Let's start this mix with some backstory...
I first started hanging around KROQ in 1990, trying to get my mixes on air. My method was to bribe them with Depeche Mode songs they didn't have access to yet, and then only let them play the DM songs when they promised to play my mixes on air. This time period was right after Freddy Snakeskin had left KROQ.
A year or two later, I was doing production work at MARS-FM. I would either bum rides from friends, or carpool with Holly Adams (one of the DJs at the station). In all the time that I was at the station, bringing edits, IDs and mixes, I never met the Program Director, Freddy Snakeskin.
Late in 2015, my friend Liz Dwyer was chatting with a guy who said that he used to be a KROQ DJ. Naturally, she texted me, asking if I knew the guy. The guy: Freddy Snakeskin.
Since then, I've enjoyed the time I spend with Freddy. Working with Mike Ivankay, we set us a MARS FM Anniversary site (complete with nearly 100 hours of radio broadcasts). Freddy was a guest on my Fishure-Price show. Most relevant for this posting, though, is KROQ-HD2...
After I "left" KROQ and started working at MARS-FM, I would still hang out at KROQ. The station was only a mile from my home, and I had friends there. One day, Richard Blade suggested that I should do a remix of Annie Lennox's "Little Bird". There was a "Utah Saints" remix of the song. As the Utah Saints sampled "There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)" by Eurythmics for their hit "What Can You Do For Me", it seemed like a fun idea to mix everything together, yet make it short enough for radio airplay.
After I did the mix, I went back to KROQ, and Richard got me into Gene Sandbloom's office (Music Director). Gene played the mix, and completely rejected the idea of my mix ever airing on KROQ. After that gut punch, I was about to leave Gene's office, when Kevin Weatherly walked in (Program Director). "Oh, you're the one who did the Annie Lennox mix? Let's hear it!" Gene played it for Kevin, and Kevin immediately deemed it "playlist worthy", much to the shock (and somewhat visible disappointment) of Gene. You can listen to airchecks of KROQ playing the mix.
Freddy had been DJing at KROQ-HD2, but CBS Radio let him go in 2015. Entercom, KROQ's new owners, brought him back in September 2018.
After Freddy got his job back, I would hit the station. Freddy and I would say "hi", he'd give me KROQ-HD2 posters and stickers for giveaways at Freakbeat Records (clients of mine, and friends of Freddy), and chat a bit about music and radio. Usually, though, the first place Freddy and I would wind up when I got to the station would be to the office of the Program Director of KROQ-HD2, Gene Sandbloom. See? Small world. :)
Time spent in Gene's office was an interesting experience. I remember one time, Freddy and I were sitting there as Gene was working on a "One Hit Wonders" weekend playlist. Gene would say a band or artist name, and then Freddy and I would try to name two hits by that band. With Freddy being both an encyclopedia of music and a DJ for the historic 80s run of KROQ, and me being a huge KROQ 80s listener, we were armed with a lot of combined knowledge. A situation like that was a window into how corporate radio is. Freddy and I loved music, and enjoyed the opportunity to be quizzed on our collective knowledge. Gene just programmed music.
Another time in Gene's office, I was handed a list of songs that the station needed "Dance Mixes" of. I was asked if I had released mixes of the songs, DJ service mixes, or if I wanted to make my own mixes. While being invited to do mixes for such a legendary station was cool (and brought me back full circle to my 90s youth), there was no money involved. So, I just gave the station a few dozen CD rips of released dance mixes for their digital vault.
In February of 2019, I started bugging Gene to let me do a weekend dance party show. I argued that while they were currently playing dance mixes of songs already on the weekends, the songs should actually be mixed together. Anyone with Spotify can just play unmixed dance mixes. Give listeners something exclusive and cool, and the listeners will turn off Spotify and tune into the station, which will get more ears for their commercials, which will get the station more money. With a hesitant "ok", I prepped and delivered a one hour version of "The BRAT Mastermix".
