. So we look forward to playing this show. We like to play small theaters -- I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Update Oct. 13 at 6:17 p.m.: An earlier version of this post  referred to the reissue of Petty's first two albums in conjunction with National Record Store Day in 2012.  They were reissued last spring for the 2011 event.

Tiny KCSN radio station attracts star power

KCSN to air 'smart rock'

Tom Petty's got his 'Mojo' working

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Tom Petty at his home in Malibu in 2010. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times.

KCRW holiday concerts slated for Dec. 2, 3 at the Orpheum

Sam Beam-Iron & Wine 
KCRW-FM (89.9) has enlisted a cadre of acts that have been championed on its airwaves for a pair of holiday shows Dec. 2 and 3 at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles to help support the station’s programming costs.

The Dec. 2 lineup is topped by reggae star Jimmy Cliff, and also includes pop singer Brett Dennen, world music group Fool’s Gold, psychedelic-funk band White Denim, Oklahoma chamber pop group Other Lives and L.A. singer-songwriter Mia Doi Todd.

The following night’s show will feature headliner Iron & Wine, L.A. indie pop band the Belle Brigade, English rock-noir singer-songwriter-guitarist Anna Calvi, Malaysian pop singer Zee Avi and retro country-folk duo the Secret Sisters.

“When envisioning a holiday concert to celebrate KCRW, I wanted to bring it back to basics and create an event that resonated with the spirit of the season,” station music director and “Morning Becomes Eclectic” host Jason Bentley said in a statement.

Tickets will be $55 to $200 and go on sale Tuesday to KCRW subscribers at, and a week later to the general public.


Five ways for indie musicians to get their songs played on KCRW

KCRW manager plans to sign off

Nic Harcourt: KCRW misrepresented my departure

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Sam Beam, lead singer of Iron & Wine, during a concert in January at Los Angeles' Wiltern Theatre. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

'Latin Alternative' on KCSN gives Latino music a new accent

Ernesto Lechner, Josh Norek   Latino and Latin American music audiences in L.A. have no trouble finding chart-topping artists such as Shakira, Pitbull or Mana on their radio dial. But there are far fewer places to tune in to the likes of more alternative acts such as Café Tacuba, Zoe, Ximena Sarinana, Ozomatli and Aterciopelados.

Now there's at least one more: "The Latin Alternative," the 2-week-old program of cutting-edge Spanish-accented music, from neo-funk to cumbia-laced electronica, airing on Cal State Northridge's radio station KCSN-FM (88.5) on Thursday nights from 9 to 10 p.m. The station bills the new program as the first nationally syndicated public radio show that focuses on Latin alternative music but is hosted in English.

The show, which now airs on 16 public radio stations across the country, is co-hosted by Josh Norek, a co-founder of the Latin Alternative Music Conference and frontman of the group Hip Hop Hoodíos, and Ernesto Lechner, author of the book "Rock en Español: The Latin Alternative Rock Explosion," and a journalist who contributes to the Los Angeles Times.

In some ways, the program's arrival is long overdue. Los Angeles is home to the largest Latino population in the United States, and several Spanish-language stations here are among the region's top rated in any format. Southern California also is home to a cosmopolitan cadre of English-speaking listeners who are devotees of progressive Latin music.

But the majority of big local commercial stations hew to playlists that are heavy on pop superstars or else traditional regional ranchera and musica norteña

"We've always believed there's a bigger market" for stations that specialize in contemporary Latin sub-genres, says Norek, who grew up in Albany, N.Y. (where "The Latin Alternative" also airs). "It was not easy being the one Latin alternative fan in upstate New York," says Norek, who now makes his home in Northern California and periodically commutes to L.A. to tape his show with Lechner.

Norek says that part of their program's purpose is to provide context to the music they play for listeners whose first language may not be Spanish. That might mean explaining a song's lyrical wordplay or decoding its references to current events. "Music there is far more politically conscious than most music you’ll hear here," he says.

Sky Daniels, KCSN's program director, says the new program complements other shows recently added at the station, including one hosted by Nic Harcourt, who formerly helmed the mike for KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic."

"We incorporate a lot of new music because as a noncommercial station I certainly don't have the musical pressures that my brethren have," says Daniels, adding that he hopes to gradually incorporate even more Latin music in the station's other programming.

Norek describes his and Lechner's musical tastes as broadly compatible. "When I first met him it was just like a brother from another mother," he says. "We still have differences of opinion at times, but it’s a polite debate."


'Travel Tips for Aztlan' rides cutting-edge of Latin radio

'¡Viva Mexico!' celebrates the many forms of Mexican music

Latino pop-rock is the best of many worlds 

-- Reed Johnson

Photo: "Latin Alternative" co-hosts Ernesto Lechner (left), Josh Norek. Credit: Josh Norek.

