Irving Azoff - who listens to the radio
Irving Azoff - who listens to the radio

What do Weezer, the Eagles and Christina Aguilera have in common? Well, starting next month, they will be one of a number of artists launching their own radio programs. Under the banner of A.P.E., (artist personal experience – a corporate term if we ever heard one), July will see these artists choose songs, take to the mic and become DJs.

It’s run by Clear Channel, the massive super company, and the press release only describes the distribution as digital (but that can include digital radio) – and through applications on the iPhone and Blackberry. It’s clear how this came about – old industry stalwart Irving Azoff manages the Eagles and Aguilera, and is Chairman of A.P.E.

If Azoff is a meaningless name to you, his long a sordid career is work a look-see. He’s been at it since the 60s and was one of the biggest movers in music from then til the 80s. Tales of record company backstabbing, drug taking, outrageous spending and general debauchery usually involves Azoff (and his rivals like David Gerffen). His reputation is of a no nonsense tough guy (although he is short in stature – a Napoleon figure), and a ruthless business man.

This whole project has a huge whiff of big business. Congrats to a.p.e. for touching on 3 huge demographics – yuppies, fratboys and teenaged girls – on launch. There is nothing cool or indie about this. Unless the programming blows our socks off.

The best we can hope for is the Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour – which may now be sadly over. But that show was not done for fame, and kept a quirky charm. Do we expect that of Don Henley? Or will it end up like yesterday’s sports heros, mumbling through boring anecdotes?

Or even better – what if this is the new band zine? Band podcasts are pretty much dead, but perhaps this can turn into a great vehicle for bands to communicate their individuality directly to fans.

We hold our cynical tongues a bit because we love Weezer. And if some more of our favourites are on the list to be announced, hey, we will be right there (unless we’re paying for it). We adore hearing (or reading and watching) artists talk about the music they love. But we think it’ll be a diversion for the fans rather than anything ground breaking.

Billboard has the story –

If you want to find out more about the fascinating Irving Azoff and music business in the 80s, check out Frederic Dannen’s Hit Men – one of the greatest music books ever.

We took our photo from Azoff’s recent appearance at D7.