It doesn't take much to get former FM 100 DJ Jon Scott going.
"It was a moment in time," he says, bubbling over with classic Classic Rock triumphalism. "It was a moment the likes of which nobody had ever seen before and nobody ever will see again." He's referring to a day in February 1967, when the 20-year-old Memphis superstation said goodbye to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and hello to Iron Butterfly and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Scott says the effort to shake things up kicked into high gear in 1971 when he played Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner," and the station's switchboard lit up from callers wanting to either complain or cheer. The response gave the station a real sense of its enormous reach and proof there was a market waiting to be tapped.
"If we wanted to take a break and smoke a joint, we'd put on something a little longer," Scott says, describing an unprecedented shift in media culture as the old guard faded away and new kids like Scott, Mike Powell, and Ron Olson introduced extended drum solos to an enormous far-ranging listening audience. Previously, rock and soul were strictly AM, and with a grandfather-clause-protected broadcast range several times larger than usually allowed by the FCC, FM 100 quickly became a hitmaker.
Scott says the music industry quickly took notice of the regional powerhouse that helped launch ZZ Top's career and is credited with popularizing artists like Bowie and Billy Joel. That meant access, and access means good stories.
In the mid-1970s, the station partnered with Midtown venues like Lafayette's Music Room and the Ritz to live broadcast concerts by artists like Joel and Tom Waits.
"The station's all corporate now," Scott grumbles, acknowledging that if anybody's going to recognize the station's milestone, it's going to be the original jocks.
Sunday, May 7th at 3 p.m., Scott and fellow record-spinners Powell, Olson, Greg Hamilton, Gary Phillips, Carter Davis, Leon Griffin, Henry Nelson, and Mitch McCracken will gather at Lafayette's Music room to tell stories from the early days of FM rock. A VIP concert featuring the LaFayette's All-Star band follows with "surprise" appearances throughout the evening.