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Airplay: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio (as seen on public television)

Dick Clark , Tom Donahue , mpt  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Airplay: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio (as seen on public television) + Legends of Folk: The Village Scene
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Product Details

  • Actors: Dick Clark, Tom Donahue, The Beatles, Wolfman Jack, Murray the K
  • Directors: mpt
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Topics Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 3, 2012
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006WPDKR2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,863 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The rise and fall of rock radio from the deejays that lived it

As aired on public television
Relive the rise and fall of rock radio with footage from all the eras
Hear from deejays Casey Kasem, Jerry The Geator Blavat, Dick Biondi, Raechel Donahue, Cousin Brucie Morrow and many more!
See vintage footage and sound of Alan Freed, Dick Clark, Wolfman Jack, Tom Donahue, Murray the K, Martha Jean The Queen Steinberg and others, plus The Beatles and Elvis!
Alan Freeds son talks about his dads involvement in the payola scandal

Maybe video didnt kill the radio star after all. Airplay: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio documents the history of rock and roll radio -- from the introduction of The Devil s Music by 1950s AM deejays to the FM pioneers who brought sex-drugs-and-rock to the airwaves in the 60s. Then witness the silencing of rock radio by government and big-business interests and, finally, see its promise of rebirth via satellite.
Hear from radio stars, and watch historic film footage in this award-winning documentary previously seen on public television. Featured deejays include Jerry The Geator Blavat, Dick Biondi, Raechel Donahue, Cousin Brucie Morrow, Martha Jean The Queen Steinberg, Dan Ingram, Meg Griffin and more. Plus, Lance Freed talks about his father Alan Freed s own rise and fall in radio. Musicians include David Crosby, Grace Slick, Little Steven Van Zandt, Bob Weir, Ray Manzarek (The Doors) and others.
Plus, see vintage footage and hear recordings of radio and rock greats like Dick Clark, Tom Donahue, The Beatles, Wolfman Jack, Murray the K, Elvis and many, many more!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bought for my Dad + I liked it myself! April 27, 2012
By JRo
Verified Purchase
My dad grew up listening to a deejay in Philadelphia named Hy Litt on AM radio. Airplay was a gift for him. I watched it with him and was surprised how much I got into a film for the baby boomer generation. I am a music guy who listens to sixties music and enjoys the classics like Dead, Doors and Airplane. I came for the soundtrack and stayed for the movie because it was more than a baby boomer nostalgia trip.

It's more about how artists in America wind up getting the boot of government and corporate America on their neck for bucking the powers that be with anything fresh and new. Also a not so subtle subtext of racism and how the DJs fought it in the music they played and the dances and concerts they held for teenage kids from the 50s and early 60s. I see the parallel between hip hop artists today and the early rock and roll DJs.

Not as big a topic as "Inside Job" or "Waiting for Superman" but it has lots of appeal, with a different look than most docus. Editing rocks. Style reminds me of the Kid stays In Picture docu about Robert Evans, editing and design that's lots of movement and out of the ordinary.

The basic story:

Birth of AM Radio: The first part shows how the white AM station owners saw how much young people liked rhythm and blues sung by African American artists played by African American disk jockeys and imitated them with white Deejays. These personalities talked to kids and played them songs that drove their parents crazy.

Personality DJs Across America: A tour of America's popular DJs in about 1960. Here's the kind of story told; a New York DJ named Cuz Brucie is sso tight with his teenage listeners, when a kid runs away from home, the DJ right on the air negotiates a way back with the kid and his parents.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Documentary! April 26, 2012
Verified Purchase
Airplay: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio is a very insightful look into the birth of Rock n Roll Radio in the 50's, starting with the WDIA (Memphis) DeeJays (which included the one and only BB King) all the way up to the birth of satellite radio in the 80's. From Elvis's first record through The Payola scandal and the birth of Top 40 radio the documentary is beautifully told through the DeeJays that lived the experiences; Casey Kasem, Alan Freed, Rufus Thomas, Dick Biondi, Jocko Henderson and Cousin Brucie to name just a few. 60's and 70's jocks tell about the opening of the FM dial and the newfound freedom to program radio shows as they saw fit. Murray The K, Pete Fornatele, Alison Steele, Tom Donahue, JJ Jackson, Jim Ladd, Scott Muni and others. The list goes on and on as DeeJays from all over the country were interviewed for the documentary. Rock stars, Grace Slick, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills also make appearances and share their stories and provide insight to the ever changing world of Rock Radio. Fast paced, very informative, highly entertaining and a great blast from the past. I could not recommend this more! I only wish it were longer or a multiple DVD series like Ken Burns' Jazz series.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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Being a lifelong radio buff I was very excited to learn of the DVD release of the 2008 documentary "Airplay: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio". One of the primary reasons I ordered this disc was the fact that the film had aired on public television. I had visions of a program that would be something akin to the outstanding PBS series "Pioneers of Television". But alas, this one does not quite measure up to those lofty standards. Nevertheless, for those who lived through those halcyon days of rock & roll radio and who long for a time when music on the radio really mattered "Airplay" is a program that is probably still worth a look.

