ALICE COOPER's Show Saves FM From Itself

Andrew S. Hughes of Indiana's reports: Since January 2004, Alice Cooper has rescued classic rock radio from the FM Wasteland it has become as the host of "Nights With Alice Cooper", which can be heard locally from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays on WAOR-FM (95.3).

In most respects, Cooper's radio show hearkens to the early days of FM, when disc jockeys talked about the music and whatever else was on their minds and played what they wanted instead of selections from a highly limited, focus group-generated play list — the model for most commercial radio stations these days.

"I said, 'I'll tell stories about friends of mine, but I don't want a corporate play list," Cooper says by telephone from a tour stop in Milwaukee. "(The producers) looked at the time slot, 7 to midnight, and realized it's a dead spot. I said, 'Let me take the dead spot and see if I can build something out of it by playing the music they don't usually hear.' "

Listeners appear to have vindicated Cooper's belief in playing music of his choice: In most markets, "Nights With Alice Cooper" is No. 1 in its time slot.

"Think of the '60s, '70s and '80s and all the great bands and songs," he says. "You hear only 2 percent of them. I've got the other 98 percent of it. ... It was such a great, rich period of music, and I can't believe we let a bunch of guys in suits take over and say, 'These are the songs you're going to hear.' I think the worst word to come into rock 'n' roll was demographics."

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