We’ve had many people enquiring about what The Rockfest is, and how it came about. The following intro will give you some idea of what/who we are, and what we do.
The Rockfest was born in about 2005.
When I approached the CEO of 1485AM Radio Today, Dr. Ivan May, with the view to presenting a classic rock show on the Rosebank-based community station, he was quite happy with the idea, and I started presenting a three hour show on a Friday night, repeated on a Wednesday night.
After having presented my show, dubbed “The RockIt Scientist”, for a few months on Radio Today, it dawned on me that there were a number of other presenters, all of whom were household names in their own right, whose talents and personalities were being wasted by them not being on air anymore, having been “discarded” by the major radio stations, who felt that they were either too “old”, or that their music taste and presentation was “old fashioned”. I had previously worked with Chris Prior, Phil Wright and Rafe Lavine on various other radio shows / stations since the early 80’s, and I thought that they would be very happy to be able to come back on air, onto a radio station that had no prescribed playlists or restrictions, and feature the music that made them so famous in South Africa. Dr. May agreed to this, and I approached Phil, Rafe, Chris and David Blood, all of whom were indeed happy to be on air, playing the music they love.
When the various shows started, from Friday through Monday, I called it The Rockfest. The idea of the concept was that you could listen to seasoned, knowledgeable, and in the case of the aforementioned four individuals, very professional presenters, featuring unplaylisted, unrestricted music, mainly in the jazz, blues and specifically, classic rock fields, thereby bringing back the glory days of radio when presenters had free choice of the music they wanted to play. The emphasis was on the music, but it also allowed the presenter’s personality and knowledge to be a factor in the presentation, unlike playlisted, formatted shows where the role of the presenter has been relegated to that of a “talking head”.
The Rockfest grew. After a while, I had brought on nearly 15 presenters, males and females, seven nights a week, all playing various forms of music, once again, free of restrictions. All the presenters were unpaid volunteers, doing it for the passion, and love, of music. The Rockfest became quite popular, and we staged three Rockfest gigs, at various venues, the intention being to market Radio Today and The Rockfest, as well as to highlight and promote South African artists / bands that, by virtue of the fact that they play non-commercial music, seldom get airplay in this country. The Rockfest on Radio Today came to an abrupt end in February 2009. Management ended it in a particularly cavalier and brutal fashion, but that’s another story!
Then, in early December 2009, The Rockfest found a new home, in 93.8FM Midrand Stereo. It happened just as quickly as it ended on Radio Today, and I approached many of the original Rockfest presenters, a number of whom have elected to come on board. Station manager Richard Jones and consultant Hanz Stricker have adopted the non-formatted playlist approach for the evening (Rockfest) presenters, and, once again, from 8pm til late, classic rock / progressive rock / alternative / metal / blues / 80’s rock and even 70’s disco, can be heard on the station, seven nights a week. There are a number of new presenters, many of whom have never been on radio before, but all the presenters have a common goal: to play the best possible music on 93.8FM, thus ensuring that the station is one of the very few in the country that caters for the more mature, discerning music lover who is tired of being spoonfed a daily diet of commercial pop, rap, R&B, etc, that forms the playlists of most other radio stations.
Each presenter is strongly encouraged to feature South African music on their shows, and, in many cases, the presenters are conducting interviews with South African bands / artists. The Rockfest is also going to be, in conjuction with Benjy Mudie, heavily involved in promoting the Monsters of Rock concert, featuring Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash, in late April. I will be doing live and telephonic interviews with various band members from all three bands, on my RockIt Scientist show in due course. It’s also my intention to restart the Rockfest gigs, and I already have a large number of bands, known and not-so-well-known, that are keen to perform under the banner of The Rockfest on 93.8FM.
The Rockfest has a website / blog (www.rockfest.co.za), and many of the presenters’ playlists can be seen on the site. The interest in The Rockfest is starting to build up again, and we are all very grateful that Steve Milo, Richard Jones and Hanz Stricker have given us the opportunity, and the means, to get The Rockfest back on the road, and on the air.
There is also a strong possibility that 93.8FM will have audio streaming in the near future, and it’s the station’s intention to approach DSTV for an audio signal, thus affording listeners throughout the country the opportunity of hearing the broadcasts.