It was twenty-six years ago today. U2 was opening(!) for Todd Rundgren at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, and my friend DD Thornton was there, interviewing the band at the start of their 1983 U.S. tour.
DD is a bit of a celebrity among the rock and roll faithful back home in North Carolina. She started doing radio shows at Wake Forest University in late 1977, on what had become known as Deaconlight, WFDD's late night rock and roll program. And for the next four years she introduced thousands of listeners to a range of music that they couldn't hear anywhere else on the radio in North Carolina (or most other places, for that matter). Progressive rock, new wave and punk were her stock in trade, what she termed "classic and current contemporary non-schlock-rock metropolitan music", in the days when Foreigner, the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac ruled the airwaves. I was lucky enough to discover Deaconlight at a time when I was eagerly seeking new sounds, and DD was a regular tour-guide for me into unknown musical territories. Among the first hearings I encountered on her shows were Jean Michel Jarre, Devo, the B-52s, and The Residents.
After WFDD management did away with all rock programming at the end of '81, DD went on to host a show at Winston-Salem Top-40 station, WKZL. Her New Generation Show on 'KZL did for the commercial market what Deaconlight had done for college radio over the previous four years. In fact, the show was so popular that DD started deejaying New Generation Nights at area nightclubs, and the radio station started working some of her musical choices into their regular mix. It was DD who convinced management to add R.E.M. to their playlist, making WKZL one of the first big commercial stations anywhere to play R.E.M. in high rotation. She also interviewed a number of now-legendary musical artists during this period, including Bono and The Edge, and Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats.
DD left radio in the mid-80's, but happily she's back at the mic again now with a new Deaconlight show on ErrorFM.com. After a twenty-year hiatus she is again introducing listeners to new sounds, both classic and contemporary. Catch her show weekdays from noon to two o'clock, Eastern time, and be sure to log into the chat room where you can request a song or talk music with the deejay and the other listeners.
Along with my friend Phil Pfaff, I credit DD with putting me on the path to musical enlightenment, and my ears have been the happier ever since. Rock on, DD!