Airwaves: April 6, 2007
Your New Oldies Station
Rich "Brother" Robbin is a living legend in Southern California radio. He's worked at or programmed numerous stations including San Diego's KGB (now KLSD 1360 AM) and KCBQ (1170 AM), as well as Los Angeles' own KIQQ (now KRBV, 100.3 FM), KKDJ (now KIIS, 102.7 FM), KGFJ (now KYPA, 1230 AM), and 10-Q (KTNQ, 1020 AM).
At KIQQ, he was the one who came up with the idea of calling the station by it's frequency, K-100. At 10-Q, he had the foresight to record all the music in stereo in anticipation of either AM stereo or a simulcast with the sister FM station, KGBS (now KLSX 97.1 FM). Indeed, throughout his career he has always been a forward thinker. Every station he touched became better in some way.
So it was the radio industry's loss and our gain when Robbin decided to chuck it all in order to live by the beach in San Diego and program his own internet station, richbroradio.com.
Listening to richbroradio is a real treat. Not the same 40, or even 400 songs that traditional oldies stations play -- or claim to play. Robbin says that he has over 2000 songs in rotation, all personally selected with no research involved. You can listen continuously for days without hearing the same song twice.
"It's my music," he told me over the telephone. "It's music I played, music that means a great deal to me." So does he listen to the stream himself? "I listen constantly," he said, describing how he even purchased a Motorola Q wireless phone which then acts as an internet radio tuner while he drives.
The station focusses on 1955 to 1963 -- "an era of music that oldies radio totally ignores" -- but extends quite a bit from there, including songs from the Beatles, the Supremes and the Beach Boys as well as many more. Sprinkled between songs are jingles from radio stations you grew up with.
Anything he won't play? "Songs that were destroyed by oldies radio," he quickly replies. "You won't hear 'Pretty Woman,' but you will hear a lot of other Roy Orbison." If he finds that a particular songs begins to annoy him, he pulls it off.
Sound quality is excellent, at least on my high-speed connection. I haven't yet connected it to my main stereo, but the sound on through my computer speakers is bright with excellent separation ... at least on songs that were originally stereo. A testament to Robbin's constant listening -- if it sounds bad, he'll know ... and fix it.
So what would make a successful programmer and personality retire from a successful career? "I don't see it as retirement," he explained. "I did retire from going to a traditional radio station, and the politics that go along with it. But I'm working every day -- there was a steep learning curve and this takes a lot of time to do right." Enjoying what you do is an essential element as well: "Quality of life is more important than anything else, and I now truly enjoy what I'm doing again," he concluded.
Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think. I sincerely doubt you will find a better oldies station on the air or on the net.
April Fool's Day is the birthday of the late Real Don Steele; in celebration, reelradio.com (subscription required) has a video recording of Channel 9's The Real Don Steele Show from 1974. Check it out ... the fashions and dancing are a mind trip unto themselves; the commercials for bad movies are a nice extra!
Copyright © 2007 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.
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