Cover Story: 09/09/09 Is Beatles Day!
By Mike BaconThe Beatles
(© Apple Corps Ltd, 2009)
Radio celebrates the release of the Fab Four’s remastered catalogue and
The Beatles: Rock Band video game.
09/09/09 isn’t “666” upside down, nor is it a missing clue related to the “Paul Is Dead” myth that swept the music universe decades ago. September 9, 2009 is an enormous celebration for fans of Liverpool’s Fab Four, thusly dubbed “Beatles Day” on 100 radio stations all across the country. Each station is eagerly promoting the release of The Beatles’ entire re-mastered catalogue and the much-ballyhooed unveiling of The Beatles: Rock Band video game by breaking from normal programming from Labor Day weekend to 9/9/09 with hours of special content, playback of the newly minted masters, contests and other Beatles fare.
The main thrust of the campaign, the CDs, are packaged with replicated original UK album art, including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. On the same date, two new Beatles boxed CD collections (Beatles In Stereo, Beatles In Mono) will also be released.
The albums have been re-mastered by engineers at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London over a four-year period utilizing state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release.
Participating radio stations are promoting the event accordingly, with some stations, such as Rock WRXP/New York, going the extra mile (or 1000) by broadcasting The Rock Show with Matt Pinfield and Leslie Fram remotely from Abbey Road Studios on the big day (a prospect that has ‘RXP programmer and show co-host, Fram, ”giddy." We’re jealous, LF). 101.9 RXP will be giving away Rock Band video games, the CDs, catalogues, and airing a special edition of “RXP In The UK,” playing British Invasion bands.
Triple A KCMP “The Current” in Minneapolis will be celebrating the Beatles throughout the month of September with various on-air and online components. The Current will have CDs, the video game, an Xbox Game System, and a Beatles Gold Record plaque to give away to its listeners.
While The Beatles: Rock Band weighs in heavily on the minds of its listeners, KCMP PD Jim McGuinn says, “We decided to use the re-mastering of the CDs as a great excuse to try to re-examine the impact of the Beatles on music. So we’re building out a big web component with our hosts splitting up reviews of each record, with guest commentaries from local writers on topics like the movies, impact on fashion, pop culture, several mini-polls (Best covers? Best film? Most overrated songs?), and thought starters to engage the audience to participate, plus a big listener driven countdown to wrap it all up at the end of September. Along the way we’re going to review an album a day with each DJ picking a track as we run through the catalogue.”
(© Apple Corps Ltd, 2009)
“While we’re really known here for our commitment to new music and bands,” McGuinn continues, “why not try to put the Beatles into a new context, not just a worshipful classic rock perspective, but from the viewpoint of a station that is at the forefront of music and new music? That’s the fun part about this for me.”
Classic Rock 97 Rock (WGRF/Buffalo) has been getting its audience involved by taking listener votes at their website to tabulate the “Top 97 Beatles Songs According To You” to air on 9/9 beginning at 9:09 a.m.
In addition, 97 Rock has digitally created a two-hour Beatles concert featuring live versions of Beatles classics performed by the band’s members during solo tours. The broadcast lets the listener experience what it might sound like if the Beatles were alive and well and performing together today. The concert will air on Labor Day at 6 p.m. and again on September 9th at 9 p.m.
At KINK/Portland, resident Beatles expert, Archer, has assembled clips of the Beatles talking about many of their songs, which KINK will play as intros. They’ll play the entire Beatles re-mastered catalogue in “AlphaBeaticle” order starting at 6 a.m. “The Beatles get credit for reinventing Rock and Roll to the style that is still prevalent today,” says KINK PD Dennis Constantine. “Without the Beatles, radio would sound completely different today.”
“This has been one of the best classic rock promotions roll out in several years,” adds WCSX/Detroit PD Doug Podell. “Not only has this given a shot in the arm to classic rock stations, but also to the Beatles, their fans and Beatles collectors around the world”.
While many across the country count themselves as Beatles aficionados, one radio personality in particular takes the release of the re-mastered catalogue extremely close to heart: “As a radio guy, music lover and lifelong Beatles fan, it is an honor for me to not only have these sets two weeks early to review and produce for my syndicated Breakfast With The Beatles radio show, but to even have lived to see these re-masters come to fruition!,” WMGK/Philadelphia host Andre Gardner shares. “For many years, Beatles fans have lamented the, by and large, sub-par quality that was evident in the original CD re-masters, and now...FINALLY...we can hear this precious material the way it was meant to be heard. Allen Rouse and his team at Abbey Road have done a remarkable job, and even with the bar set very high as far as expectations go, I think he exceeded them.” Click here to read about the re-mastering process, as Retro-Active's Ken Sharp recently spoke with Abbey Road engineer Allan Rouse, who provided the inside skinny on this illustrious project.
(© Apple Corps Ltd, 2009)
The Philadelphia Classic Rocker is also adding a texting component to their campaign, “We'll be playing a Beatles song every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on 9-9-09. When listeners hear one, they can TEXT the name of their favorite Beatle - John, Paul, George or Ringo to MGKMGK (645645),” WMGK Promotions Director Dan Fein explains. “If our computer selects their text, they'll win the fourteen album stereo box set and a copy of the Beatles: Rock Band video game on their choice of Xbox, PlayStation or Wii.”
Triple A WRNR/Baltimore is commemorating the re-issues with a clever “Pick-A-Paul Song” contest that challenges listeners to select a Paul McCartney song and rewrite a verse or two in an attempt to “perfect perfection.” The winner nabs a trip for two to see Sir Paul at Fenway Park in Boston. Tickets to see him perform at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C will also be given away in a week-long celebration of The Beatles music. The big payoff will come in the form of forced listening call-in contests and giveaways, culminating in winners being qualified for a trip for two to visit Liverpool to take the Magical Mystery Tour.
This is the first time that 100 radio stations in major markets across the U.S. will break from traditional programming on one weekday to highlight one artist through music, features, contests and special programming. At the forefront of this monstrous radio marketing endeavor is EMI Music North America Radio Marketing Manager, Angelo Scrobe. Angelo approached FMQB some months ago with his idea of The Beatles taking over the American airwaves. It seemed like a daunting task at the time. Now a few days in, and with his campaign in full gear, the end result couldn’t be any more clear – 9/9/09 is truly Beatles Day.
(I'm loving this Beatle's Day :)