Center Stage, Feature

Center Stage on Live365:

Center Stage on Live365 this week is - "Radio North of Ordinary." We spoke with station manager Brian Rickman 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?

I've been in the terrestrial radio world for over 30 years as a DJ, Program Director, Operations Manager, VP/Programming, and as a Consultant. This particular station is broadcasting a new format that I have developed within my consultancy. We'll be rolling it out via Synchronicity to commercial FM stations in the coming months! The Otter is our "showcase" for this flagship format (the first of 5 that will be made available in the fall).

What brought you to Live365?

Reliability and the convenience of having music rights covered under one streaming agreement.

What's your favorite part about running your own radio station?

I love everything about radio, but my favorite part of the business is the ability to remain creative every day. Additionally, everyone involved in this particular format are huge music nerds (many of us have written for Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, AllMusic, etc). So, as a fan of new artists, I truly enjoy spotlighting their work and introducing new people to their art.

Tell us about your station's programming. What can listeners expect when they tune in to your station?

This format is loosely modeled on the more traditional radio format AAA (Adult Album Alternative). That said, we're not what most would call a "AAA." Our playlist is much wider and deeper. While our library has been tested to ensure maximum intrigue for our target demographic, this format is an effort to dig radio out of its super-tight library mantra. It is truly radio for new music discovery, whether that new music be from a current artist or a library cut never heard on most terrestrial stations. Everything about the presentation of the station adheres to the same high standards and care as any other, more traditional station. We're very proud and excited about the result.

Name one artist that you play on your station that is underrated in your opinion.

There are far too many to name.

What's your favorite music memory/moment?

I'm fortunate to have many. But, I'm old enough to have seen Stevie Ray Vaughan live (in fairness, I was a kid). It was an outdoor show and the weather was terrible, so his performance was delayed. However, when he finally hit the stage, he stepped to the mic and said "I woulda been here sooner...but I couldn't stand the weather." He then proceeded to rip into a mind-blowing set of guitar theatrics with a backdrop of thunder and lightning throughout. It was really kinda magical. Sadly, he'd pass away just a few months later.

Please list your top 5 or 10 songs, with a brief reason why the songs made your list.

Top 5 Personal Favorites - This list changes almost daily, but here are a few that always make the cut, in no particular order:

  • "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" - Procol Harum
    Just a beautiful song, crafted so well, but loose enough to still have soul. I still have no idea what the lyrics are talking about, but as soon as that Hammond organ kicks in, it sends chills up my spine.

  • "Dirty Old Town" - The Pogues
    Shane MacGowan should be mentioned in the same breath as Dylan, Cohen, Waits, et al. when it comes to lyricists. While this isn't his only outstanding moment, it's a personal favorite as you can feel the desolation in the song. It captures a mood so perfectly.

  • "She's Got The Lot" - Slade
    As much as I may be a music snob at times, I often love nothing more than straight-forward RAWK. Slade were, unquestionably, masters of this craft. Ridiculously underrated, especially in the U.S., they influenced practically everybody from The Ramones to Kiss to Nirvana. This particular album cut from them, I believe, epitomizes just pure, raw energy and a groove that's infectious as hell.

  • "10001110101" - Clutch
    Neil Fallon also deserves to be in that list of great rock writers. His work is clever, sometimes straight-up hilarious, and just strikes such an authoritarian tone. Couple that with one of the tightest bands working anywhere today and Clutch remains one of music's best kept secrets. We fans in the underground love having them all to ourselves - but, in truth, more people should pledge allegiance to this band. This particular track is about a robot uprising! Sweeet.

  • "Dreamsicle" - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
    I lived and worked in Muscle Shoals, Alabama for about 10 years and had the privilege of working within that amazing music scene. The artists from Muscle Shoals are unlike any others (and I've lived all over the U.S.) - it is such a wonderful creative oasis in the middle of the Deep South. While he'll be the first to point out that he's not the only giant talent from the area, Jason truly is in a class all his own. Just a brilliant songwriter. Few songs can cause me to get a little teary-eyed like this one can. Isbell just paints such a perfect picture with this song. You'll want to hug the little boy in this song and tell him everything is going to be OK.

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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania