FM [1978]


The over-simplified promise of FM radio in the early 70s was this: the signal was cleaner and would not fade when your car passed under a bridge.  And you'd hear a lot of different music, less Top 40 and popular stuff than you got on the AM side of the dial.  HERC's father made the switch when he bought and installed a new car stereo in his 1968 Chevelle SS 396 sometime in the mid-Seventies.  HERC fell in love with all the music that was new to him but came to be known as "classic rock".  


HERC himself switched his allegiance to FM one Christmas (maybe 1977?) when he got a portable AM/FM Cassette Player like the one in the picture above.  He then set about recording Casey Kasem's Weekly Top 40 Countdowns and then he hit the motherlode when a certain station in the Midwest began playing six albums in their entirety on Sunday in a program they called the "Sunday Six Pack".  Years later, when his family relocated to the Southwest, HERC was amazed to find the local rock station did the exact same thing.  Score!

Then HERC saw the movie FM on HBO late one night in 1979 and he realized that DJs were people, too, not these disembodied voices that knew everything about music.  HERC actually wanted to be a radio DJ until he met a few.  He has never watched the movie again...  Until this week when he watched it as research for this entry.

The movie FM is a schizophrenic film.  On the one hand, it tries to be a comedy (Martin Mull's film debut) but on the other it tries to be an "us against the Man" drama so it fails on both counts.  HERC cannot recommend this movie but if you watch the trailer and the other, fan compiled video above you can save yourself a lot of time.  [Please note that the song used in the "Reunion" video is not actually in the movie.]  There are a few small treasures contained within the film including REO Speedwagon doing an in-store appearance, Tom Petty doing an on-air interview and a live performance from Hideaway fave Linda Ronstadt, as seen below:

The soundtrack companion to FM is a double album (and double CD) and it actually seems a lot like a K-Tel compilation album featuring Seventies superstars like Queen, Boston, Steve Miller Band, Eagles, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Linda Ronstadt.  The album even won a 1979 Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Non-classical.

One last thing:  HERC has it on good authority that, rumors to the contrary, FM was NOT an inspiration for the television series "WKRP In Cincinnati".  Merely a timely coincidence.

Listen to this SONGZA playlist of the FM soundtrack and other mid-Seventies FM rock classics by clicking on the image above

Read Martin's View on the FM soundtrack by clicking on the cover art above

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