Beatles radio show host Chris Carter hits 10-year mark on Sept. 4

Beatles radio show host Chris Carter hits 10-year mark on Sept. 4
“Breakfast With the Beatles” host Chris Carter will mark his 10th anniversary at the helm during Sunday’s edition of the long-running radio show on KLOS-FM (95.5), for which he'll be joined by Buddy Holly’s widow, Maria Elena Holly.

Carter took over in September 2001 after the death of the show’s original host, Deirdre O’Donoghue, and subsequently expanded the program beyond the original studio group and solo recordings that O’Donoghue played each week.  Now, the show routinely features outtakes, alternate mixes and Beatles material as performed by a wide array of other musicians. Three years ago, the show joined the lineup on Little Steven's Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM Radio, and in April, Carter notched his 500th "Breakfast With the Beatles" show.

Carter also has hosted visits from and interviews with many Beatles-world figures, including surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr; the group's longtime producer, George Martin; John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono; George Harrison’s widow, Olivia, and their son, Dhani; former Beatles drummer Pete Best; keyboardist Billy Preston; engineer Geoff Emerick; Tom Petty; Brian Wilson; members of the satirical Beatles comedy group the Rutles; and numerous others.

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Former Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn speaks -- and spins -- on KCSN-FM show

Robert Hilburn and Keith Richards 
Former L.A. Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn will launch his new weekly radio show on KCSN-FM (88.5) on Sunday at 6 p.m. with a program of musical discovery.

The initial "Rock n Roll Times with Robert Hilburn" show will highlight artists who either sparked Hilburn’s passion for music early on or for whom, during nearly four decades covering pop music for The Times, he became an early advocate.

“The first song I'm going to play is ‘Baby, Let's Play House’ by Elvis,” Hilburn told me this week. “It's the record that made me fall in love with rock enough to write about it for 35 years at The Times.... I was getting ready to go to school at high school one morning when I heard it and wham: the youthful voice, the independence, the sense of freedom, the great guitar licks by Scotty Moore.”

Robert Hilburn portrait-LAT From there he plans to take listeners along to revisit what he describes as “favorite moments of discovery: the first night on the job (as a full-time pop critic) ... seeing Kris Kristofferson and thinking he was a modern, young Hank Williams. Then two months later seeing Elton John and thinking he could be the biggest pop star in the world, then a year later John Prine and thinking he was going to be the next Dylan (smile). Well, he did become a great, great writer.”

Other artists he’ll cover include Emmylou Harris, Al Green, Public Enemy, Kanye West, White Stripes and — to the surprise of no one who encountered his many references to the two acts he probably championed more than any others over the years — Bruce Springsteen and U2.

Since retiring from The Times in 2006, Hilburn has been focusing on writing books. His first, “Corn Flakes With John Lennon (And Other Tales from a Rock ‘N’ Roll Life),” was published in 2009, and now he’s researching a cultural biography of Johnny Cash. The first batch of shows will be prerecorded to accommodate his research, but eventually he said he hopes to do some live and take listener requests.

On the appeal of taking on the radio show, he said, “One of my great frustrations for 35 years at the paper was the fact I couldn't play a record for the reader when I was writing about an artist.

“How can you describe the beauty of Emmylou Harris' voice without hearing it, the sensual lilt of a Duane Allman guitar solo without actually hearing it or the growl of Johnny Rotten without hearing it?" he said. "With the Internet today, it is possible to do some mixed media things where you can write about an artist and link to a song or video by that artist. But that was unheard of in the  years I was at the paper. So I secretly yearned to have a radio show.”

In future shows, Hilburn said he plans to highlight artists who he thinks have been underappreciated, such as David Bowie ("Lady Gaga with real songs and an original persona"), to spotlight albums shelved or long delayed by record companies, great songs from the disco era and "the 10 songs that established rap as an art form."

Hilburn's show is part of an expansion of the Cal State Northridge-based station's adult album alternative (AAA) format under new program director Sky Daniels, who also has brought in former KCRW-FM deejay and music director Nic Harcourt, whose new show launches Saturday at 3 p.m., and another former Times staffer, Kevin Bronson, who brings his Buzz Bands column-turned-blog highlighting local music to KCSN on Sundays from midnight to 1 a.m. Monday.

“The idea is to have fun, but celebrate musical excellence,” Hilburn said, “in all styles of music, all generations. I want to reach listeners who went through the last 40 years of music with me and those who are curious about the music that changed the culture.”


KCSN to air 'smart rock'

Nic Harcourt: KCRW misrepresented my departure

In My Life: Robert Hilburn's 'Corn Flakes With John Lennon'

-- Randy Lewis

Photos, from top: Robert Hilburn interviewing Rolling Stones guitarist and songwriter Keith Richards. (credit:; Hilburn in later years (Los Angeles Times).

