By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
Modern Rock Redux UC Berkeley college radio station KALX-FM (90.7) announced last week that it plans to use the proceeds of its impending on-air fund-raising drive to buy alternative radio giant Live 105 for $30 million. Now, as regular readers of this column know, Riff Raff loves a good hoax, and we laughed like chuckleheaded idiots at the station's phony press release. But there is a point here. Music Director Lawrence Kay says KALX, which began broadcasting on Halloween in 1967, really is doing an on-air fund-raiser Oct. 24 through Nov. 2, and really will try to raise $30 million. ("Why not?" says Kay. "You never know. Millionaires could be listening. ... Ted Turner's giving away money these days.") Kay says KALX already has an agenda for the hostile takeover. "We would deprogram the [Live 105] DJs so they don't sound so boisterous all the time," he says. And KALX will nix the Live 105 slogan "You heard it here first," because KALX listeners know they heard "it" on the college station several years earlier.
Kay says KALX isn't confining the playful nastiness to press releases; the station is already running special recorded spots that incorporate the buyout theme. "We've got one where a Live 105 DJ says, 'And now, another exclusive from Live 105,' and then you hear the KALX DJ knocking on the door and saying, 'Hey can we have our record back? We're doing an oldies show.' "
Raising $30 million during a fund drive and buying out a corporate station are pipe dreams, of course; even if KALX, staffed by more than 200 volunteers, somehow scraped up that huge sum, it still couldn't afford Live 105, which CBS recently bought for a reported $70 million. That purchase, combined with recent shifts in ownership and formatting at KNEW, KMEL, and KSAN -- as is standard, all without any listener input -- inspired the KALX buyout theme.
Besides poking a few holes in Live 105's overinflated ego and keeping listeners entertained during pledge week, Kay says KALX is trying to make a point about ownership of the media. Commercial stations pilfer from college stations like KALX and KUSF, he says, because the college folks take chances on new music. "Without small radio stations," he says, "listeners would be left with a really short playlist." (H.W.)
2B2BDo! Maritime Hall proprietor Boots Hughston thinks his new record company is the perfect synergistic accompaniment to extend his reach into the San Francisco music scene. Last month Hughston and his partners announced the creation of 2B1 Records, which will pump out live recordings from Maritime shows and, Hughston says, eventually release albums by local acts. "The record company has always been a part of the original dream when we opened the Hall," says Hughston. "We just needed time to get things started." 2B1 Records began recording concerts two years ago, first on video and then with a 48-track machine. By contract, the Maritime tapes every performance, but 2B1 has to get permission from both the artists and their record companies in order to make an album. The first release is a live disc recorded at Lee "Scratch" Perry's first U.S. show in 17 years. 2B1 only pressed 2,000 copies, but the label is already gearing up to double the run for the second pressing. Up next: recordings by Yellowman and Frankie Paul and then big plans for the future. Hughston says the ultimate goal is to sign artists and produce studio releases, which could be good news for local bands. "This will come after securing an international distributor, and that's still a little ways off," says Hughston. (R.A.)
It's a Benefit Even though musician and sound engineer Josh Heller sold his Oakland-based studio Guerrilla Euphonics to local jazz wonder Myles Boisen and producer Bart Thurber, he says he's still committed to providing an artist-friendly (read: affordable) studio for San Francisco bands. To that end, he and three partners who share his skills are building an acoustic environment from the bafflers down. Heller says Division Hi-Fi still needs some wiring and a touch more equipment before the 24-track can really hum, so he and his co-founders -- Scott Solter, Desmond Shea, and Alex Nahas -- asked some friends to help out. They have good friends. On Wednesday, Oct. 22, Tarnation's Paula Frazer and smoky goth pianist Jill Tracy will join Nahas' band, Laughing Stock, for a Division Hi-Fi benefit at Hotel Utah. Show up and help save Heller from "scraping and scrounging." A few bucks will get you in, a preamp will probably get you recording time. (J.S.)
Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), Heather Wisner (H.W.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to email@example.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.