Bon Jovi’s induction brings back radio memories
It was a Hall of Fame weekend in New Jersey- with Bruce showing up at the Paramount Theatre Sunday night as his friend Steven Van Zandt went in and with HBO showing Bon Jovi being inducted in Cleveland, along with the Moody Blues, Dire Straits, and the Cars.
I bring these acts up because I felt a particular connection with this year's group. They came from the era when I was playing rock on the radio, starting at WPST where I hosted the morning show, then moving onto WYSP.
Rock radio was much different then. There was no Internet, so much of the access the fans had to these bands was from the jocks who also had access to the bands when they came to town.
I remember meeting Jon Bon Jovi when he rang the bell at WYSP and introduced himself while I was on the air. We talked about our love for the Giants while we waited for our music director to arrive. We talked about them some more at the record release party for 7800 Fahrenheit, and at a private concert he did for our listeners at a place called "Bratz" in Cherry Hill.
I remember sitting in the press box at the Spectrum when the Cars played and everyone went backstage afterwards. I sat in the 4th row when Eric Clapton performed with Mark Knopfler, what an incredible show!
It seemed to me that the period from 1980-87 was the end of active rock because when "Classic Rock" was born, everything became an oldie. I'm lucky enough to have came in and played rock at that time. It was so much different while it was happening.
As I watched the Hall of Fame induction and listened to Jon recall his early days, I remembered what it was like on the radio end. It was a time when promoters would call each other from the lobbies of competing radio stations to make sure each morning man got the new album at the exact same time. It was each station playing a recorded "world premier" over that song so that the listeners knew where they heard it first.
This was followed by each station calling the same show their "concert event" and trying to make each show their own. Things like "ticket upgrade" where if you were spotted by a station bringing a banner to the show with their call letters on it, you were upgraded to the front row. Ticket upgrade got bigger when the banners were being hung outside windows throughout the city and the station van was sent out looking for them.
It was also a time when all the listeners knew all the jocks and would actively come out to events to support us and trash our competition. You would have loved the radio wars.
So as I watched the induction, I was reminiscing about all this to my 11 year old sons. They listened, rolled their eyes, and said "that's great dad, can we go play football now?"
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