This is the year things started to change in L.A. – Punk and New Wave, which everybody “in the know” knew about for a couple years, was now an acknowledged piece of local Pop Culture and the popularity was spreading. Newspapers were also popping up – The L.A. Reader and L.A. Weekly were all over the place, talking about the hip new enclaves where “those in the know” hung out. Everybody talked about The Atomic Cafe and the place was jammed on the weekends. The food was kind of awful, but it was better than lunch at school most days.
You still believed in The Starwood – even though you weren’t actually old enough to drink, you had really great fake i.d. that said you were 23 and most people believed you – the ones who didn’t, you didn’t want to know about anyway. You’re still a Van Halen fan, even though they’ve hit the big time – but you can say you knew them when they were regulars at The Starwood. Now all your friends are talking about Madame Wong’s in Chinatown. 1979 is going to be amazing.
Radio was changing the landscape of Los Angeles in the late 1970s. After KROQ’s disastrous entry in the early 70s as a sort of Top-40 FM station, the station went through a period where they could no longer afford to pay the disc jockeys. And so many of them worked for free, or very little, in exchange for playing whatever they wanted – the spirit of freeform radio of the late 60s was now back with a vengeance in the late 1970s. And so KROQ became this collection of unhinged, eccentric and off-the-wall personalities and it proved to be hugely successful.
One of the most unhinged was Frazer Smith, whose haywire trips into the world of the unexplainable became something of a benchmark for KROQ’s reputation – along with a decidedly Punk/New Wave playlist, the unorthodox delivery and verbal mayhem made for addictive listening. And it was the perfect soundtrack for a city going through “the change”.
Here is an hour’s worth of Frazer Smith, from 7:30-8:30 pm on November 24, 1978.