Tony Powers | Words for a Modern Rock Mentor Then and Now: Tony ...Music Spectrum: Words for a Modern Rock Mentor Then and Now: Tony PowersMusic Spectrum
...Words for a Modern Rock Mentor Then and Now: Tony Powers
I recently discovered that a mentor of mine, Tony Powers
(Tony deMedici), was diagnosed with cancer.
...Tony Powers was the program director at KJJO 104.1 FM in Minneapolis/St.
came on board to help the station convert to the "Modern Rock" format in 1990. (Those were the days before alternative rock became a successful subset).
During my senior year of high school, I was on the school newspaper.One of my first articles was a piece about KJ104, its new format, and an interview with Powers
.Unprofessionally, when the interview was over, I asked Powers
had a job.He didn't have a job, but he invited me to become an intern for the afternoon DJ.
When I found Tony's
site, I wrote saying how much I appreciated him giving me that chance to go from high school reporter to modern rock intern.That experience led me to choosing to major in Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University
, and I often realize that as I make my way through the music world with Music Spectrum I still rely on some of the skills of the trade I learned from working events like the first Lollapalooza with KJ104.
I was also especially pleased to see that Tony
is now a very committed Christian.
thought perhaps that he
wasn't such a good influence on me in the KJ104 days.Regardless, though, I know that he
is a big reason for my continued involvement in the music world.It only seems right to praise God for the way He
has worked in both of our lives to bring us through rock 'n' roll to where we are now.
The following is this cub reporter's article about KJ104 and Tony
that was originally published in the Bloomington Jefferson Senior High School
The Jefferson Rebel on October 31, 1990.Note: "Progressive" seemed to be the buzz word to describe KJJO's
format, although it would be wrong to think it meant "progressive rock" of the 70's.
Twin Cities' DJs give insight to radio waves:KJJO's Tony PowersJHS
[Jefferson High School] tuning their radios to KJJO 104 will find that the hard rock they were used to hearing has been replaced with something new and unknown--progressive music.Along with the new sound is a new voice, that of Tony Powers
is fairly new to the Twin Cities.He was transferred here from a progressive station in Athens, GA, about a year ago to be operations manager for the "new" KJJO 104.1.He
also oversaw the station's change in format from heavy metal/hard rock to progressive, "alternative" music. [Quotes original around alternative].
Why did KJJO switch after being the only hard rock station in the Twin Cities?The sponsors didn't want to advertise on that type of a station."Nobody wants a motorcycle gang pulling up in front of their furniture store," said Powers
."It just wasn't attracting the right crowd."
In January of 1990, KJJO
began the switch slowly by offering "The Mad Music Asylum" on Saturday nights, which played the new progressive music to see the public's response.According to Powers
, who jockeyed the show, the response was tremendous.It proved that the new format could work.March 16 was the last day that 104 played music by Motley Crue, and after that they gradually stopped playing songs by other heavy metal groups.
The reaction to the switch was remarkable from both sides.People were listening, but now the hard rock crowd wasn't being served."People would call me every possible name you could think of," said Powers
, who also received death threats from the unhappy heavy metal groupies.Now the threats have subsided, and the ratings are on the rise.Powers
is happy with the progressive format at KJJO
and doesn't want to play anything else."I can't imagine myself playing a Milli Vinilli song," he
got into rock and roll at the age of six.He
mom listening to a radio program called "The Moon Dog Show" by Alan Freed, who coined the phrase "rock and roll.""I grew up with Mom dancing with vacuum cleaner," he
In high school, Powers
played in a band called the Hitchmen.The most they ever made was $25."That's when I decided to play other people's music instead of trying to make my own," he
said.Once in college, Powers worked as a DJ to pay his way through school.He
had much to say about his
competitors."93 is a better 92," he
said, referring to the two Twin Cities classic rock stations, but according to him they're living in the past."What'll they play in ten years?"he
asked.As for KDWB and WLOL, Powers
called the popular music they play "mindless and without soul."
What does he
prefer?Jane's Addiction, The Cocteau Twins, Jelly Fish, and Social Distortion are the top bands on his
list right now.He
also likes to play and listen to a lot of little-known local musicians."Minneapolis is strong for music," he
claims, citing as examples the successes of such local artists as the Replacements, Bob Mould, and Soul Asylum.
"People may or may not like it," said Powers
lets the audience decide.For now, Powers
is happy being the connection between new musicians and Minneapolis listeners.
Thanks and prayers to Tony Powers