Like most fans of rock and roll, I have become so frustrated by the current state of commercial rock and roll radio that I have embraced the alternatives now available with a passion that repays me in spades. Whether it be non-commercial public and community radio, Internet radio, MP3 Blogs or podcasts the options are out there for those of us who are looking to reconnect with the power of that disembodied voice feeding our brains with great music coupled with insightful and entertaining commentary. Despite the current popularity of the iPod and its ilk, radio done well that is put together by knowledgeable people who love rock and roll is infinitely better than listening to your iPod on shuffle. The problem is that because people either don’t know what is available out there or have become so disenchanted with radio that they don’t care makes the iPod option seem way better then listening to more of the same corporate branded "modern rock" drivel. While there are pockets of excellence on the commercial rock and roll radio band (and I have no problem applauding and supporting them) the vast majority of it is quite simply formulaic crap. Sunday night while listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage, one of the rare commercial programs that is not only good but in fact rock and roll radio done right, Little Steven’s "freak of the week" was none other than the man who pretty much single-handedly started "progressive" FM rock radio, Tom Donahue. This got me to thinking about one of the other potential bright lights on the commercial rock and roll radio horizon, Moonlight Groove Highway that I profiled back in November. In order to get an update on the status of Moonlight Groove Highway, I talked to two of the principles behind the new show to see what their goals were and when they might be getting the show started. What I heard made me excited about commercial rock and roll radio again.
Rick Szekelyi and the legendary Raechel Donahue are looking to bring the art of quality rock and roll radio back to the medium. Their concept is to harken back to what made radio on stations like KSAN great yet updated with a contemporary twist that will keep things relevant to rock and roll today. Hosted by Raechel Donahue, Moonlight Groove Highway will devote six hours a night, seven days a week to "highlighting the evolution and current developments of America’s most important cultural contribution – rock music." Together with co-hosts Ben Fong-Torres of Rolling Stone magazine, Cleveland rock pioneer David Spero, legendary British radio pirate Gavin Scott, blues expert Dusty Street and San Francisco’ rock radio personality Lobster, Moonlight Groove Highway plans to blend the personal rock experiences and anecdotes of the hosts (something that would be fascinating even without the music!) with special features, stories and guests into exciting thematic programming, all done live. And if you think that this will merely be an oldies show you can check that hat at the door. Moonlight Groove Highway will blend "heritage rock cuts with carefully selected contemporary music presented in the context of artist interviews, historical perspectives and current news." In addition to great music, Moonlight Groove Highway will present special features like:
- News You Can Dance To (amusing rock news with a beat)
- Classic Conversations
- This Day in History with Ace Young
- Legends of the Hall (short historical bios of Rock Hall inductees surrounding their best known hits)
- Rarities (highlights of archival interviews and stories) and
- Sounds From the Road (news and stories from today’s touring artists)
Moonlight Groove Highway will debut February 12th, 2005 on the following stations:
- WDMT FM – Pittston, PA
- WCOO FM – Kiawah Island, SC
- KIQX FM – Durango, CO
- KKDC FM – Dolores, CO
- KLZZ FM – Waite Park, MN
The plan is to start small and get the teething pains worked out while building a viable terrestrial broadcast network and spreading the Moonlight Groove Highway rock and roll gospel wherever and however they can. The fact they they are broadcasting from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will only serve to increase their exposure so that this initial list of stations should grow quickly once the word gets out. If this is the kind of radio that you would like to hear then contact your local station and tell them about Moonlight Groove Highway and get them on board. Late night rock and roll radio has an aura all of its own and when you look at the people behind this show, you can’t help but get excited at the possibilities and potential Moonlight Groove Radio has ahead of it. If you always wished that you could experience the FM radio of the late ’60s and early ’70s brought up to date for today then I think this is your best bet and something that you might just want to check out. I know I will.