Rock On Radio

From Christian Rock to Porn Rock . . . whatever that is.

• Radio News: Little podcasts sent wirelessly to your AM-FM device.

• Ozzy Osbourne, Blackie Lawless, Stryper, Public Enemy, Kool Moe Dee and Yoko Ono

One thing I liked a lot about my broadcast career was that I spent a lot of time hanging out down at the intersection of pop culture and society. Not just profiling artists or reporting who got snubbed in the Grammy nominations. When there was something afoot in the entertainment world that was making waves beyond the studios or, conversely, something in the news that artists or entertainers were responding to, my editors sent me out to cover it. From the cassette tape archives, here’s a sampling.

San Antonio, Texas, was where I met up with Stryper, a Christian metal band out of Orange County, California. In the early eighties they had some gold records and Grammy nominations. They said their theme of black and yellow stripes, all over their outfits and stage gear, symbolized the whip lashes of Jesus . . . which holds its own against the gore embraced by other, more devil-oriented metal bands. They slid into irrelevance and broke up in 1992, but reunited in 2003 and still release albums in these more accommodating, highly charged religious times.

How come they didn’t tell everybody that it was supposed to be some religious show?”

While I had little affinity for Stryper, I did get to see San Antonio’s River Walk and visit the Alamo, where a few years earlier, Ozzy Osbourne had urinated in the Plaza. Speaking of whom . . .

Ozzy and others were the target in the ’80s of something called “De-metaling,” a sort of conversion therapy aimed at kids led astray by their musical tastes. I was lucky in that someone in ABC‘s Los Angeles bureau did the in-person interview with the frantic mom and shipped it to NY:

“Ozzy Osbourne was no longer in control of Shannon’s life — Mom was.”

Even more insidious in the eighties – apparently – was Porn Rock. PORN ROCK!! This was something someone somewhere thought was really messing with kids’ heads. I don’t recall hearing that term in use. And I don’t know what exactly would comprise porn rock. If you Google it today, nothing comes up (although the closest search result is “Porn to Rock,” a 1999 compilation album that seems to have had actual porn stars singing on it). Anyway, my editors had me do a story on this scourge:

“I don’t see anything wrong with something that defuses a potentially lethal situation.”

I sincerely apologize for the “Styx and the Stones” line.

If heavy metal was taking its lumps in the ’80s, hip hop was being hammered mercilessly. A West Coast-East Coast war was taking rappers’ lives and rap concerts were devolving into violence too often. To rap’s defense came “Self Destruction,” an all-star single put together by the Stop the Violence Movement. It raised over a hundred grand that was donated to the Urban League.

“It’ll be one of the biggest records to emerge out of rap studios, definitely.”

And then there was Yoko. She had a show at the Whitney. I got to interview her a second time. (The first was in 1983 at the Dakota, when she wanted to ask John’s fans to celebrate his birthday, and not gather outside every December 8th, the day he was murdered.)

“.…with their pants down.”

Now, people who don’t always understand modern art often make it the butt of jokes. Not me!


(From a humorous ABC Radio News promotional pamphlet)

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