Published on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 10:32
Former WKQX-FM/Q101 midday personality Electra was known as being quite possibly the best DJ on the station, connecting with listeners with her upbeat personality, "girl next door" charm, and knowledge of music. As it turns out... Electra is quite a writer, too. Especially when writing about a subject that is near & dear to her heart: being a rock music radio DJ. The last of a dying breed, it seems.
On the Slate.com website today, Electra, using her true name of Christine Pawlak, wrote a long piece on the "sad, unwarranted decline of rock music on FM radio." In it, she speaks passionately about the lack of rock music on the airwaves and some of the reasoning behind that, which she disagrees with. She also mentions Howard Stern and his rise to syndicated fame, as well as Randy Michaels, the CEO of Merlin Media, the new company that forced Q101 off the air, and the former CEO of Clear Channel, a corporation that has forced hundreds of DJs off the air with their practices.
On the importance of having a DJ be live & local, Pawlak wrote: "Curiosity can make a listener tune in to a radio station. Loyalty will make him stay, and loyalty must be earned. Making that kind of connection isn't easy, and it takes patience. It helped that I worked for a company that trusted me to host a request hour and didn't require me to pre-record shows for the weekend or for stations in other cities. Recording a show to sound live or local when it's neither makes a DJ sound like the great and powerful Oz -- a disembodied voice behind a curtain, not to be trusted. That practice, known as voice-tracking, is a way to cut costs by consolidating stations into regional clusters with a minimal number of employees."
Regarding the last few weeks of WKQX, she wrote: "Once we knew that the end was near, Q101's programming department let the DJs pick their own music. I 'dusted off' songs I hadn't played in years... I allowed myself to be nostalgic, emotional, and honest. Those last shows were the best of my career. Passion isn't quantifiable like ratings or revenue, but I'm proud that Q101 inspired it in our listeners, no matter how many we had. Technology will change; the need to connect with each other through stories and songs won't."
The entire column written for Slate.com and posted up online a short while ago, can be read HERE
. It is highly recommended reading.
Electra was part of Chicago's Q101 from May 2005 until July 2011, when the station was forced to flip formats as part of an exchange in ownership. Since then, she, along with most of the on air staff from the modern rock station, have been "on the beach" and seeking new opportunities in radio. Unfortunately, as Christine Pawlak's excellent column alludes to, those opportunities are becoming much harder to come by.