MILESAGO - Features


by Peter Knox*

*Peter Knox was a member of The 69-ers and a founder member (as "Izzy Foreal") of The Fabulous Zarsoff Brothers.

This week I accidentally watched a few minutes of puerile morning television. A young man from a recording company was being interviewed by two Suits (male & female), who might well have been Generation X-ers, or younger. The record company has released albums by Mick Jagger and Willy Nelson, and the young record executive was full of enthusiasm for his company's decision to feature some of the senior citizens of rock because of their unique talents, which transcend vogue/fashion.

After showing some of Mick Jagger's video clip, the young record executive was raving about how talented Mr Jagger is. All the hair-sprayed, makeup-caked female Suit could say was "Yes, but he's 59 years old," over and over. (Does she have any inkling that female TV presenters have an even shorter shelf life than rock stars?)

This is where my manifesto/idea comes in. For a while now I've thought about all the senior citizens of rock who still make records, but have been excluded from airplay simply because they're not the Next Young Thing Ripe For Exploitation. I started thinking about this a few years back, when radio stations in Britain made an executive decision to not play any new Cliff Richard records. I'm no big fan of Cliff's later work myself, but here's an artist who had appeared in the British Top 30 every year since his first recording, suddenly being denied airplay because he was deemed too old.

The success of Carlos Santana's Supernatural (only a couple of years after Bruce Elder's ageist attack on him) is evidence enough for me that there is still a place on radio for older artists' new material.

Here in Australia, acts like Ross Wilson, Broderick Smith, Ross Hannaford and Russell Morris are still making fine records, but no radio station will play them. Mental As Anything's "Beetroot Stains" album is arguably their finest creative effort, but it gets no airplay (not even on Triple Jay, because The Mentals have chosen mainstream pop as their medium of expression). John Farnham, one of our most successful record sellers, gets none of his new stuff played, and Neil Finn's new stuff appears infrequently. The list goes on, and covers the entire spectrum of musical tastes.

At first, I thought of approaching radio stations with the idea of a segment featuring new releases by older rock artists. But since watching the puerile morning TV show, it has come to me that what would solve the problem and satisfy the need is an entire radio station devoted to playing this material. This way, we can circumvent the excuses of the arbiters of Cool (mainstream radio programmers, eg) and play everything that qualifies, regardless of our own musical tastes. Sure, play lists would probably need to be segmented into rock, country, etc. So long as we stay true to the manifesto of playing new material by artists excluded from airplay because of ageism.

It also came to me that we should seize an ironic opportunity, and present this stuff on AM radio -- for a couple of reasons: 1: Without having done a lot of research as yet, I'm assuming an AM radio licence would be cheaper than FM, because it's no longer a popular bandwidth. 2: There would be a certain irony in presenting material by artists that the Arbiters of Cool consider "dinosaurs," through a medium also considered out of fashion by those same arbiters.

A lot needs to be thought through, and I guess I'm trying to gauge the interest level from rock's senior citizens. Who might be interested in helping to get this up and running? We would probably need to form an incorporated body (the committee could meet via the internet), try to raise funds for a licence, etc and volunteer our time on air (or spend time pre-taping segments), or organise funding for paid on-air presenters.

I want to hear from you with ideas, expressions of interest, offers of help, facts, figures, etc. Please contact Izzy Foreal at

Or by mail:

Peter Knox
122 Lakeside Drive
Koonawarra NSW 2530.