It’s a new documentary called “New Wave: Dare to Be Different”about a cool little New York radio station back in the 80s. A real punk David & Goliath tale. WLIR-FM was a hip, low-powered station broadcasting from Long Island, the crowded suburbs of New York City. Management and the crazy staff made a decision in 1982 to abandon the corporate rock of the day and switch all their energies and airtime to the new music scene. That meant out with the Grateful Dead, Charlie Daniels, Styx, Billy Joel and Journey. Taking their place was the new wave sound of Nick Lowe, the Clash, U2, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, the B-52, Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Talking Heads and Soft Cell. Watching the film you witness a dumpy little station (it was a hole!) broadcasting from the burbs. You meet a lovable, obsessed crew of DJs, phone volunteers, record shop owners, club promoters, record executives and clever publicist all before the arrival MTV. Some say that MTV’s appearance happened all because of WLIR’s sound and the powerful new music scene that was unfolding.
WLIR was the little musical engine that could. Along with KROQ in LA, it helped change the music world in America. To have been there, sitting in the front row of this zany story, is one of my proudest moments. I used to do the afternoon shift, doubling as music director with an office that you couldn’t even walk through the door of because of the constant avalanche of new vinyl everywhere. Yeah, those were the days.