Man Behind the Monitor: Bill Prevost of rifRadio
Aside from being a steadfast advocate of the unheard underdogs, Bill Prevost of rifRadio meshes cause related substance with entertainment on his Internet station “Radio Iraqi Freedom.”
T: How did rifRadio get its start?
B: I’ve always been a big defender of the underdog. About four years ago, I got increasingly tired of the way that our military was being constantly disrespected and maligned by the mainstream media. I decided that the best way to show my support was to create a music station that might bring a little bit of home to them wherever they were. You can’t do this over the airwaves unless you are fortunate enough to get a large conglomerate like Clear Channel to syndicate you and that was not financially feasible for me. But the Internet, now that was a possibility. It’s not as restricted and I was allowed more freedom. The “rif” in rifRadio stands for “Radio Iraqi Freedom” and will be forever dedicated to those who put their lives on the line everyday so that I can do this. Something that should never be forgotten. If you want an idea of the alternative take a look at what China is doing with the Internet. ‘Nuff said.
T: What encouraged you to dive into Internet Radio as opposed to other forms of broadcast?
B: I think what I liked most was the freedom to do things the way that I thought they should be done. Not having to follow the archaic protocols and standards that the regulated industries have adopted. For instance, I play complete albums because the artists of that album had a particular message or idea that they were trying to convey. I’m not going to get into any deep discussion about this, I don’t think that I need to. A few examples of this though would be almost any Pink Floyd, Yes, or Alan Parsons Project album. Even Boston’s first album, the one that they cut in their basement because the record companies said that they weren’t good enough, has a very fluid format.
Boston, Brad Delp in particular, also was the encouragement to me to listen to “Indie” music. I’m the person that watches the movies that the critics give thumbs down to. I find that they are usually better than the ones that they do like. For the last few years, the big music companies been sitting around whining about piracy and downloads. This is not because the artists lose out. To the contrary, it’s because they lose out. A couple of great reference articles are interviews with David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Thom Yorke (Radiohead) in the January 2008 issue of Wired Magazine. They have seen the industry eat artists on a daily basis. It used to be all about the money. Not how much the artist would make, but how much they would make at the expense of the artist. They also have seen the future and it is a future that benefits the artist as well as the industry. In my opinion, (and I say “in my opinion” only out of some sense of political correctness, something I greatly despise), the recording industry downfall began with the likes of Madonna. Think about it. Could you imagine Robert Plant, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton or any of the greats of the past with backup dancers? Alvin Lee, (Ten Years After) wrote a line that I think says it all. “Go tell Madonna it don’t do nothin’ for me”. Why is it necessary to have 38DD and big asses bouncing around the stage? Don’t you think it kind of distracts from the guy that spent his life learning to play the 12-string or the message that the band is trying to get across?
There is so much talent out there that isn’t getting out because the recording industry starts to milk them for money the second that they get any recognition. You can’t make it if you don’t pay. How ridiculous. If that doesn’t stifle creativity and ambition, what does? Groups like TSC (Te Stone Coyotes), Jupiter One, Blood Red Sun, Telling On Trixie, artists like Pete Berwick, Papa Satch, and Bill Kelly are where the future of music lies. I sincerely hope that they read the articles that I mentioned. The sky is the limit if they get it right.
I was fortunate to have found CyberPR (arielpublicity.com). Of all of the publicity companies that I am in communication with, they have what I consider some of the best talent available. I’ve found that they can distinguish between the good ones and the great ones.
T: As a radio broadcaster, do you have a favorite radio personality that you’ve been inspired by?
B: In music radio, no. I have tried to combine the attributes of three stations that I grew up listening to in the 70’s and early 80’s. I’m from the Denver area and back then we had a station called KLZ FM, (they later became KAZY). I had a friend at the time that was a DJ. I would go as a guest with him to a little place in the bottom of the Brooks Towers called Ebbets Field when he would MC. I listened to such greats as Leo Kottke and Lynyrd Skynyrd, (a few days after their release of “Pronounced”) and others. Unfortunately it became too commercial as time went by and I switched to KBCO in Boulder. I liked their laid back style and my favorite DJ was Ginger. They too became very commercial over time and that led me to the Ft. Collins college station KTCL. The students ran it and occasionally they would “buck the system”. They also played local music and the stuff you didn’t hear on commercial FM. Those days are gone. I try to do the same now. I still have to play the stuff everyone remembers, but I can also slip in the stuff that you only heard if you bought the album.
T: What is the biggest challenge you face as an Internet Radio station manager?
B: It would probably be promotion. I have an edge as I did concentrate on the military. I’ve been told that I am one of a very few Internet radio stations allowed on bases, but as you can guess, I have no way of knowing other than word of mouth. I am working on some new and exciting ways of promoting my station, but I don’t want to fall into the same old commercial trap. You can get that anywhere.
T: What advice would you give an aspiring station manager looking to grow their listener base?
B: I could tell you that but then I’d have to kill you. No, I guess I would just say do what feels good. The Internet is wide open. Use it wisely. Try to get an idea of what people want and make it work with what you want. Respect your listeners; they are what it is about. Find a cause or ideal that you want to advance and do so with intensity and respect. I can’t say that word enough. I have two. The appreciation of those who would die for me and the advancement of what I see as the future of music. Self-marketing and incredible talent are the next wave in the music industry. I’m a firm believer that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. The rewards are security, accomplishment and satisfaction.
T: What’s next for rifRadio?
B: I want to be the source for “Indie” music. I want someone to call up a band or artist and say, “I heard you music on rifRadio”. I want the talent that is sitting out there to say, “I sent a demo to rifRadio….”. I am dealing with what I consider to be the best publicity agent out there right now. Eventually, I will have to expand, but for the immediate future I have every confidence in what I am doing and whom I associate with.
If I can make this thing work, I have plans to build a recording studio catering to Independents. I’m out in the middle of nowhere. I wake up to moose and deer in my yard. I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I have fiberoptic Internet and all the amenities that I need. This would be the perfect place. I even have a producer in mind. I’m a long way from that, but not deterred. My station has been climbing steadily in my server’s ratings and my ideas to make it even better are just starting. I do believe that I will achieve my goals.
To check out what’s playing on rifRadio now, visit: http://www.rifradio.net
For the complete interview with Bill, including a few referrals to insightful articles about the landscape of the music industry, check out: https://nbtmusic.wordpress.com/