CORPORATE FM

5/11     8:00 PM     LAC Main Stage     (preceded by STAN HERD: MAN OF THE LAND)

Documentary / 74 min

In 1996 commercial radio underwent a quiet revolution. Local station owners everywhere sold their stations as fast as they could to conglomerates. The new owners gutted the staffs.’Corporate FM’ is about what happens when a city loses a communal microphone. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, locally owned radio reaches thousands of people across many incomes and ages in a single area at the same time with a message unique to that area. That ability is what once moved entire cities to unite around local bands, local charities, local businesses, and even new ideas. Radio insiders reveal with personal stories on what happened and how to fix it. They uncover a financial shell game that doomed radio the moment it consolidated.

DIRECTOR Kevin McKinney  EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Melvin Brooke PRODUCER Jill McKeever CINEMATOGRAPHER Jeff Peak EDITORS Kevin McKinney, Jill McKeever MUSIC Chris Crabtree, Antennas Up

ATTENDING in person
Kevin McKinney’s short films Planet Trash & Harry’s Chase have garnered festival awards and international attention. His feature documentary work includes camera and sound on “Body of War” directed by Phil Donahue. Born in Wiesbaden Germany,  he graduated from the University of Kansas with a double major in Sociology and Theatre/Film.  He believes that the sociological impact of radio for local community support is more powerful than the internet or any other technology.  That is part of what what led him to make this film.
Jill McKeever is a cross disciplinary artist living in Kansas City, MO. With a background in music, dance, graphic design, web, video editing, and sound design, she is drawn to a large variety of work. In addition to shooting, editing, and producing Corporate.FM for the last 4 years with Kevin, she is a botanical perfumer and owner of ‘For Strange Women’ perfume. Additional projects range from her iphone app “Cat Translator” to experimental audio and music recordings. Jill’s love for music and desire to support the bands that act as a deeply uniting force drew her to Kevin’s message in “Corporate.FM”.
Hank Booth is the former owner of KLWN and KLZR. His morning show “According to the Record” on the AM dial focuses exclusively on his home town of Lawrence Kansas. Like so many local owners, Hank takes an active role in serving the community. Because of this, he is well known and his stations have been popular with listeners. He often quotes his father Arden Booth as saying “The one reason we exist, is to serve the people in our immediate listening area”.
Rose Diehl (KMAJ) worked at the same radio station in Topeka, KS for over 28 years. Even though she was cut by the new owners, (Cumulus) she said she still felt incredibly blessed to have been able to build a lasting relationship with her listeners. Her audience recognized her voice as they would a family member. Rose’s hope is to one day again work for a mom & pop-owned radio station that is involved in the community. She says, “You can not serve the public if you are just voice-tracked and not there…You gotta have somebody there in the studio to answer the phone. That’s the connection…and now with all the social media, that’s important [too] but you’ve got to be in the studio to interact.”
Sean Passmore aka “Chuck Taylor” was the local music director and night DJ at KLZR. Neither of those titles exist anymore. The night DJ spot is where emerging DJs honed their talent before they became great daytime music curators. The elimination of that night shift position is a key factor contributing to the death of commercial radio, as there is no training ground for the next generation. Sean left radio as so many rising stars have because their shifts are now “voice tracked”  by the few remaining staff.  Their potential to be influential players in the community and music scene no longer exists.
Steve Wilson heard the Beatles when he was eleven years old and everything changed. He went through the motions of getting an education, culminating in a History degree at the University of Kansas. While in college he wrote for several periodicals, always about music. He continues writing and blogging about music to this day. His band, the critically acclaimed Thumbs, recorded two albums and sundry other recordings between 1977 and 1985. The Mahoots, with whom he has played and recorded since 1986 are responsible for four albums. Wilson also has a new project called the Liquor Buddies. His bread and butter has been record retail, having worked for Kief’s Music in Lawrence, Kansas since his college days. From journalist to disc jockey, from retail record guy to rocker, Wilson is preoccupied with music and his diverse background makes him a knowledgeable resource on the subject of popular music and the industry that serves and destroys it.
John McGrath was a TV News anchor and News Photographer at FOX41 in Kansas City during the mid to late 90′s.  His unique talents of both on-camera hosting and behind-camera production gave his stories an edge that became indicative of the time. Crazy angles, flash zooms, and hard-driving local music were a signature of stories that spoke to a younger audience than that of which TV news programs traditionally catered too. Because of this, McGrath’s stories carry a relevance today with viewers who remember his contribution to the identity of Kansas City.