TORONTO - In the 1960s there was only one radio station. If you were a DJ it was the top, the pinnacle of your career. If you were a recording artist and they played your record, you were an instant hit. It was the most powerful force in the music industry.
On Wednesday, April 7th, History Television will present the world premiere of Radio Revolution: The Rise And Fall Of The Big 8, a 72-minute documentary that tells the little-known history of this broadcasting rock and soul phenomenon. It's the story of a Windsor, Ontario radio station that helped define a time and a place - CKLW, the Big 8.
Radio Revolution, a feature length documentary written and directed by Michael McNamara and produced by Judy Holm for Markham Street Films Inc., investigates the international social, political and musical impact of radio station CKLW during the 1960s and '70s. "CKLW invented a non-stop, loud and brash programming style that was studied and copied in markets around the world, from LA to New York to London," says the press release.
At 50,000 watts, covering 12 million listeners across 32 states and 4 provinces, CKLW, 'The Big 8', was the giant of pop radio and one of the most powerful forces in the American music business at the time, even though it was housed on the south shore of the Detroit River in a city of 180,000 people - Windsor, Ontario.
And the person in charge of picking the hits? A former CKLW switchboard operator named Rosalie Trombley who was born and raised in Windsor. In those days, young Rosalie had the transmission tower and the music industry power to make or break international acts such as Bob Seger, David Bowie, Elton John, the Temptations, and The Four Tops.
"The station provided the soundtrack to the days of postwar industrial prosperity, through the rising social unrest and racial tension that led up to the explosion of the most violent of all the race riots in the US during the disastrous summer of 1967, and through the shock waves and renaissance efforts in the decades to follow," says the release, of the Windsor stations reflection of America, especially the city of Detroit.
Through a combination of personal anecdotes from CKLW alumni, memorabilia and recordings, rare never before seen film and photographs of CKLW in it's heyday, vintage and modern day footage of both Detroit and Windsor, Radio Revolution sheds new insights into a unique phenomena of communication and community.
The film features a soundtrack that includes hits from the halcyon days of radio including music by Alice Cooper, Funkadelic, Marvin Gaye, The Guess Who, Elton John, Kiss, Wayne Kramer (MC5), Martha and the Vandellas, Scott Morgan (The Rationals), The Ohio Players, Tony Orlando, The Parliaments, Bob Seger, Steppenwolf, The Who, and the legendary multi-million selling "The Americans", as performed by the late 20-20 newsman Byron MacGregor. Songs include "Detroit" (Scott Morgan, the Rationals), "Heavy Music" (Bob Seger), "Born to be Wild" (Steppenwolf), "Won't Get Fooled Again" (The Who), "Rosalie" (Bob Seger), "I'm Eighteen" (Alice Cooper), "Beth" (Kiss), "These Eyes" (The Guess Who), "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" (Tony Orlando), "Bennie & the Jets" (Elton John), "Nowhere to Run" (Martha & the Vandellas), "Going Back to Detroit" (Wayne Kramer (MC5)), "What's Going On" (Marvin Gaye), "American Woman" (The Guess Who), "I Just Want To Testify" (The Parliaments), "You and Your Folks" (Funkadelic), "Rhythm Changes" (The Ohio Players) and the legendary multi-million selling "The Americans", written by Gordon Sinclair and read by Byron MacGregor.
Radio Revolution is premiering this week at the 2004 SXSW Film festival in Austin Texas, and will air on History Television on April 7th, 2004 at 8 p.m.
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