ROCK OF THE 1980’S
As you see, Fish is my real middle name. I was 17 when I took and passed the exam for the First Class Radiotelephone Certificate. Issued in Long Beach. This enables one to do technical work on TV and radio transmitters. I just got it to exceed the requirement for a Third Class license. As I had no interest in this, I allowed it to expire. I framed the license, and it became a chopping surface for nasty drugs in the KROQ control room in Pasadena on Los Robles Blvd.
This photo was taken as we were initiating the new studios in 1996. I believe that is Cynthia Takahashi with me in the control room, moving the equipment from the Pasadena studio. As you can see we had already begun to decorate. The filled cabinet was CDs, the empty ones for tape cartridges, or carts.
Working at KROQ was fun, and I’m sure it sounded like it on the air. In back of me, albums, below my right elbow 7” 45rpm singles, the rest hundreds of carts, to my right and in front of me, shelved and stacked. The Grace Jones poster, seen in many photos, was directly to my right. We had creepy green carpet and awful green and red curtains which were never open. This control room had soul, the walls were covered with notes, flyers and photos. Ask me about Sly Stone.
The ancient Sony CD players on the right, the ponytail — up — and the visor. It was amazing that we had an extra oscilloscope at all, and that it was in the control room a miracle. It told us if the signal was in phase, important to avoid cancellation (bad sound). As in most control rooms, a music log and a program log to keep track of played commercials. Koss headphones. Turntables to the left.
Debbie Leavitt contact sheet from 1982, KROQ control room in Pasadena. Never a fashion trendsetter, somehow the DJs picked up on the medical scrubs look.
Jed The Fish in the KROQ Control Room, Pasadena, 1983. The ubiquitous Sennheiser 421 microphones.
Baseball shirts were a thing. Jed The Fish, Pasadena KROQ control room. There were carts everywhere. Similar to the old 8-track cartridges, these had a continuous loop with a stop tone (to stop the machine the last time someone played it) just before the beginning of each recording. So when you plugged it in to play it, it was always ready. It was quite a reliable system, which is why the cart machines such as ITC existed for 50 years. Hassle recording the cart in the first place, but I did it for the Go-Gos, who gave me a demo lacquer of “Cool Jerk.”
Silly grin. Jed The Fish, Pasadena KROQ control room. Turntables!
Rick Rippey was my producer for 12 years, in my opinion my best years. He encouraged diabolical ideas. Suggests things in just the right way to inspire me. Burbank KROQ control room. Now THIS guy could fix any piece of equipment put in front of him. Note the overbridge, which he and Scott Mason installed. It allowed the cart machines to be places directly over the control board for smoother workflow.
Jed The Fish Pasadena KROQ control room. Various radio station stickers were everywhere.
Where’s Josie? This is the day I asked her what her real name was, and she said, “Well, basically Josie Cotton is my name.” A dedicated bimbo. Pasadena control room. A fake protest was staged outside the Pasadena studios. None of the protesters were angry. Gleaming Spires, the Sparks offshoot, was in the studio. Leslie Bohem and David Kendrick.
By 1986, Depeche Mode were about to be huge. Here we display a listener license plate in the KROQ control room in Pasadena. Despite claims to the contrary, I played Just Can’t Get Enough the week after it was released in London. I played it because I had heard of the producer, Daniel Miller, who also produced the double a-side single TVOD/Warm Leatherette. Mike Zampelli of Zed Records in Long Beach gave it to me.
I think this was for the True Stories album, as David moved closer to a solo career. Always an impeccable dresser. Pasadena control room.
At least I stood up for this one. Erasure with Jed The Fish.
Very seldom do I get a pro to photograph me at work, but Debbie Leavitt was there on Josie Cotton Day, without Josie Cotton. These are her proof sheets, not actual prints.
Muscle shirt, no muscles. INXS drummer Tim Ferriss is the clowner-arounder of the band, and I love that they didn't always send Michael Hutchence for interviews. Fun guy.
One of my true heroes, Zappa wasn't especially kind when I interviewed him. I honestly was not great at it. He insisted I got into radio to get laid, and actually it was because even as often the best qualified journalism graduate, the news stations were obligated to not hire white men. I simply did not know what else to do. When you meet your heroes, you're often let down. This did little to diminish my admiration and enthusuasm.
Jennifer Beals, eventually a Yale graduate, could carry herself well in an interview. Aside from Return of the Jedi and Terms of endearment, Flashdance was the highest grossing film of 1983. She impressed me so much, I asked her to take her bra off under her shirt like she did in the movie. It looks like she's dipping me!
The thing I remember most about this interview is I got Bono to imitate Naked Lunch author William Boroughs. Evidently, the greatest lead singers are adept at imitation. I also remember they smoked like chimneys and brought a case of Guinness, promptly consumed by off-air KROQ staff.
The Ramones were seven albums into their career when Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone visited the Pasadena studio in 1983. Never afraid of the hard work it takes even an established band to live on, I did tons of appearances with them, sometimes nights for in a row. Maybe you saw them at Knott's. Johnny lived in Los Angeles for several years and I would regularly see him at gigs I announced.
I must have met with Richard Butler a half-dozen times, and we always had laughs. One night before a show at the Forum he asked if I had decent seats, and I said, yeah, not bad. When he came onstage and saw me dead center in the front row, his eyes jumped out of his head. Later he said, he remembered me saying I had decent seat, but he never expected me to be right under his nose whilst singing. I explained that, yes, I can always get free seats, but if I really want to see, I always purchase tickets. On this occasion, I actually asked Goldenvoice if I could buy front row center and they let me, knowing I never ask such things. Note long-time Music Director Lisa Worden on right, left below me is Assistant PD Gene Sandbloom, who today runs Roq of the 80s.
He was always such a genteel person. Shortly after this interview in 1982, he led a crowd of people from the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach across PCH into the Pacific Ocean. His last encore song that night was I Go Swimming, to be release the next year. Here, he's like a scraggly-headed vampire.
I can only describe my ridiculous hair as a follicle fountain. Depeche Mode has been in the station more times than I can count. Andy Fletcher is probably the member least like a tempermental artist.
We had whiteboards in the Burbank control room. Notes for the jocks and Kevin and Bean. Evidently on this day, I was overdressed. Andy Fletcher in the Burbank control room.
Modular Synth is fun to stream, but I’m stuck producing videos for now. Apple doesn’t help; I can’t jedit.mp4s on OS X nor iOS. Bad.