Interview on Radio Free Phoenix

Friday, January 26, 2007. I visit Andy Olson and Cheryl Sweet at Radio Free Phoenix, their home-based local and internet radio station, for an interview.

Andy Olson is a veteran DJ of the early 1970’s FM radio revolution, which, he told me, played a big part in creating the singer/songwriter phenomenon of those days. The commercial stations on AM wouldn’t play the thoughtful, political and psychedelic music that was born of the consciousness boom of the late 1960’s, but a bunch of maverick DJs used the unwanted FM bandwiths of the time to promote these songs. After they proved there was a large listening audience for the new singer/songwriters, the big labels began to pick them up and the commercial stations began to play them.

Andy and Cheryl in the recording studio of Radio Free Phoenix.

However, now that a few media megaliths own the great bulk of the radio stations and play only whatever the big record companies are promoting, a similar revolution is taking place on Internet radio.  Maverick DJs are playing “indie” music,  that is, self-produced recordings by singer/songwriters that do not conform to the commercial norm.  That’s me.  Thanks to artist Tracy Dove for giving a copy of What Living’s All About to Cheryl Sweet last summer, and to DJs Andy Olson, Cheryl Sweet, Liz Boyle and Miss Holly King for playing four cuts from the CD ever since.

Andy told me that, since many commercial stations simply computerize their programs and no live DJ actually chooses or comments upon the music, in-studio radio interviews with musicians rarely air. But on non-commercial station programming and on Internet radio, the DJs and hosts welcome all kinds of content, including live interviews.

Considering the service that independent stations render to the community, they ought to be well-funded. However, most are running on scarce donations and volunteer work. Cheryl works nights as a cardiac nurse in a local emergency room, in addition to hosting her own radio show and, with Andy, raising four children. The station owes its continuation to her efforts.  Andy predicts that with the expansion of “wi-fi” (wireless internet connection) to cover entire cities, Internet radio will one day be as ubiquitous as conventional radio.  (Note from 2021: he was right!)

I loved being interviewed by Andy Olson and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to us. Click here to hear a podcast of it.