At age 60 I am a little too young to remember the earliest days of rock & roll radio. Actually, as the legendary Memphis DJ and recording artist Rufus Thomas points out in the film the term "rock & roll" is actually a misnomer. What all those teenagers were turning on to in the early and mid 1950's was actually "rhythm & blues" which would eventually morph into what we now call rock & roll. I envy them because it must have been an incredibly exciting time. One of the strengths of "Airplay" is that it presents interviews with a number of the most influential deejays of the period. Among the featured deejays are Jerry Blavat from Philadelphia, Dick Biondi from Chicago, "Cousin Brucie" Morrow from New York City and the legendary Martha Jean "The Queen" Steinberg who at the time was an enormously influential African-American broadcaster at WDIA in Memphis. "Airplay" also features several rare clips of the legendary Alan Freed as well as an extensive interview with his son Lance. In those days disc jockeys really mattered and it seems that every teen had their favorite.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AIRPLAY: Provocative, Entertaining, Informative December 2, 2012
AIRPLAY brilliantly portrays America's post World War II music and cultural revolution, that forever pushed the boundaries of social, personal and innovative expression. Gilson and Travis use radio, and the emergence of rock and roll, to tell the larger story of a maturing baby boomer generation that, while on its way to create innovative music, found the time to confront war, racism. sexism and provinicialism. The story is lively, sobering and riveting, as it explores the convergence and impact of radio, technology and and or course "the music". It sheds a new and more personal look at the courage of DJ's who risked careers and well being, to promote a new music and cultural change. Revisiting the the role of the DJ, sheds new light, and gives due, to their historical importance. AIRPLAY also finds time to explore the often inherent tension between corporate profit and creativity.The DJ's, their families, friends and musicians serve as personal guides through this truly historic epoch. Like "the 60's" the narrative is chronicled in a thoughtful, insightful and, of course, playful way.
For those of us who were there, Travis and Gilson help us remember. And for those who weren't, this is a truly great, entertaining watch with serious historical significance. If you are trying to figue out how we got here, AIRPLAY is an entertaining piece of the puzzle. Simply great!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock n Roll era Radio History
For boomers this is a most enjoyable stroll down memory lane, for other generations it is 20th century pop culture history lesson, focused on R n R music, and all the personality... Read more
Published 7 months ago by TJ
2.0 out of 5 stars Lackluster
Short and sweet.....I read Richard Neer's book called "FM: The Rise & Fall of Rock Radio" and I loved it. Therefore when I saw this PBS Special, I was naturally interested. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Robert G Alfano
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun But Mundane
A decent, fun, and somewhat informative history of rock radio. If you know nothing, or very little on the subject, this is a good starting point. Read more
Published 14 months ago by M.T. Daffenberg
3.0 out of 5 stars DC
It had lots of good information about the evolution of rock radio, but I was expecting more about the music and more music. It was hard to finish it.
Published 15 months ago by David T. Cady
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember. When!
What a truly great documentary. Brought back countless memories. I tell people all the time you had yo be there. Read more
Published 16 months ago by M L Penza
4.0 out of 5 stars An updated view on radio
Finally, a radio documentary that goes beyond the payola scandal and into an often neglected portion of radio history. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Timothy Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating.
Don't know how they could put more into this program. It left me wanting to watch more of it. Many thanks for your excellent procduct, packaging, & service.
Published 20 months ago by Ed Weichsler
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie - great recap of rock history...
My husband and I loved this documentary. What a terrific recap of the most historical moments in rock radio. Read more
Published 22 months ago by RobinL
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Have
A "Must Have" for the library of BabyBoomers ~ especially for those of us involved in our generation's music and broadcasting.
Published on May 3, 2012 by Bebahru
5.0 out of 5 stars A blast from the past!
This is a baby boomers dream --- and a piece of history for Gen X and Gen Y. The author presents a well-researched piece on the DJ's of the era. Read more
Published on April 25, 2012 by Holly A. Reich
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