During the fateful summer of 1966, a handful of restless and frustrated deejays in New York and San Francisco began to conceive of a whole new brand of radio, one which would lead to the reinvention of contemporary music programming. Gone were the screaming deejays, the two minute doowop hits, and the goofy jingles. In were the counterculture sounds and sentiments that had seldom, if ever, made it to commercial radio.
This new and unorthodox form of radio — this radical departure from the Top 40 establishment — reflected the social and cultural unrest of the period. Underground radio had been born of a desire to restore substance and meaning to a medium that had fallen victim to the bottom-line dictates of an industry devoted to profit. In this compelling and intriguing account of the counterculture radio movement, over 30 pioneers of the underground airwaves share insights and observations, and tell it like it was.
Michael Keith has interviewed some of the most prominent figures of underground radio and has woven their reflections into a seamless, engrossing oral history of one of radio's most extraordinary moments. From the first broadcasts of a Screamin' Jay Hawkins record and a live Love-In and Be-In Rock 'n Roll concert, to the ultimate corporate takeover of the commercial underground airwaves, Keith provides the reader with a unique and fresh look at this turbulent era. There had never been anything like commercial underground radio before its '60s debut, and there has not been anything like it since its premature demise in the early 1970s. The innovativeness and boldness of underground radio brought a new golden age to the medium. Ignoring playlists, rigid programming formulas and program clocks, the underground deejays attracted a dedicated following of maturing baby boomers.