JOCK RAP

AN EXIT INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN L.

NT: Any last thoughts on the Phoenix radio market? L.: I'm not going to comment on Phoenix radio because Phoenix radio always changes. It's in constant evolution. One year you're gonna have more Top 40 stations. One year there will be four or five easy-listening stations. Currently, you have two solid country stations, although if you look at the dial, you'll find more. You've got numerous Spanish-speaking stations. And, obviously, there are numerous rock stations or "rockish" stations: Seventies rock, classic rock. Radio here will always be the same in that it's always shifting. Percentages just rise and fall. Right now you have two alternative stations. One on the FM, one on the AM. Hopefully, the AM will stay on the radio and maybe it will become an FM. I don't know. I will say this: Radio is a free entity. You need to give people a real solid reason to turn on the dial. That's the credo I've had all these years. You've gotta give people a reason to listen; you have to entertain them. Radio is supposed to be entertaining. When radio becomes a piece of cardboard with a restricted format, it's useless, and we're not talking about just rock radio here, we're talking about everything. You could have Turkish bath music, and as long as you make it sound exciting, it would be exciting radio. I mean, hell, yes, let's put Turkish bath music on the air. Because homogenized radio is crap radio. NT: Is The Edge an alternative radio station?

L.: It certainly began as that. Obviously, it's gone further into being a mainstream modern-rock station. But you know, in all honesty, it's still alternative. Because there's still many, many conservative people out there who look at the music that station plays as not being normal, and that's a good thing.

NT: Do you think there's room for a college station in this market?
L.: You know, I always wanted to see KASR become a bona fide college radio station, and I'll tell you why: I didn't look at it as competition. People call in to KUKQ asking for some really strange things that, frankly, even we don't play. It would have been much more pleasurable to say, "Listen to KASR, man, they'll be able to play that for you." KUKQ isn't a college station, but, boy, it sure is close. A lot of college stations across the U.S. are looking at our playlist week to week, because KUKQ is a professional, commercial, AM alternative slash college-minded station. But still--yes, I think there's room for a real college station. It could only help local music and the variety of national stuff that gets played.

NT: Any regrets at this point?
L.: Of course there are. I'm leaving behind a lot of friends and a lot of fans. I really care about my audience. That may sound contrived and hokey, but it's true. And people who don't like me or what I do very much, and there's a lot of them out there, probably think that's a bullshit statement, but it's not. And all the jaded, cynical characters who say otherwise should just go back to their holes and whine. Do you know what happens to you if you're a jaded, cynical character?

NT: What?
L.: You live in a small fucking world and nobody really wants to know you. So you can go crawl under a rock. I mean that. I don't mind a small dose of cynicism, but there's so many people out there that are so quick to rain shit on new ideas, to tell you you're crazy.

NT: You've spent 20-some years inside the music industry and you're not a cynic?

L.: There's a lot of good in everything, and there's a lot of good people in the music industry. When you're in the industry for as long as I've been in it, dealing with people in many different facets, you'll discover that. To make an overall statement that the music industry is a big, evil thing is way wrong.

NT: So you don't feel like the industry bought you out in the end?
L.: That's an interesting question. There's a lot of ways to look at it. Here's mine: Let's say you have a career, and you're working very hard, and you want to be rewarded. A reward could be if somebody recognizes you and goes, "Hey, aren't you . . ." and your interaction goes beyond just them complimenting you and pumping your ego and you sit down over a ginger ale or a beer or something and have a real conversation. That feels good. That's one scenario of a reward. Another is if somebody wants to steal you away. Say you're in a happy time in your life. You're making okay money. You're in a solid place, you're respected, and you're doing more or less what you want to be doing. Things are good. Then all of a sudden, somebody comes at you from out of the blue and says, "We've got this job, we've checked you out, and we want to fly you to L.A. to talk about taking it." So you go, and they say, "We want to keep our publication progressively solid. People speak wonderfully of you, you write very well, and you're a name. You have marquee value." You're flattered, you listen to them. There hasn't been any money offered, so you leave the interview, go back home, and continue working and doing the rest of your life when, again, all of a sudden, they want to fly you out again. You're polite and professional, but you say, "I'd like to come, but I'll be very honest with you, I know that you're interested in me, but you've never really made me an offer and I think it would be the proper thing to do at this point so I can really nail it in my mind and think hard on it." And they say, "No, no, we're going to make an offer. Please come out." So you fly out again, and now they're serious. It's a three-hour, grueling conversation, and they hand you a piece of paper with a figure. And you look at it and it's a good offer. But you tell them you want to think it over. And you come back and you're thinking about it, saying to yourself, "You know, this is a really great opportunity. The radio station is great, but it's not going to last forever." No radio lasts forever. Especially alternative radio. It's always changing. I could always go back to radio promotion. I made a lot of money--I made a lot of friends. I had a good time. I could do that again. KQ could last five more years. Maybe I should just stay here and ride out the storm. So the question is, "What do you really want to do with your life?" Well, I figured out that I wouldn't go to L.A. for what they were willing to give me and I called them and turned the offer down. They called me back and said, "We want you to be happy. Look for a fax in your machine." I did, and the offer was not only what I wanted but beyond. So now I had another decision to make. Shit. I didn't expect that. And this time I decided to go. I've worked very hard in my life, and I've never really done anything for money before. And I still don't believe I'm doing this solely for the money. I'm doing it because I think it's a great opportunity for me. I have a lot of longtime, dear friends in Los Angeles, and I think I'm ready for the change, for the challenge.

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