The new documentary Radio Daze: Cleveland's FM Air Wars digs up dirt from a time when local radio was so hot, influential and vital that Howard Stern personally visited town to claim a piece of the action.
The two-and-half-hour film is an adaptation of the book Radio Daze: Stories From the Front in Cleveland's FM Air Wars by WMMS 100.7 morning show co-host Mike Olszewski, who wrote, narrated and co-produced the movie. "It tells the story of a lot of stations, a lot of creative people," says Olszewski. He says the FM era was "a harmonic convergence - promotions, people and music. You would have a single day when two or three classic records would be issued."
Covering 1968 through 1994, director Tom Cummings follows the growth of FM radio from ethnic stations like WXEN to influential college stations such as WRUW. Local jocks and behind-the-scenes players past and present -- including 'MMS alums Len "Boom Boom" Goldberg and John Gorman, and 'NCX program director/DJ Bill Louis - recall radio's rise from the underground. Concert promoters Mike Belkin and Henry "Hank" LoConti discuss how stations battled on the air and off.
Eventually, corporate media bought into local stations. In 1992, WNCX began running Howard Stern's syndicated morning show. The story ends in 1994, with a triumphant Stern staging a funeral for his vanquished competition. "When people look back, they'll see a history of radio," says Olszewski. "Not just one or two stations."
Radio Daze is now available on DVD. Western Reserve Media (PBS 45 and 49) will air an abbreviated 90-minute version at 9:30 p.m. Friday, December 5, and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, December 7.
¥ Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach has announced his solo debut, Keep It Hid. He'll branch into country, psychedelia and soul on the disc. The singer-guitarist will also play drums and keyboards. The Keys' label, Nonesuch, will release the album on February 10. Auerbach plays the Beachland Ballroom on Thursday, March 5.
¥ Ripper Watch, Christmas Edition: Tim "Ripper" Owens has contributed a cover of the Elvis chestnut "Santa Claus Is Back in Town" to Armoury Records' We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year. The disc features metal covers of Christmas classics. "Some of these Christmas albums are cheesy," says Owens. "This is a real metal album. They let us be us."
¥ Metal Christmas Continued: The Jigsaw (5324 State Road, Parma) rings hell's sleigh bells all weekend. Friday, December 5, is the Jingle My Balls Benefit for Ronnie James Dio's Children of the Night Foundation. Morality Check and Cellbound headline a free all-ages concert. Dark Arena, Soulless, Metalhead, Stormbringer and others will perform tributes to Dio. Raffle prizes include Cavs tickets, skateboards, books and autographed posters, CDs and DVDs by the bands performing as well as others, including Mushroomhead.
On Saturday, December 6, the Exchange and college stations WRUW, WCSB and WJCU give headbangers another free show. The concert is a showcase of Auburn Records bands. The long-running label has been idle for the second half of 2008, but owner Bill Peters says he plans to relaunch the website this month. Next year will mark the label's 25th anniversary, and releases are planned by bands from the show, including Eternal Legacy, Ground Zero, HATE (featuring Breaker singer Greg Wagner) and Lick the Blade. High-school heshers Lower 13 will also play.