Tuesday, July 13, 2021

21 Years Later, Back on the Radio

Mary Katherine Aldin's Master Control

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of being the guest host on KPFK's "Preaching the Blues." Regular host, Mary Katherine Aldin invited me. The show has been on the air for decades. When I was listening a lot in the late 1980s and early 1990s the host was Ed "The Geezer" Archer. He was always full of entertaining stories about blues performers. That's what makes a radio show interesting to me, hearing about the lives of the players and little tid-bits about their performances.  I tried to bring some of that to the show on Sunday night.

For 8 years I co-hosted the "Friday Night Blues Revue" on KPCC-FM with John "Juke" Logan (RIP). Juke was a very well-known harmonica and keyboard player. He knew everybody in the roots and blues music scene. Due to the fact that Juke knew so many musicians, we had great guests on our radio show. This resulted in a CD, produced by Jerry Hall, called "Friday Night Live" compiling so many of the live performances from our 8 years on the air. The CD is documentation of L.A. blues players from 1992-2000.  Sadly, KPCC went to an all-talk format in 2000 and cancelled all music shows, otherwise I'd probably still be there hosting the show! I played many tunes from this CD on Sunday's show.

I learned how to engineer, announce, etc. when I was the board operator for "Billy Vera's Rock 'n Roll Party" on KCRW-FM in the mid-1990s.  I also learned a lot about rhythm and blues, blues, swamp pop, zydeco, Cajun and straight-up jazz when I worked with Billy and Juke. I tried to bring their spirit and knowledge to KPFK on Sunday.
Some of our in-studio guest on the "Friday Night Blues Revue."  Clockwise, from top left, Ladies of the Blues, Billy Boy Arnold, the Blazers with Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Ronnie Barron, Billy Vera, Rick Holmstrom & Johnny Dyer, Floyd Dixon
There's a LOT of preparation that goes into hosting a show, especially for two hours. Sometimes at KPCC, when Juke was on the road, I would host the show on my own. Usually, I'd just bring a bunch of blues compilations and decide on the spot which song I would play. On "Preaching the Blues" last Sunday, I was not the engineer. Mary Katherine was handling those duties. So, the CDs weren't in front of me for reference and back-announce. I had to prepare a spread-sheet of the songs and comments I wanted to play and talk about.
Also, when you're on the air live, you have to juggle the songs around to make room for station identification, commercials for other shows, etc. Luckily, Mary Katherine took care of this too. I used to be very nervous when I had to do this on my own. Many times there were equipment failures, the radio signal might get cut off or worse. There were and are so many things that can go wrong. We had a few minor CD player failures on Sunday, but Mary Katherine is a pro and knows how to yell at the machines so they behave!
Turntables are available for vinyl play

I tried to play lots of my Los Angeles musician friends' songs on the air. Naturally, I over-programmed so we ran out of time. It was fun though. If you'd like to hear the show, it's archived at KPFK.org. Just go to the "Archive" section, look for the show, "Preaching the Blues" and click on the July 11, 2021 show. It should be up for a week or two. Thanks to Larry for coming along and photographing this event and organizing the CDs for us. Thanks also to Mary Katherine for her calm engineering and announcing. We would have taken photos with MK, but she is camera-shy.

Leaving KPFK, the back door is filled with bumper stickers. So colorful!

All in all, we had a great time! If you'd like to help keep these shows on the air and make a contribution to KPFK, 90.7 FM, Pacific Radio for Los Angeles, Southern California and the World, click HERE.  

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At 8:32 PM PDT, Blogger Steven Paul Leiva said...

Lovely post. I'm glad you got a chance to get behind the mic again!

At 8:33 PM PDT, Blogger mo2v8ed1 said...

Loved the broadcast Ellen. You are a pro and along with Mary Katherine you presented a fabulous 2-hour Blues Adventure. Do it again Ladies, I'll be listening!

At 8:52 PM PDT, Blogger Craig C. Brandau said...

Cool Beans Ellen!

At 7:15 AM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Thanks so much for your comments everyone and thanks for listening!

At 1:24 PM PDT, Blogger mj said...

It was terrific to hear you on the radio again! The music was wonderful to hear, too. Hope you can do it again.

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At 9:37 PM PDT, Blogger betty said...

I wish I could have heard the show!

Sounds like you had a good time doing it.

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