Monday, November 14, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: FM

As much as I write here about TV and movies, I've never spent any time discussing another one of my favorite media, radio.  It is, after all, the namesake of my Internet handle "phillyradiogeek," and that's exactly what I am.  I love radio! I love the music, talk, jingles, production, everything. I especially love the radio of the era in which I grew up, the 70s and 80s. There was something very special about the way the best radio was produced during those decades, and I miss that kind of radio terribly.

I've been thinking of radio a lot lately, and that leads me to my pick for this week's Tuesday's Forgotten, the 1978 movie FM. FM is a comedy about the battle between the DJs and the bean counters at a fictional LA rock radio station.  When the station's sales manager signs an agreement to air corny plugs for the Army, the DJs, led by the program director/morning personality (Michael Brandon), stage an on-air protest and encourage the listeners to take their side.

There are colorful personalities, including Cleavon Little as the overnight jock and Martin Mull, making his big screen debut, as the wackiest DJ of all. There is also music from Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffet, Tom Petty, Queen, and Steely Dan, who performs the movie's titular song.

Somewhere in my collection I have this film recorded on VHS tape off of cable (yes, I recorded on videotape in the 21st century; don't judge me).  I'll have to dig it out and give it a look.

The plot of the film sounds so similar to WKRP In Cincinnati that I thought for sure the show was inspired by the film, but as far as I can tell, the two projects emerged the same year (1978) coincidentally.  However, the characters of the program directors from both projects were inspired by the same real life person.

Here now for you is the film's trailer.  Enjoy!


Lone Wolf said...

I don't know...I find it VERY hard to believe that these two projects came about coincidentally, especially when you consider how similar some of the characters are in each production. I'm guessing that there was a bit of entertainment espionage, but as far as which one was spying on the other, I have no idea...

Phillyradiogeek said...

Lone Wolf: I'd be shocked if WKRP wasn't inspired by the film, but I couldn't find any info on the 'Net confirming this. The film wasn't a big success, but WKRP certainly found an audience, even if CBS did its best to hide the show from the audience by bouncing it around the schedule so much.

Cory said...

I remember the ads for this movie and didn't find it on video until 2005 and when I watched it, I was just shocked at how bland and mainstream the "outlaw music" they were fighting for was. Boston is an "outlaw" band? Really?

I think the movie would have worked for me if the stuff they played wasn't the bland boring radio crap that drove me to punk rock in high school in the fight place.


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