A New Kind of Radio Show: The Vision of A Veteran Radio Personality in Today’s Digital Age

It’s been nearly 20 years since Napster served up the sucker punch that completely leveled the music industry as we knew it and, after taking far too long resisting the inevitable, we have been desperately trying to catch up with the pace of growth characteristic of the Digital Age— first with file sharing, then social media, followed by the standardization of streaming, countered by a healthy yet puzzling resurgence in vinyl sales, ad infinitum… Every aspect of the business is still operating in a New Wild West, grasping at unclaimed land and capturing flags from enemy territory faster than they can figure out what to build on it.

That said, I get really excited when I meet visionaries in my music community. And the only thing that can possibly excite me more is when one visionary teams up with another visionary to bring one extraordinary idea to life.

We’ve seen a lot of brand new developments facilitating the way we consume and interact with music i.e. Spotify, artists communicating directly with fans on social, or even the phenomenon of YouTube celebrities etc. It’s all fantastic, but I find one of the most fascinating kinds of development is in taking something old and making it new again — things like including digital downloads in vinyl records, promoting local bands through classic cover sets, and integrating the old familiar curation and access of broadcast radio with the on-demand, ad-allergic Age of The Smartphone.

Though we have to admit the latter has yet to be perfected, despite the ongoing and insanely expensive attempts by broadcasters to stay relevant and interesting to audiences while maintaining value to advertisers.

And that’s what this article is about: how a veteran broadcaster, Toronto’s own Rudy Blair, teamed up with artist-friendly streaming service, Mediazoic, and the ultra savvy brand Casino Rama Resort to create “Vinyl Avenue with Rudy Blair”, a new kind of radio show that knocks relevance, content, and value clear out of the park.

Before I go into how this show works and why it’s so awesome, here’s what Rudy has to say about the project and what it means to him:

How did you come up with Vinyl Avenue?

Since parting ways from 680News/Rogers a year and a half ago, I’ve been looking for a vehicle that would allow me to still do what I enjoy; interviewing the biggest and most influential recording artists in music. I love talking to artist who I consider “influencers” — the people that set the road of their era and pave the way for the future. To be able to ask questions and hear about history from the very lips of the history makers and share that with people is priceless. That is an honour.

Even though I have my own website (Rudy Blair Entertainment Media), it’s not laid out in a radio show interview format, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I remember running into Greg Nisbet (founder of Mediazoic) who I’ve interviewed before, and he encouraged me to meet with him and talk about coming up with a concept/show that would fit the brand and myself. The best part about the deal was that there was no pressure and it was whatever idea I could come up with.

So I talked to a lot of people I respected and trusted — and I mean A LOT of people — until finally one day it hit me at once. I have built a GREAT relationship with Jenna Hunter [Director of Public Relations at Casino Rama Resort] over the years and realized that they host artists that I’d love to interview and that people are interested in. When I called Jenna to propose the idea, it turned out it was something they were looking for but didn’t know how to make happen.

Why “Vinyl Avenue”?

Originally it was going to be called “Vinyl Idol”, but the more I said it back to myself the more corny it sounded. Then, while driving, I was looking at road signs and thinking about how signs help direct us, and again it just hit me… “Vinyl Avenue with Rudy Blair” — it’s the music road we can all travel together and this road leads to Casino Rama Resort. When I presented Greg with the idea, he loved it and he (business wiz that he is) helped make this dream of mine a reality.

What do you hope to achieve with the show?

I’ve been interviewing the legends of music and presenting it to fans for almost 25 years. I estimate in that time I’ve interviewed over 7000 celebrities over the years and the one thing I’ve been able to do is to make the artist comfortable enough to talk about whatever they want and what the fans want to hear.

So what I hope to achieve is a show for the people — not just music fans but fans in general. I want to have conversations that hopefully fans have never heard before and, in the end, come out learning something that they didn’t know about those artists. The way I look at it; I’m the middle man between the artist and the fan. I want to ask questions fans want to ask and I want the artist to have the ability to be uncensored and unrestricted. And as this happens we’re all having a good time.

How is it different than previous shows you’ve done?

This will be COMPLETELY different from anything I’ve done and is something I’ve always wanted to do. I get to talk to the hit makers of all genres of music and talk with them in ways I couldn’t on broadcast radio. I get to ask the questions I want to ask and you get to hear the answers unedited and to the point. This will be fun, informative, and most importantly fan friendly. My goal is to make this 30 minute show feels like 10 minutes. You’ll have so much fun time is going to fly.

So here’s a rundown of why Vinyl Avenue with Rudy Blair is so unique and special:

  1. Access to artists historically reserved for major media outlets, but without any of the restrictions, which means great content.
  2. A live 30-minute radio show format that is available free and on-demand on digital devices (smartphone, tablet, and laptop/PC).
  3. Non-invasive brand sponsorship, so you can tune in and enjoy without being bombarded with ads for car insurance. The only thing this brand dictates is which artists Rudy gets to talk to — but given their epic summer lineup, that’s a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

What I love the most about this idea, is the genius way that Casino Rama Resort is able to promote their concert schedule by sponsoring and facilitating content that is actually valuable and interesting to fans (which funny enough, is something broadcast radio used to be really good at) and that’s the goal of all the greatest marketers of today: providing real value.

The very first guest on Vinyl Avenue with Rudy Blair is with the legendary Burton Cummings, which airs onThursday, June 29. Stay tuned for details on where to listen and how to win tickets to see Burton live by following Vinyl Avenue on Facebook.