Tommy Rivers, Charlie Wolf, John Catlett
At Euroradio 2000, the annual Offshore Echo's event, held in Calais, Chris Edwards and Robert Magniez spoke to Tommy Rivers, Charlie Wolf and John Catlett and asked them how it all startedÖ..
Wolf: I must admit over the
years, I haven't been a member of the free radio cause, I don't read the
magazines, keep up with it, but at the same time it really has been special
today to relive some of these moments, and the love that you folks have for the
radio, it is a part of history.
What was the music policy?
Tommy Rivers: Music policy, we would watch the charts, to determine what we thought would be a Laser song, which meant we didnít play a lot of the novelty songs that were charting for instance, in Britain. We got our records from a variety of sources, we also weeded out toward the second year a lot of ballads, a lot of slow material, and kept it up tempo.
Catlett: One of
the things I did on land, was to go around to the record companies and meet the
sales promotion staff, and they would always be ready to see me with plenty of
free copies of all the latest material. I would simply take this back to the
station, which meant waiting for a tender to allow us to get it out to the
station, where they would make their selections and decide what to play.
Wolf: It was kind of irritating
that they (record companies) were complaining about the royalty fees. I donít
think that Frankie goes to Hollywood were complaining too much when Radio 1
refused to play Relax, and we made it a hit. Some things happened by accident,
in music programming, thereís a category known as re-current hits, these are
songs that have been hits just recently and maybe have been rested for a while,
and they would then come back in. We kind of set a trend in playing re-currents
for a lot longer than other stations, they would take a hit, play it and get rid
of it. We hung on to it. Part of the reason, was not by design, but the fact
that we couldnít get new product, so by accident that happened.
How did you find the staff?
Tommy Rivers: Itís a luxury that many people do not have in their life. You become an adult, you go to work, some day you retire. This gave us a relatively short period of time, to stop the world and get off. In my case, I read, like Iíve never read in my life, to learn about yourself, to learn how to interact with other people. Thatís something that for me, those lessons were important. If you ask Charlie, other people as well, it was a time to check out of the rat race, find out what makes you tick, and figure out whatís important to you.
How did you feel when Eurosiege started?
Wolf: The Dioptric Surveyor showed
up. At that point I was feeling rather creatively drained. I donít remember
how soon we found out what it was, but as soon as we did I was skipping up and
down the hallway, saying thank you, thank you, thank you. My prayers have been
Tommy Rivers: That was about as openly communicative as they got. We decided if we were going to be doing this (Eurosiege reports), letís do it at structured times of the day, and thatís how we fell upon twice a day, as opposed to 24 hours a day, play by play. It came together in the first few days and then it took off.
Were you aware of the reaction Laser was getting?
Wolf: You folks actually, Offshore
Echoís and Buster, had more knowledge of us than I think we did. You guys knew
when we went to the toilet. I used to be amazed, weíd read these logs that
would come out, we actually got a laugh at you folks in a sort of way, because
weíd read these logs saying that last month we reported that the Kontiki ad
went out at 9.10, actually the ships clock was off, so even so Tommy said it was
9.10, it actually went out at 9.11. I guess that itís good to know that its
there now, so one can look back. You folks probably knew more about what we did,
than we did.
Do you think Laser could succeed nowadays?
Tommy Rivers: The times have changed, it wouldnít succeed today. People have a diversity of interests these days, video, games, you name it, CDís, digital quality radio, itís a different world. Radio meant more in the 60ís, in the 70ís, the 80ís, although it was diminishing even then. It is no longer the lightening rod on which a lot of people can get excited about. Itís just one element in entertainment, not like it was a few years ago.
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