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Meanwhile, out on How are records selected for performance? A station’s program director makes available to his disk jockeys a list of songs or a selection formula with which the DJ then works. The list is often no more than 25 to 50 songs, hence the “Top 40” format. The titles are usually culled from trade magazine top 100 singles charts and LP listings. If a station is a chain affiliate, its record choices may be subject to the decision of a national program director. 6 The result of such a monolithic system is that key stations in major markets across the country turn on to the same songs at about the same time. Smaller stations in the same markets as trend-setters frequently adopt the leaders’ formats; eventually, stations in outlying cities and towns fall in line, too. This cycle perpetuates a system that places selection of new music in the control of a few people and leaves little leeway for an offbeat, locally inspired record to slip onto the airwaves. Rarely does a station’s management opt for a new musical mix as KOKE-FM did in Austin a few years ago when it pioneered the “progressive country” sound. \(See Carolyn Allen’s book review on page 24 In sum: It is not just the music industry’s size and rate of growth that should bother ar 6. At least five large radio chain operations own stations in Texas. Gordon McLendon started the move with his flagship station in Dallas, KLIF, and built up a total of 14. The FCC limits any one chain entity to seven AM and seven FM licenses. McLendon’s chain has bought and sold many stations since the days when it owned one each in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso simultaneously. Fairchild now owns KLIF; Time-Life, KVIL in Dallas; Lynn, KILT-AM and FM in Houston; and ABC, KXYZ in Houston. The big regional news is that Harte-Hanks, the Corpus Christi-based newspaper chain, has just paid $60 million for Southern Broadcasting, a large radio group with stations across the There is a tendency among big chains to give stations the freedom they need to be more responsive to their home cities. At the same time, the most significant new trend in radio is toward syndication and automated programming. Organizations like Dallas’s TM Productions, Drake-Chenault and Shulke of California, and at least six other U.S. firms furnish more than 200 stations each with entire, dawn-to-dusk formats. With 90 percent of all broadcast music originating from the recording centers of Los Angeles, Nashville or New York, a locally produced record, cut on inferior equipment and by relatively unsophisticated studio technicians, usually does not have big-time sound quality and is thus unlikely to be aired because it sounds “funky” or “local” when placed alongside of material pressed in L.A. or prepackaged by a syndication/automated programming outfit. 8 APRIL 14, 1978 By Joe Nick Patoski Fort Worth, Beaumont, San Antonio Down on the street, there are no promoters, record executives, and million dollar contracts. There are, however, thousands of pickers, crooners, and showmen toiling on the moonlight shift without benefit of legal advice, a media blitz, and college education in corporate rock politics. They might mistake BMI and ASCAP for new social service agencies, but just like Elton John, they, too, etch a living out of their art. The business of music is very real to Curley “Barefoot” Miller. Once or twice a week he hops the bus from Dallas across the turnpike to my favorite Fort Worth juke joint, the New Blue Bird Nite Club, where he knows the customers appreciate professional risque blues comedy. On a jam-packed Saturday night, he makes $20; less than that when he has to. But Barefoot accepts his lot fatalistically: “Sometimes I get bus fare back home. Sometimes I don’t.” The money is important. The only other way he supports his family is washing dishes. But the passion to entertain comes before all other considerations. In a typical 45-minute set, Barefoot sings a couple songs, tells a dirty joke, tickles the piano keys for a few fast shuffles, cracks some one-liners, and tap dances on an overturned Coke crate while reeling off more jokes. I like the one where he’s sitting in bed waiting for his girlfriend to join him: “She comes in and takes off her wig and puts it on the dresser. Then she takes out her teeth and puts them on the dresser. She takes off her brassiere and everything else and puts them on the dresser. Then she gets into bed. I jump on the dresser!” If the crowd doesn’t laugh, he’ll pause a vaudeville minute, then cackle, “Y’all didn’t get it, but she sure did!” Barefoot warms up: “Sometimes I get bus fare back home. Sometimes I don’t.” 4fm o..44010