The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees for the Class of 2018 were revealed today, and congrats to first-time choices Kate Bush, Radiohead and the boys who like to Rage Against the Machine, provided the Machine doesn’t promise VIP treatment at a black-tie event in Cleveland as a prize. Such a pronouncement is typically greeted by one of two types of responses from folks like me.
Approach A is to question how a fundamentally counter-cultural experience such as rock and roll and a conventional, corporate-like entity such as the Hall of Fame can co-exist. I’m not taking that approach, even if it is pretty inarguable.
The other is to lament the candidate or candidates that have been unforgivably snubbed by the Hall in favor of some other groups or performers the author didn’t like as much. That’s the tack I’m taking today.
For the 10th straight year, WOXY was robbed.
Didn’t see that coming, did you?
OK, I’m only partially serious here. I really don’t think a radio station, even a life-alteringly great one such as WOXY, should be considered on the same plane as the artists who make the music. Though let’s face it, the Hall of Fame has inducted way too many performers who don’t really deserve the plaudits either. (Hey kids, is that Donovan?)
On the other hand, radio was long the only conduit for music for all of us. Hell, it remains an avenue for such discovery, even if it has lost much of what made it great through distant corporate ownership, algorhythmically designed playlists and morning zoos. Still, its place in the history of rock and roll is pretty damn significant.
Yet the Hall largely ignores it, even though it set the museum in Cleveland, home of legendary DJ Alan Freed and WJW. (Well, that and the cash. Don’t forget the buckets of cash.) It wasn’t because the city that introduced the concept of flammable water also gave the world Pere Ubu.*
Sure, the Hall has the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-musical contributors (though, given that no one’s ever heard of the Ahmet Ertegun Award, that could just be Wikipedia fucking with me again). But that’s not enough. Why shouldn’t the Hall recognize the great existing or, more likely, defunct radio stations that have made a difference in presenting music to the masses? And, I don’t think you’d have to scroll too far down the list of groundbreaking call letters before you got to the late, great radio station from Oxford, Ohio, either in its terrestrial or online incarnations.
Each year, the Hall should honor a radio station with a fancy ceremony. Bring the gang back together, collect some old broadcasts and memorabilia and put it on display until the next year’s event. The truth is, I’m probably never going to shell out whatever fee is required to get inside the Hall just for an up-close look at bedazzled jumpsuits from KC and 2/3rds of the Sunshine Band, discarded syringes from backstage at Woodstock and the official paper printouts from one of Bret Michaels’ chlamydia tests. I would, however, consider dropping in to gawk at remaining paraphernalia from the old 97X days, listen to broadcasts and pore over retrieved results from Sledge’s cholesterol tests (a tip: exercise and cut out the trans fats, Matt). I don’t think I’m alone. And since the Hall is a for-profit venture, not an academic exercise, they ought to be jumping to offer such opportunities that will ring the turnstiles.
So, how about it Jann** and Co.? Why not find a way to put WOXY and the other great radio stations into your Glass Pyramid on Erie? I promise I’ll think about visiting if you do.
Oh, and put Sonic Youth in too. That should be a no-brainer.
*To be fair, that would have been an extraordinarily good reason to locate the joint in Cleveland.
**Frankly, you owe me. I paid money to see Perfect in the theater. God that thing sucked.