Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Radio Stations in Songs

Writing a song about a specific radio station is quite rare. The inverse is more common where a radio station changes calls or re-brands based on an existing song or artist. In some cases it's just plain unclear.

I'm limiting myself to 3 and 4 letter calls that are based in the U.S. and begin with a W. or a K. For song references I'm sticking with albums or song titles where the sequence of letters is clearly used as a callsign. I'm excluding fictional call signs and other spoofs. The number of fictitious radio stations is huge and warrants it's own post. I've selected these rules to cull the herd and it makes it possible for me to compare these individually to real stations.

KAOS - Roger Waters - "Radio K.A.O.S." from the album of the same name circa 1987.
89.3 KAOS first went on air in January 1, 1973, leaving the possibility open, except that the liner notes clearly describe it's radio reference as about ham radio.

KLON - Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA)- "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire" circa 2002. The album Songs for the Deaf uses a car-radio theme to segue between songs. One of the faux radio clips uses the call letters KLON out of Los Angeles. In L.A. 88.1 KLON broadcast under those calls starting in the 1970s and flipped to KKJZ in July 2002. This seems like a real reference.

WJAZ -Donald Fagen - "The Nightfly" Circa 1982
The lyric clearly reads "An independent station / WJAZ / With jazz and conversation / From the foot of Mt. Belzoni" WJAZ is presently used on the 91.7 WRTI repeater near Harrisburg, PA. But the WJAZ calls have been used before. From 1922 thru 1931 Zenith Radio Corp operated 930 WJAZ-AM in Chicago. Neither of those are in baton Rouge, as it is in the song.

WLSD - They Might Be Giants - "The End of the Tour"Circa 1994
1220 WLSD-AM has been using those calls since 1953. For the Christian talker WLSD stands for Where Love Sounds Different. The lyrics seem to be a bland drug reference.

WOLD - Harry Chapin - "W.O.L.D." circa 1974
In Marion VA, 102.5 WOLD went on air in 1968 and remains so today. The lyrics clearly show the song as being about WOLD, But research indicates the song is inspired by WMEX Interestingly the tune in turn inspired the TV program WKRP.