Just when I thought rock radio was making a comeback, Cumulus Media--second only to the "evil empire" Clear Channel--fired legendary deejay Jim Ladd last fall after a prominent 14-year run with Los Angeles' KLOS.
As Tom Petty protested, Ladd was "The Last DJ" and one of the only left in major-market radio "who plays what he wants to play, and says what he wants to say" rather than adhere to preapproved playlists.
Although Maui's market is modest, live talent and witty commercials connect us, and have become trusted sources of advertising, news and music discretion. John H. Absalom (aka Johnny A) proved himself to be not only the eminent marketing professional and ad crafter for KRKH's 97.3FM, but also an influential live force and "friend of Maui" during his popular broadcast, "The A-Train."
"The A-Train" aired Fridays from 3 to 9 p.m. over the last three-and-a-half years on H. Hawai'i Media's K-Rock 97.3FM, with the live rock show and its wonderfully dysfunctional family becoming essential elements for a proper workweek closure. Johnny and his hip crew delivered this "labor of love" with style and pride, layering rock music and comedy in a cool and comfortable environment where you could let off some steam, while being community-conscious and appreciative of small business.
The end of an era has come though, as Johnny A was let go from the company last week, and "The A-Train" was derailed without warning.
The company owner and he suffered some "differences in opinion," and he was terminated without a chance to say goodbye to his loyal listeners. (Thanks to KAOI for his opportunity to do so last Friday afternoon.)
Johnny pushed for live presence, introducing knowledgeable rockers like Ace Costantino and Spike Fuqua to create rousing shows. Unfortunately, corporate killed these radio stars, too, and the "media" company now only features one live, on-air personality on its three Maui dials.
I gladly delivered Maui Weekly briefs and entertainment news during my "Trish da Dish" segments on "The A-Train," and it was a fantastic learning experience. I commend my friend Johnny for his valuable guidance and honest attitude.
"It has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I thank all the good people that helped make it happen every week, my co-hosts and my sponsors," said Johnny. "Most of all, I thank the folks that tuned in and enjoyed our show."
Learn more about Johnny A and crew via Maui Weekly's "The Dish From Trish" blog and cruise down memory lane with "The A-Train."