Center Stage on Live365 this week is Geauga Rocks – "Decades of the best in rock and pop music from Northeast Ohio!" We spoke with the station manager Michael Kehoe about their history with radio, their station's programming, and we got some music recommendations. Check out the interview below!
What made you get started in radio?
Basically, the love of music.
In the mid 90s, when I was about 40, I was a DJ on a Canadian station during the wild, wild west days of internet radio. To this day, I don't know if it was legal or not. I did a live 4-hour alternative show on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from my little computer and a crappy microphone in my apartment office in Ohio. It was a blast. My favorite moment was when they forgot to switch the station over to me and there was a 20-minute conversation from their studio about the weather, what they were going to do later, and beer until they realized what happened.
It was in 1999 or 2000, at the beginning of the old Live365, that I got into doing my own station.
What brought you to Live365?
I was a subscriber to the original Live365 for years until they shut down. When the company was resurrected, I ran a station for awhile, but real life got in the way. I just recently retired and now have the time to put the effort into the station. I will say that if it wasn't for Live365, I wouldn't be doing this. It's a hobby for me, and they have made it one I can afford.
What's your favorite part about running your own radio station?
I like the freedom of doing my own programming: being able to put up some songs and artists that don't get much airplay while making sure that I get popular and classic songs out at the same time; being able to adjust on the fly to what is working and what isn't and program accordingly; the success or failure of the station is all on me.
Some advice that was given to me was that I should focus on one era or genre and do that the best I could. I originally started out with a classic rock and pop station. What frustrated me with that was limiting myself to one era was kind of a dead end. While I love the music, it had already been made. There were no new songs.
My thought then was that even though I grew up in the 60s, I was still listening to new music, even if it wasn't top 40 stuff. So, I made the decision to run the gamut of time and add new music as I found it.
Tell us about your station's programming. What can listeners expect when they tune in to your station?
Geauga Rocks! has decade specific shows scheduled throughout the week. You know, the old 60s at 6, 70s at 7, etc. The morning shows have a more poppy, AM radio vibe, while the evening shows gear more towards rock. During the afternoons and later evening, we have classic rock and alternative blocks. We also have genre-specific hours in the afternoon, such as power pop and new wave. On Friday and Saturday nights, we have party music blocks, and during the summer months, we run All Day Party mixes on Saturday and Sunday.
Our show schedule can be found at geaugarocks.com/show-schedule.
Name one artist that you play on your station that is underrated in your opinion.
I'm going to pick a more recent artist that I discovered around 2015: Ryan Hamilton. Whether it's his solo albums or with The Traitors or Harlequin Ghosts, he never disappoints. His roots are in the Beatles, Stones, and early classic rock. You can feel his love for that music style. To check out his progression, start with his debut album Hell of a Day and finish it up with Nowhere to Go But Everywhere by Ryan Hamilton and The Harlequin Ghosts. His latest release is the album 1221. Some songs to check out: "Records and Needles" (2015) and "Mamacita" (2019).
What's your favorite music memory/moment?
As cliché-ridden as this is, at 9 years old I sat at a family friend's house with their kids and watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and was immediately hooked.
Please list your top 5 or 10 songs, with a brief reason why each song made your list.
This is incredibly difficult. After listening to music for over 6 decades, it's tough. I'll pick one song from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and from the total of the 2000s so far.
The 60s: "A Day in the Life" - The Beatles
At 12 years old, I did not understand the true meaning of the song until I was much older, but the transition from somber news, to jaunty daily grind, to it's dreamy conclusion was unlike anything I had listened to at that point in my life.
The 70s: "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" - The Temptations
I picked this because it wasn't until the late 60s/early 70s that I started to get into R&B/soul artists. The 12-minute album version is just so epic. The message and musical and vocal arrangements are superb.
The 80s: "Once in a Lifetime" - Talking Heads
This song's multiple rhythms that give it an off-center gravity and David Byrne's half-spoken/half-sung lyrics have made it one of my favorites. "How did I get here?" indeed. The first music video that actually complimented the song for me.
The 90s: "Everlong" - Foo Fighters
The best (arguably) of the band's songs. Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl advanced from the grunge era and added bits of everything from hard rock to pop rock. They are just a good old rock band.
The 2000s: "Hold On" - Alabama Shakes
Besides the elastic voice of Brittany Howard sliding easily from croon to howl, the message of struggle and encouragement are relative to any generation. Plus, they sounded different from anything else being played at the time.
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