Checking in with Northern California
It’s always nice to bring in some fellow Northern California DJs to the column. In the case of this week’s spotlighted DJ, he’s even from my home turf of Sonoma County. Even though I’ve known Brian Griffith for many years, I’ve learned a lot more from just these few answers.
Bill Frater: Where and when did you start in radio and what other stations have you worked at?
Brian Griffith: After 18 years of being a professional musician, I got into broadcasting by writing and producing the programs you listen to on airplanes. I then became a producer for Westwood One, working on syndicated programs like American Top 40 with Casey Kasem, the Larry King show, In Concert, and working as an in-house interviewer, which gave me the opportunity to interview just about every rock and pop star you can imagine.
After leaving L.A. in 1995 to return to my Northern California hometown, I did mornings at KRCB, then moved to KRSH mornings for six years. Now I’m back at KRCB, where I am the music director, hosting “Morning Music with Brian” Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.
How do you describe your show?
Very eclectic. On any given day you may hear Nirvana, Johnny Cash, Radiohead, the Ramones, Big Star, Tom Waits, Wilco, and Lucinda [Williams].
How do you prepare for your shows and do you have theme shows or sets?
I do plan thematic sets during the show — songs with connected content, rhythms, titles, etc. We try to musically comment on the day’s events and support local artists and shows.
How much new releases and independent artists do you play?
Probably 30 percent of my show is new music, sprinkled with old favorites and a lot of indies. I love hunting down stuff you can’t hear on other stations.
What was the first artist or album that got you into roots music?
Like a lot of folks my age, Gram Parsons was a huge influence on me.
Who are your favorite artists from any genre? What artists define Americana music for you ?
I love all kinds of genres, from classical to hip-hop. I’m not a big fan of “stadium country,” [but] Stevie Wonder, Beatles, George [Jones] and Tammy [Wynette], Yo Yo Ma, Steve Earle, Merle [Haggard] — they all regularly spin on my stereo.
How do you define Americana music?
I recall the ’70s, when Waylon [Jennings] and Willie [Nelson] split from the Nashville norm, [and] the ’80s when an artists like Lyle Lovett didn’t get airplay on traditional country stations. [The same was true for] Steve Earle, up through folks like Ryan Adams and Lucinda. All of these folks keep a tradition of storytelling and music-making alive. New artists like Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, and Lydia Loveless are carrying the torch quite well.
Where do you see Americana radio, or radio in general, going in the future?
When television came in, folks said it would be the death of radio. Nope. I don’t think the internet will kill radio, either. The localness of listening to what’s going on in your community and sharing good music with your neighbors will continue. I have heard from former community members and music lovers who listen on the internet in New York, Los Angeles, and Costa Rica.
What recent albums or artists are you excited about?
I really like the Honeycutters’ new one [On the Ropes]. [I also like] Sarah Shook, Carrie Rodriguez’s new bilingual release, [and Brooklyn-based band] Sunflower Bean. I saw a band from L.A. the other night, Valley Queen, they knocked me out.
Do you have any other interesting hobbies or interests, or anything else you wish to share?
I’m a pretty good cook. I’ll make somebody a wonderful wife one day.