Building on the last post’s theme of everything going to streaming, late night radio also feels like one that suffered a lot, too. Specifically for teens.
Loveline was a touchstone of teenage life. And I mean the core team of the show with Dr. Drew and Adam Carolla. The show played late at night when there wasn’t much else to do, especially on Sundays, and it had humor, honesty, life lessons, music and interviews. It basically was all you needed. Anything you didn’t like (A lot of band interviews felt like they ran too long) you could just mentally tune out for a few minutes until the next segment.
It was a way to get in touch with adults or get answers to questions you didn’t even think of asking. Or just getting an idea of what other teens had going on in their lives, as a point of comparison. It was crucial in escaping the bubble of your home life.
To this day, every time I hear Clocks by Coldplay, I’m instantly brought back to Adam reading the end lines to the show, concluding with ‘Mahalo’ as it all fades out back to the music on KROQ.
One of my favorite playlists on Spotify is the collection of Loveline bumpers. I really love all kinds of bumper music for that kind of nostalgia it triggers. Same with the playlist of Coast to Coast AM bumpers. Hearing “Midnight in the Desert” brings me back to when I was listening to old “Ghost to Ghost” episodes saved to my phone while I was in the middle of nowhere in Russia with my wife’s family. No cell connection. No lights meant no light pollution. About 2AM, my wife came and woke me up to look at the sky and I’d never seen so many stars in my life.
But, much like Coast to Coast, nostalgia feels better than the current iterations. Coast to Coast is basically unlistenable now due to politics becoming a real-life threat with Covid, January 6th, and other conspiracies being openly enabled and peddled by the former commander in chief. What once was a tongue-in-cheek celebration of psychics, aliens and ghosts became a place for the alt-right to feel safe to grow their audience.
Loveline lost their credibility in a not-too-different manner. Dr. Drew had already been on the shitlist of quite a few people from his reality shows. I read his books and watched his shows and wanted to do my best to defend him. Hell, he repeatedly was brought up as a board certified physician! He should know what he’s talking about, right? But at the start of the Covid-19 lockdowns, he revealed how out of the loop he was. The quote that broke me was him saying that we’ll get through this quickly because of the name of the virus. He then went on to explain the “19” meant there were 18 earlier iterations that came and went. The problem is that in reality it’s actually short for “Corona Virus Disease from 2019“. If he couldn’t be bothered to look up that information, that’s scary. He assumed something but spoke it with confidence on national TV. I knew there was a reason he was a darling on the Fox News Channel. And Adam is well documented for being just as bad for the exact same shit, saying women aren’t funny and that because of cancel culture, comedians aren’t allowed to exist anymore. The difference is Adam was just a comedian, so he was never expected to be educated.
And, honestly, switching political parties happens, especially with old, rich, white dudes. But the thing was is that both of these guys were important figures in the lives of teens. Anyone who was worried about coming out, or too scared to ask questions to their parents came to these guys. And now seeing them embrace the political party of intolerance feels so hypocritical and a complete 180 of everything they represented 25 years ago.
I entered college in 2002. Trying to keep my budget under control, we didn’t have cable TV or a DVR since that stuff was still stupid expensive. And piracy was in its infancy. BitTorrent was just coming into prominence by 2005. By then, I joined a group that traded exclusively in Loveline-related content. It was called Goat-based in reference to a running gag from Adam. There was a lot of running gags on the shows, and even bits that got new life online because of the work of people animating them.
That private BitTorrent tracker enabled me to access many years worth of old material. I managed to contribute some stuff myself, too. I learned how to record TV and radio on my computer. It was a great community. Some of my best summer memories of college were staying up until about 7AM playing Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst on my PC with old Loveline episodes in the background. Next to me the window was open, letting the cool summer Seattle air chill the room. Or when I would drive out to Ballard Bowl to play rhythm games into the wee hours of the night because it was a 24/7 bowling alley. It was there I met some lifelong friends, and even got them hooked on Pepsi Blue, a flavor that came and went all too fast.
Like many things online, especially BitTorrent trackers, Goat-based met its fate around April of 2012. I shouldn’t even say its name, since it was a privately ran site dealing in things that shouldn’t be shared. It’s so quirky to honor the secrecy that online trackers require, which seems paramount up until the point of them disappearing. But the love was gone long before then. Adam left the show in 2005 to host his own morning show, the scheduling of which made it impossible to do both. While the show was entertaining, the timing of it sucked hard, and the audience couldn’t choose between both shows easily. Then Loveline itself had more shuffling of co-hosts and reboots and podcasts and comebacks that would make the Rolling Stones blush. Meanwhile they moved back into TV for their own shows. And many podcasts starring these guys. Heck, it’s his own podcast network. I always lose a little respect for each person that goes on it, though.
The show lives on, as it did before either Dr. Drew or Adam joined on. And it will probably continue as it’s a format that’s needed in the lives of teens. But I’m far from a teenager now. The show’s target demographic is more than half my age. Although oddly it now airs at a far earlier time. Funny how that works out.
Ultimately, I wish I could back to having a reliable live night time radio show like Loveline, or even Coast to Coast. SiriusXM for a long time had a show called Jonesy’s All-Night Truck Stop on their Road Dog channel. It was literally just like 6 hours of open lines of truckers calling in to talk about whatever the hell was on their mind. No politics. No news. No nonsense. Just like being a part of a side conversation at a diner. Once Art Bell went psycho and bailed on his contract, that left a void, and soon after, Coast to Coast was brought back to SiriusXM taking over that time slot. So that a had few good years up until 2015 decided to thoroughly bury that show with the new breed of lunatics.
Every so often, I’m reminded of Loveline because of the few books on my bookshelf that end up catching my eye from the show. And because of the multiple times the show has ended, there’s a few nostalgic rambling posts that get resurrected on Facebook a few times a year under the whole “WANNA POST SOMETHING THAT WAS POPULAR WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER? EH? EHHH?” guise.
I think going forward, I’m going to use my blog to get out these nostalgic thoughts, once and for all, without worry of the audience being just the diminishing Facebook audience, or a character limit on Twitter. I still have more to say about KROQ, and radio in general, but I’ll save that for the next post.