Saturday, December 5, 2009

Radio in the Movies #2 - "FM"

I watched a beat-up VHS copy of the movie “FM” yesterday. It’s about Los Angeles rock station QSKY who are doing great in the ratings but aren’t making enough money. Enter the weasly new sales manager Regis Lamar who tries to get program director Jeff Dugan to air commercials for the United States Army. Dugan doesn’t think the spots fit the style of the station and ends up quitting or getting fired (I forget) at which point the other DJs “go on strike” and barricade themselves in the QSKY building, start a riot, fend off police and eventually triumph over management (with a little help from the owner.) There are various subplots involving the ensemble cast of DJs including the horny Eric Swan (Martin Mull) and "Mother" (Eileen Brennan) the old female jock who's bored with her job and leaves, then returns without explanation.
The movie is pretty terrible and steeped in a druggy, late-70s, post-hippie, Los Angeles haze. Linda Ronstadt and Jimmy Buffett appear in extended live concert scenes. Tom Petty, looking almost exactly the same as he does today, i.e., old, makes an in-studio appearance and REO Speedwagon is seen at a Tower Records meet and greet. It’s odd to see the plot of “us against The Man” revolve around boring, corporate-rock dinosaurs like the Eagles, Bob Seger, Foreigner and the Doobie Brothers which make up the station’s playlist. (The kind of music that punk rose up against a year or two earlier.)
The weirdly call-lettered QSKY is, of course, a fictional radio station. (They’re even located at “7-11 on your FM dial.” Huh?!) I’m not sure why they didn’t just go with KSKY or any other more believable set of calls. QSKY’s main competition in the movie is the more regularly-named KLAX.
I have a sticker from KLAX which is an actual Spanish language station in Los Angeles but I stuck it to some poster board years ago. Here's a couple from KSKY instead...

KSKY is a conservative News/Talk station in Dallas, Texas and licensed to Balch Springs, TX.

This is from when they carried a Christian format which lasted from 1963 until 2004.

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