Springsteen, Van Zandt salute E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons

Clarence Clemons memorial Tenth Ave-E Street-Bill SwenartonE Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt will salute his late bandmate, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, on his Sirius XM Radio channel on Friday.

The two-hour special on Little Steven's Underground Garage channel will start at 4 p.m. Pacific time (7 p.m. Eastern) and will cover Clemons' storied career playing alongside Bruce Springsteen in concert and in the recording studio, as well as his outings apart from the E Street Band.

The latter includes his prominent part on Aretha Franklin’s Grammy-winning 1985 hit “Freeway of Love,” his duet the same year with Jackson Browne “You Are a Friend of Mine,” and a collaboration with Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter on “All of the Good Ones Are Taken.”

Van Zandt also plans to incorporate interview segments with Clemons and audio excerpts from  movie and TV appearances he made, such as in “New York, New York,” “Diff'rent Strokes” and “The Wire.”

Clemons died at age 69 on June 18, six days after suffering a stroke at his home in Florida. A few days after his death, Springsteen delivered a eulogy at a private service for Clemons, and in it he hinted that the E Street Band will find a way to continue:

My pal was a tough act but he brought things into your life that were unique, and when he turned on that love light, it illuminated your world.  I was lucky enough to stand in that light for almost 40 years, near Clarence's heart, in the Temple of Soul....

"C" always knew how to live. Long before Prince was out of his diapers, an air of raunchy mysticism ruled in the Big Man's world. I'd wander in from my dressing room, which contained several fine couches and some athletic lockers, and wonder what I was doing wrong! Somewhere along the way all of this was christened the Temple of Soul; and "C" presided smilingly over its secrets, and its pleasures. Being allowed admittance to the Temple's wonders was a lovely thing. ...

Clarence doesn't leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die.

So, I'll miss my friend, his sax, the force of nature his sound was, his glory, his foolishness, his accomplishments, his face, his hands, his humor, his skin, his noise, his confusion, his power, his peace. But his love and his story, the story that he gave me, that he whispered in my ear, that he allowed me to tell ... and that he gave to you ... is gonna carry on. ...

I won't say goodbye to my brother, I'll simply say, see you in the next life, further on up the road, where we will once again pick up that work, and get it done.

The full text of what’s described as “a slightly revised version” of the eulogy has been posted on Springsteen's website.


Clarence Clemons dies at 69: saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band

An appreciation: Clarence Clemons

Clarence Clemons' five best saxophone solos with the E Street Band

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: A memorial to Clarence Clemons at the intersection of 10th Avenue and E Street in Belmar, N.J., the day after the E Street Band saxophonist died. Credit: Bill Swenarton

Bob Dylan turns 70: 'I'm younger than that now'

Bob Dylan 2009-Kevin Winter Getty Images Bob Dylan 1965 Sony Music Entertainment Inc


Somehow, a chorus of “Happy Birthday” just doesn’t cut it for Bob Dylan, the Poet Laureate of his generation, today as he hits the milestone of 70. First and foremost, Bob didn’t write it.

Not surprisingly, the momentous occasion is being observed in many quarters. Rolling Stone magazine has devoted the cover of its latest issue to him, for a story listing the 70 greatest Bob Dylan songs as selected.

Tonight at the Grammy Museum here in Los Angeles, author and historian Sean Wilentz (“Bob Dylan in America”) and journalist-author Mikal Gilmore will lead a musical and philosophical exploration of Dylan’s legacy following a screening of Murray Lerner’s documentary “The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965."

And—gulp!—AARP magazine, the publication of the American Assn. of Retired Persons, also has a Dylan cover piece in which the editors coaxed Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Judy Collins, Mavis Staples and Martin Scorsese into writing a few words in recognition of their peer/hero and/or friend.

Not to be outdone, Pop & Hiss views the occasion as a chance to offer up a salutary bonus episode of Dylan’s brilliant radio series, “Theme Time Radio Hour.” Number-conscious guy that he is, Dylan signed on with XM (now Sirius XM) satellite radio and delivered exactly 100 shows from 2006-2009, each devoted to a broad swath of songs reflecting a given theme, such as the Devil, Christmas, Cadillacs, Jail. Then it was time for he and those famous boot heels to be wanderin’. (TTRH had still been part of the Sirius XM lineup in reruns until, ironically, this month. It’s been taken off the air to make room for the Earle Bailey show.)

So with all humility, here’s a chronologically organized playlist of 70 minutes’ worth of Dylan songs spanning nearly 50 years, songs that reference various facets of age, a topic that’s surfaced repeatedly in his music over the decades: birth, death, youth, maturity, fate, heaven, hell, existentialism, spirituality, generational differences, paradise, past, present and future.

The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964, from the album "The Times They Are A-Changin’" ) (3:12)

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

My Back Pages (1964, "Another Side of Bob Dylan") (4:23)

Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

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