By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
This jumble of words, painting a vista of zigzags logged during a life dedicated to the promotion of melody, harmony and lyrical wordplay, comes because today is my last day in service to the pop community, which I have observed and reported on for more than two decades.
This jumble of words, crafted after much thought, is my goodbye to Pure Pop Radio. Since 1995, I have brought the best of the grandest statements of talented independent pop writers and musicians to the public on the radio and in countless reviews and articles. Due to ongoing health issues, I am closing up shop, although my work over the last eight years will remain, archived and available for all to see in these pages.
I began Pure Pop Radio after two previous radio shows didn’t work out. My first was called Lost Treasures and Guilty Pleasures; the idea was to play rare, deep album cuts and bonus tracks from 45s and 12-inch singles. After only a couple of weeks, I had played most of what I had envisioned playing and subsequently junked the format. I moved on to an all-Beatles show, incorporating group and solo recordings. Much to my surprise, this got boring after a relatively short period of time. No one was more surprised than me; I’m the biggest Beatles and solo Beatles fan on the planet, but I longed for the variety that only a wide selection of artists could bring.
Enter Pure Pop Radio–pop, meaning both popular and the catchy two- to three-minute songs I grew up listening to on the radio in the sixties, and pure, meaning honest, hook-filled songwriting and performance. As the weekly show quickly grew (the weekly show eventually became a 24-hour internet radio station), it began to showcase indie artists I discovered reading pop fanzines such as Audities and Popsided. I worked fervently behind the scenes to gather songs to play, calling artists from home and from pay phones in airports (my day job sometimes involved traveling).
Early on, I began interviewing artists both in-person and on the telephone, from 10cc’s Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley, Andrew Gold, all three members of Klaatu (Terry Draper, John Woloschuk, and Dee Long) and the Knack’s Doug Fieger to Jeffrey Foskett, Emitt Rhodes, Bill Lloyd and indie popster Ray Paul. Through the years, interviews became more important to me; I enjoyed talking to artists and finding out what made them tick.
There is usually a defining moment in one’s life that kicks their passion up a notch; for me, that was when I discovered the music of the Spongetones on a Borders Books and Music listening station. Their then-current album was Textural Drone Thing; I listened to the entire album, mesmerized by the group’s catchy, pure pop approach. My life was changed during those moments; I contacted the group’s Jamie Hoover by email and told him so, in so many fanboy words. Over the years, Jamie and Steve Stoeckel became frequent guests and friends; in 2000, on their way up to New York to play a show, the group stopped in to WEBR, the station from which I broadcast, and played acoustically and answered questions for an hour that remains one of my favorite achievements.
Another favorite achievement is my two-hour interview with XTC’s Andy Partridge, around the time of the group’s Apple Venus album, during which we spoke about the band’s catalog and much more. And there are more–many, many more moments, including interviews with melodic pop’s elite artists from Lisa Mychols and Scott Gagner to the Davenports’ Scott Klass and the late John Wicks, whom I was proud to call my close friend; we spent many a lunch hour back-and-forthing and logged many a musical adventure when he lived near me here in Northern Virginia.
During the last few years, I have had to deal with health issues that sometimes curtailed my activity. Lately, that has become harder to deal with; I found that, during certain periods of time, I was unable to continue working on Pure Pop Radio, the internet radio station, so I took that off the air. And now, I find myself mostly unable to work on reviews and articles for this website. The only thing to do was to take care of myself and close the door on Pure Pop Radio in all of its forms.
I will miss being here, reporting on the latest and greatest catchy, melodic pop being produced by indie pop artists from all over the world. I will still be around, of course, enjoying the latest sounds that strike my fancy and talking about them on social media. But my days writing reviews and articles are done.
I apologize if, in this essay, I didn’t mention you or you, even; this jumble of thoughts was never meant to be all-encompassing. My sincere thanks go out to every artist or record company executive or author or artist manager or public relations professional who ever consented to an interview and/or sent me music to play on the radio and review on this website.
It has been my pleasure and my honor to bring Pure Pop Radio to you for the past 26 years. Certainly, there were a few breaks during that long timespan, but I always came back, ready and willing to give great indie pop artists a platform for their art.
Now, I leave the job to you, my faithful readers; listen to the pop music that you love and spread the word. It is time for me to say thank you, and…