Ever notice how bland the airwaves seem to be these days? Remember when radio was the place you went to discover new music instead of hearing the same forty songs played over and over again? Well Darrell Wayne remembers those days. He remembers the time when even the peak-hour DJs took risks and played the unknown songs that they thought were good and not just the music green-lit by corporate heads. That’s why Wayne started KTHO (590 AM & 96.1 FM) in Lake Tahoe, California, to help bring back that impulsive and exciting feeling that radio used to have.
Wayne knows what made radio great back in those days. As the program director and host of “The Insane Darrell Wayne” morning show for the world famous KROQ from 1976 to 1982, he fondly recalls the days when the station was “as crazy as it sounded on the air”.
Part of what made that atmosphere possible back in then was the fact that the station ran under co-operative ownership: the station owners gave their DJs the trust and control to make decisions about what to play or say on the air. So when Wayne hired KROQ DJs like Jed The Fish, Jimmy Rabbit, and Chuck Randell he gave them the freedom to make their shows different from everything else on the air, a quality sorely missing from modern radio.
This is why KTHO isn’t corporate run. The main focus of the stations isn’t to maximize profits but to provide the most exciting and entertaining radio for its audience. One of the stations flagship programs is “The Latest From The Greatest”, the classic rock show dedicated to playing the new hits from musical legends such as Neil Young, Aerosmith, Foreigner, Ringo Starr, ZZ Top, Devo, Meatloaf, and more.
Darrel noticed that most classic rock stations only would play the old favorite songs of iconic bands but nothing else while other stations only played the hit singles of new modern bands. This left most famous bands from 10 to 40 years ago in the lurch without an outlet for their new music that they were producing. Darrel thought this was a tragic state of affairs and so he created “The Lastest From The Greatest” to redefine the meaning of classic rock by playing more than just hit songs from 20 or 30 years ago. He gives a modern voice to most iconic bands of rock of the 50’s all the way to New Wave and Classic rock of the 90’s and beyond.
KTHO also features local Tahoe events and live concert broadcasts in addition to talk shows such as Nights with Alice Cooper, Little Steven’s Underground Garage, and shows hosted by broadcasting hall of famers: Ed Krook, Curtis Fong, Bill Kingman, and others.
Wayne is so dedicated to medium of radio because he’s been working with it ever since he his teen days. When he was a 15-year-old kid growing up in Anaheim, California, Wayne was already fascinated with radio and started working at the local station. For two and a half years he worked at the station fixing equipment, doing audio mixing, and performing pretty much any technical or engineering job they needed him to do until he graduated from high school.
Even in college, Wayne spent more time hanging out at the university’s radio station then he did going to class. Soon enough, he packed his bags and moved out to Riverside to work as a late night DJ. It’s a joy and passion that can’t help but leak onto the air for all who tune in to KTHO at 590 AM or 96.1 FM.
But you don’t need to live in Tahoe to get in on its excitement; KTHO is available streaming online at www.kthoradio.com or if you just want to know more about “The Latest From The Greatest” show then you can check out its website at www.latestfromthegreatest.com. Darrell also has plans to expand the station’s coverage into Los Angeles and possibly even to satellite radio in the near future.
You can check out the station’s facebook at www.facebook.com/kthoradio for extra information and updates.
For Wayne, radio is about the spontaneity of the broadcasting to millions of people live. Anything can happen. If a DJ has a story they want to tell or a CD they want to play, then they can do it. If someone off the streets of Tahoe stops by the station because they have something interesting to say, then a DJ just might put him on the air. It’s a feeling that you don’t hear as much in the increasingly homogenized landscape of commercial radio, but it’s exactly that kind of magic that Wayne is keeping alive and kicking.