FORTY AMAZING YEARS
Imagine being a kid of just 10 years old and totally enthralled with watching people dance and have fun. Then imagine, by the age of 13 having somehow carved out a niche and a following and a consistent role in making that happen.
It was the summer of 1983 when some of the biggest songs on the radio were “Thriller,” “Holiday” and “Little Red Corvette” – meanwhile at the local teen club, songs like “When I Hear Music,” “Al-Naffish” and “I.O.U” were demolishing the dancefloor. The Break Dance scene was starting to cool, but the Freestyle era had begun, and alongside it the start of the west coast “Hi-N-R-G” (LA Disco) sound, “Electro,’ and “Hip-Hop.”
By now, I had frequently submitted demo tapes to our local college station, 89.1 KUOR, which happened to be the only station in the market playing any kind of street music – there were blocks of Dance Music, LA Disco, Soul, and many other genres played throughout the day. But that year was special. It was July of 1983 when I was given my own nightly radio slot, for 4 hours a night, and allowed to play whatever I wanted, however I wanted. I chose to perform live DJ mixes (mostly Freestyle with a slice of hot electro music like “Planet Rock”) on the radio for four hours straight, joined by Fred Plimley on the mic, shouting out listeners over the transitions and breaks. Our slogans like “The Beat of the Inland Empire,” “The IE’s Only Dance Music Mix,” “Supersoul Sunday” “In The Mix” and “Playing Only Your Requests and Dedications” were powerful and became brands of their own. Almost overnight, a movement was born that evolved rapidly into sold out shows at the local fairgrounds every weekend, club gigs all over Southern California, and ultimately kicked off my career – one that I never dreamed of, and never imagined was possible.
One thing led to another, as things tend to do when something is hot, and people are engaged. By 1987 I had become largely the biggest DJ brand in my area, had bought into a nightclub in Palm Springs, CA, was playing at and promoting my own massive “Dance Concerts” and was already doing DJ Mixes for other radio stations. But there was room to grow, and in 1988 radio station 99.9 KOLA needed my help. At age 17 I became the Music Director under owner/program director Fred Cote. Fred was the first guy to launch an all-dance radio station in Southern California on a 30,000-watt stick. It seemed like you could hear this station everywhere. The potential was huge. So off I went to play dance music on a “Real commercial radio station!” We had a good run, breaking to radio so many artists that other stations wouldn’t touch – taking that college radio formula to the big time and expanding dance music culture. It was incredible.
KOLA led to KGGI (1992) where “DJ Lynnwood’s Earthquake Mix” was born. In that same period, my “Old School” sound was huge, and “House Music” was ramping up. Friday and Saturday nights I mixed from 8p-3a, (for years I did this live from my night club residency at the legendary Club Metro in Riverside). Throughout the day the mix could hit at any time, just like an earthquake. By 1995 the show was running over 30 hours per week, was a ratings blockbuster and by 2001 was airing on hundreds of US stations and another 25 or so scattered around the world. Then came other regional/national shows like “The Disco Hotmix,” “Interference, the Sound of the International Underground,” “The Mix Show,” and “The EDM Quick Mix.” (The Earthquake Mix is still strong, even the summer re-runs get big listens via Podcast.)
It was an incredible time to be in entertainment, to be on the radio, and to break all the rules. It worked because it was authentic, the music represented the market, nightlife ruled the streets and curators were, albeit reluctantly, given the freedom to express themselves unhinged and without boundaries. (Well at least I was.) The music scene was as vibrant and eclectic as the people in it. I can’t think of a more expressive, diverse, wide-open time. I spent nearly every waking moment discovering new music, driving into the city to snag up test pressings before the weekend, hanging out in every single record store and distributor looking for the next big record. It was a lifestyle, and there was an enormous industry and culture built around it. Those really were magical days; I miss them dearly.
So I wanted to thank you, every person who listened, criticized, attended, called in a request, danced at any one of my live broadcasts, complained to the FCC about my foul mouth, made cassette bootlegs of my radio shows, misspelled my name on a flyer, tried to con me into DJ’ing your wedding or listened to my voice on the radio (especially the early years that were truly questionable.) I want to thank my first radio mentor Fred Plimley and the guy I learned how to mix with, DJ Tom Tom. I want to thank the entire ecosystem (past and present) of radio colleagues (especially the ones that had a direct impact on my early success, it was never easy working with my out of the box mentality – you took the risk nevertheless!) like Robert Topping, Mike Keane, Larry Martino, Mike Marino, Bob West, Jerry Clifton, Guy Zapolean, Greg Mack, Carmy Ferreri, Dave Presher, Diana Laird, Pattie Moreno, Chad Chavez, Lawman, Ricky Leigh Mensh (RIP); and legends like The Big V, The Mity OT (RIP), Rick Dees, The Swedish Egil, Jed the Fish, Jeff Garcia, Richard Blade, Bobby Sato, Kid Stevens, Bad Boy Bill, Michael Martin, Hollywood Hamilton, Jesse Duran, Picazzo, DJ Laz, Sluggo, Rick Hummer, DJ Jess Tha Mixaholic, Richard Vission, and the many programmers who have carried my shows over the decades.
We did this. We created DJ Culture on the FM dial.
I will always treasure the incredible and uncontainable potential of FM radio, not just because it has been such a key part of my career – but because it is still here, still necessary, and still free to consume.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is with immense gratitude, respect, and awe that I celebrate 40 amazing years.