Pirate ships are hard to sink
It's been safe sailing on the San Diego airwaves for imperialistic corporations (Clear Channel, Jefferson Pilot) these last few months, but the pirates at Free Radio San Diego (which broadcasts illegally without an FCC license on 96.9 FM) plan to return on Jan. 23.
Contrary to rumors, the station did not go off the air on Oct. 31 due to FCC bullying or a raid, but because the house they were broadcasting from was sold. They planned to begin broadcasting from the new location by New Years Day, but were held up because of an equipment issue.
"Basically, we didn't have access to our old antenna and, regardless, it was getting pretty beat up," explained FRSD morning deejay Bob Ugly. "So we needed a new one. And since FM transmitting antennas are kinda hard to find, it's coming from overseas.
"We will never run with some shoddy piece of crap that will radiate us all and down a jumbo jet, and there was a delay with the holiday slowdown."
Broadcast range will be affected by the move, but it's not yet known how severely.
"We don't want to give out too many clues about the new location. We have a chance to be much more sneaky and hidden than before, and we're going to work hard to make that happen. I think we'll lose a little bit of South Bay, gain maybe up into University Heights, and beyond that, who knows.
"Honestly, it will come down to us driving around in our cars, and then updating a paper map on the wall so we know. FM is line of sight, what you see is what you get."
In addition to moving and new equipment, there have been other shakeups at the station. Five former pirates will not be returning.
"[They] were more or less outed-it's a very long and dramatic explanation," said Ugly. "It boils down to myself and some of the other members in varying ways... being really bothered by how the station was headed. [We] needed to shake things up."
The station will be hiring new deejays, though Ugly warns the new hiring process will be "quite brutal."
"I'm bracing for getting back on the air," he said. "I think a lot of things have been put on the back burners, and will return with some strength when we come back. I expect a lot of people who were aware of the shakedown at the station are waiting to see what we sound like... before they make any final opinions on whether or not they want us, and particularly me, to roast in hell.
"And of course let's not forget Mr. Zears with the FCC, who will most certainly come out and say hello when we get back on the air."
The city's burning, save the animals
Final mixing for a "Best of San Diego" compilation entitled San Diego is Burning will be completed this week and released on Santa Barbara-based Loud and Clear Records in March. Proceeds will go to a local charity.
"It is going to benefit the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA," said Kelsey Moon, an SDHS employee and local music aficionado. "When [Loud and Clear's owner] told Matt Gagin [of Waterline Drift] that he wanted the comp to benefit a worthy cause, Matt suggested the Humane Society because he knows me and some other people who work here."
The label let Moon help book the lineup: "He already had a decent number of well-known bands, but it was important to me to have a few more big names. So, I sent some emails and managed to get in touch with Kill Me Tomorrow, No Knife and Black Heart Procession."
Moon says the Humane Society will receive a full 50 percent of monies earned from the compilation, with the rest going to cover Loud and Clear's production costs.
Though releasing a best-of collection is a lofty goal, Moon and Loud and Clear have done a pretty good job, especially in the indie-rock arena. In addition to the bands mentioned above, there are tracks from Prizefight, Goodbye Blue Monday, Hot Like (a) Robot, Waterline Drift, 21st Century Lepers, lowcloudcover, Channing Cope, The Dropscience, Champagne Kiss, Via Satellite, Manuok, Say from Charms, Ryan Ferguson, Sleeping People and Resolver.
Not just another ceremony
"It's an appreciation," said local promoter Rockin' Johnny White of his annual awards show, scheduled this year for Jan. 16 at 'Canes.
White has been promoting music in the area since 1996, specializing in rock and alternative groups, averaging 36 concerts a year. Each January he hosts an awards show, spotlighting a selection of up and coming talent as well as handing out trophies. Unlike most such ceremonies, there is no voting involved and it's not a popularity contest.
"When you think about it, a lot of things have to come together to make a show," White explained. "This is simply a way to thank those who support and help out with our shows, whether it's through media coverage or working the door. "
"This is our fifth annual event and we'll be awarding 22 trophies. It's nice that most of the recipients do show up to receive them. Everyone seems genuinely happy with the gesture."
There will be CD giveaways as well as a small buffet, with live music from Mr. Orange Undercover, Headtrip Superstar, Friction Switch and Mercy Vox. The latter will also be making a Jan. 15 appearance on the KUSI Morning Show to promote the event, as well as present the station its award on air.
For details, call 858-488-1780.
Bluesman Earl Thomas will host a CD release party on Jan. 17 at La Jolla's Hard Rock Café to celebrate his new album, Soul'd.
Switchfoot earned their first gold record on Dec. 16 for sales of 500,000 copies of their album, The Beautiful Letdown.
Mike Andrews and Gary Jules' update of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" dropped to No. 2 on the British charts after holding the top spot for an amazing third week straight. This ranking ensures its status as one of the biggest songs of 2004. The duo has made numerous European radio and TV appearances, and you can find a great exclusive live version of the tune recorded for British radio show, "Live On The Lounge," on the BBC's website.
Stephen Bishop has released a third album of demos, Fear of Massage. His third greatest hits album, Make it Last-The Hits of Stephen Bishop, will be released later this spring. This edition will concentrate on his soundtrack work, including the recent Anger Management.