The Last DJ: Remembering Eric E. Stanley

Eric. E doing what he did best: Playing music on the radio. Photograph by Otis L Stanley.

With the recent news that iHeartMedia has declared bankruptcy, I can’t say that I’m surprised.

iHeartMedia filed for chapter 11 protection this week as part of an agreement with its lenders to reduce debt it took on to become a privately held company. The company formerly known as Clear Channel Communications said Thursday that it will operate its businesses as usual while it restructures its finances under Chapter 11 protection to reduce debt by more than $10 billion. The reason for iHeartMedia’s financial problems is primarily its massive debt.

Like the music and news industries, corporate radio behemoths held on to the belief for far too long that they didn’t have to adapt to the rapidly shifting media landscape of the Internet age.

Today, I don’t know a single person that listens to mainstream terrestrial radio except by default. People would rather listen to their iPods, podcasts or specialty stations that cater to specific tastes and cultures than the homogeneous, 30-song playlists that has left iHeartMedia drowning in debt.

Reading about the financial mess the company is in made me think about Richmond’s late great, radio show host Eric E. Stanley. A rarity on the mainstream airwaves, his personality-driven music program, “The Bebop, Boogie & Blues Review” was one of the rare radio shows I would make time to listen to.

Here’s what i wrote about him after his death in 2003.

As Charles Bukowski once wrote, “The gods play no favorites.”

Eric E And Bo Diddley. Photograph by Otis L Stanley

Eric E. Stanley, longtime Richmond radio host of the Bebop, Boogie & Blues Review on Magic 105.7 FM, lost his battle with cancer and left this plane of existence on Tuesday Aug. 12, 2003.

It is a sad day for music lovers here in this former capital of the confederacy as Eric was one of the few bright spots on our local radio dials where machine driven-automation and strict adherence to corporate approved & genre specific play lists are ruling the airwaves.

Eric loved music, all music, to the core of his being and without his boundless enthusiasm, Richmond would have missed out on a great many artists and groups that might have otherwise passed us by.

He never succumbed to the cynicism that a great many of us have when faced with the growing corporate tyranny of the airwaves. He let his limitless passion for all things musical guide his life.

Jimmy Cliff With Eric E. Photograph by Otis L Stanley

His show, The Bebop, Boogie & Blues Review, was always an audio delight as he played whatever tickled his fancy and he manned the mic with a humble gratitude and loving devotion to the music that profoundly affected his and his listening audience’s life.

In this day and age, what Eric did with his all too short life on this earth is nothing short of revolutionary, as I doubt his radio show fattened his wallet.

He dedicated his life to exposing the music he loved and went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that every Sunday night the music that so consumed his life was heard on the Richmond, Virginia airwaves.

Muddy Waters With Eric E. Photograph by Otis L Stanley

He was a real public servant not motivated by monetary gain, as he wanted nothing more than to celebrate life’s rich audio fabric with his radio audience and bring people of all ages, creeds and colors together with music.

The Romantics With Eric E. Photograph by Otis L Stanley

I will miss him and his infinite zest for all forms of music dearly as he made this small southern outpost a place you could be proud to call home. Eternal thanks Eric for everything you so selflessly did and I hope, in some small way, that my radio show that was directly inspired by yours will honor your memory and love of music for many years to come.Thanks should also be given to Magic 105.7 for letting Eric do his thing on their station, as it is rapidly becoming a thing of the past to have a live DJ playing his own music on the airwaves these days.

Art Neville With Eric E. Photograph by Otis L Stanley

I hope that with Eric’s untimely passing, they will continue to have openings for local DJ’s to fill the airwaves with music not on the billboard charts and keep the tradition he started there alive and well.

Eric and I talked on occasion about the state of radio and while he agreed with me that the airwaves were filled with a distressing bland conformity, he stressed that I shouldn’t overly concern myself with what the other guy’s are doing and just do what I do. While I often waste my valuable time in an angry fury about programming homogeny on the local airwaves, he didn’t concern himself with it and followed his own muse blissfully.

“You have a great show.” he told me, “Eventually the big boys will come a knocking.”

Even though I have serious doubts that that will ever happen (they never did), but coming from him, I felt that it wasn’t completely out of the range of possibility that one day, I could possibly make a living being a radio disc jockey.

I respected the man immensely and to have him tell me that he liked my show was an honor.

Gone but never forgotten.

I doubt he realized how much that meant to me, but I will never forget it and, even though we were not bosom buddies, I always liked our infrequent discussions and put a lot of merit in what he had to say. “Play some Howlin’ Wolf for me. I’ll be listening.”

More on Eric:

The musicians and bands whose careers Eric E. Stanley has supported come together to help him fight cancer.

Eric E: Jukebox of Americana

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