Through emails, calls and visits to the station, I would keep asking "How about the mix show?" I couldn't get a concrete "yes" from Gene. I kept asking...
On one of my visits to the station, Freddy was in Gene's office...instead of Gene. Gene was gone, and now Freddy was the Program Director. The dance show was now a possibility, but there was no budget, and the station wanted me to mix twelve hours of music...a week. I counter proposed that instead of twelve hours of mixed music, just let me do a one hour show on Friday or Saturday night. Discussions started.
April 2020. Discussions stopped.
KROQ was gutted. Entercom (KROQ owners) fired the entire morning show team...and they fired Freddy from KROQ-HD2. In turn, they also killed my chance at a mix show.
Radio doesn't pay. Radio has no respect for the people who make the stations what they are. Radio sucks. Why the hell do I keep trying to go back to radio?
Thanks for reading this far. There's still a bit more, though...
What has always made radio cool, for me at least, were the exclusives that radio played. Exclusives would keep you listening, through bad songs and commercials, just to hear those mixes again. Unique mixes you could only hear on that station.
Radio stations would often hire special guys to do remixes for the station. Tony Moran (The Latin Rascals), Shep Pettibone and Tony Humphries did mixes for New York radio in the 80s that you'd hear nowhere else. On the West Coast, you had guys like Christer Modig ("Swedish Chris") who did exclusive re-edits and megamixes for Power 106 and KROQ. Along with those hired guns, savvy stations would also play DMC and Razormaid DJ service mixes. None of these mixes were available to "mere mortals", so you'd be glued to the radio (with a blank cassette armed and ready), to try and catch the magic.
One of the people who gave Los Angeles radio exclusive mixes was me. For years, as you have probably read on other pages of this site, I did mixes for KROQ, MARS-FM, Groove Radio and KCRW. While I upload things on this site for people to hear, I missed the magic of hearing my work on the radio, and I thought the KROQ-HD2 show would be a great "full circle" 30th anniversary of the start of my career in radio.
I've heard what passes for mixing on radio today. The guy doing DJ mixes at night on KROQ now isn't really that good. Hearing watered down, bad DJ loops being segued on the 80s channel on Sirius on the weekend is utterly disappointing.
No one puts care into their radio production anymore. There's no "extra". No "cool". No reason for me to keep tuning in to listen. All the magic is gone, people listen less, ad revenue dwindles, stations pay less (if anything) for new ideas, and in the end, station owners fire everyone who knew anything about what made radio great.
Radio is just a repetitive Spotify playlist with ads.
This was my proposal for "The BRAT Mastermix", a one hour weekly show that was to air on the weekends on KROQ-HD2. The entire hour would be mixed. Not just "mixed", but produced. Stripping songs down to the base parts - thanks to access to thousands of multitrack parts - and re-working songs into things that listeners would just sit there, listen to and say "damn". Robert Smith singing acapella over David Bowie. Andy Bell singing "A Little Respect" over "Oh L'Amour". Classic "Latin Rascal"-esque editing and multiple songs blending that just isn't possible in a "live" environment. One hour of listeners dancing along to a mix crafted with love, designed to make the listener remember when listening to the radio was more than just background music.
Even if you read the track listing below and think you know what to expect in the mix, you don't. Everything has been edited, stripped down or otherwise changed. Take an hour and listen. What else have you got to do? This fucking virus has us all at home anyway. Play the mix while you - yet again - clean your home.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The BRAT Mastermix.
The Smiths - This Charming Man
Tears For Fears - Shout
Oingo Boingo - Grey Matter
The Go-Go's - Get Up And Go
The Human League - Being Boiled
David Bowie - Fame
The Cure - Fascination Street
The Clash - Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Big Audio Dynamite - The Globe
Blondie - Heart of Glass
Wham! - Young Guns (Go For It)
Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five - White Lines
INXS - What You Need
Deceche Mode - Happiest Girl
Duran Duran - Burning The Ground
Yazoo - Situation
Erasure - Oh L'Amour
Erasure - A Little Respect
DJ set first published online: April 19th, 2020.