Frazier Smith is a stand-up guy.
The man most famously known as the morning guy on KLOS (95.5 FM) from 1979 to 1984 in many ways changed rock radio forever. And he did it through his comedy born out of his standup routines perfected before he even landed in Los Angeles back in 1976, when he worked as part of a weekend program called “The Hollywood Nightshift.”
That program, which ran until 1979, starred the Fraze, Phil Austin, and Michael C. Gwynne doing improvisational comedy based upon a topic that was supposedly chosen spontaneously.
At KLOS he took a station known more for being the dull, corporate alternative to competitor KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) and made it hip. Eschewing tradition, Smith talked. A lot. And he had lots of ongoing bits that were unusual for album rock radio at the time, which generally focussed on the music itself.
Of course this was not new to radio; many in the past had done it prior to the arrival of Smith; Lohman and Barkley on KFI (640 AM) being just one example. But they tended to appeal to an older generation, while Smith did it for high school and college-aged kids who ate up his party animal aura and “too hip” image.
Smith left KLOS for KMET in 1984, moved to KLSX (now KAMP, 97.1 FM) when the Mighty Met became The Wave in 1986, and moved back to KLOS for a year in 1987. He even did a little work on KRTH (101.1 FM) in 2002, and was part of both (relatively) recent KMET reunions on The Sound (100.3 FM).
But ... did you know he’s still on the air? At KLOS, no less, Sunday nights from 10 p.m. to 12 midnight. And it’s not a rehash of what he did years ago ... Fraze is still “too hip,” but the content is current. Too Hip News last Sunday poked fun at Tom Brady ...
using wording that was quite funny and, unfortunately, not able to be printed here.
Rodney on the Roq
There’s something comforting about the idea that Rodney Bingenheimer is still on the air, even if the legendary DJ is stuck in the awful Monday morning 12 midnight to 3 a.m. slot on the station he helped put on the map: KROQ.
During the station’s glory days of the 1980s and 1990s, Rodney on the Roq was found much earlier ... Sunday’s before midnight at least.
But he still plays an eclectic set of songs -- it is said he is and has been the last DJ in town to have full control over what he plays. Recent songs ran the gamut from the Summer Cannibals “Don’t Make Me Beg” to the Beatles “Your Mother Should Know.” He even played a Flamin’ Groovies track recently: “I Can’t Hide.”
Bingenheimer has always been on the cutting edge of music, and his show brought a lot of street cred to KROQ in the early days of the station’s New Wave format. My friend Frank Pereyda was a weekly listener in those days; I still have an audio recording Frank made for me circa 1980 when Bingenheimer did a program featuring songs from the ‘60s psychedelic/garage era ... bands like Love (My Little Red Book) and The Standells (Dirty Water) ... songs that were not at the time and still are not played on the radio.
A shame that Bingenheimer is not heard earlier ... such as when people are actually awake. But at least he’s still there. That’s something.