Ladd in July 2012
January 17, 1948|
|Occupation||Disc jockey, radio personality, writer|
Jim Ladd (born January 17, 1948), an American disc jockey, radio producer and writer, is one of the few notable remaining freeform rock DJs in United States commercial radio. Ladd first gained national prominence as host of the hour long, nationally syndicated radio program Innerview, which aired weekly on over 160 stations nationwide for twelve years. Ladd has interviewed the likes of John Lennon, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Rush, U2, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Eagles and Led Zeppelin.
Radio show style
Ladd selects the songs he plays on his Nationwide SiriusXM Deep Tracks Freeform Radio show, transforming them into Freeform rock. He often invites listeners to participate on the air. Most of his music sets are organized on a theme or story-line, such as Old West outlaws, beautiful women, fast cars, or politics. He also takes listener requests; sometimes such a request will inspire an entire set.
He had three theme-based shows every week, on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday nights. On Monday, Jim featured the Blues on 'MOJO MONDAY' from 10PM PST to 11PM. On Wednesday at midnight, he performed an hour-long, uninterrupted segment called "Headsets." This is a theme-based collage of music blended seamlessly together, with one song leading into the next, incorporating sound effects such as voice overs and quotes from movies relating to the theme. On this program Ladd creates what he calls the "Theater of The Mind" (headphones are recommended). In addition to music, the weekly "Headsets" show featured poetry performed and written by spoken word artists such as Helene Hodge and Victoria Cyr. There have been two "Headsets" albums released, both done in collaboration with Billy Sherwood.
Sunday night began at 9PM PT (to Midnight), a theme show called "Theme of Consciousness", where Ladd played listeners' requests for songs based on a single word or phrase, such as "colors", "fire", "dance". This show recreates what Ladd calls the "Tribal Drum", describing the communal effect of radio in his pioneering days of FM radio. His repertoire combined classic rock standards by artists like The Beatles, The Doors and Led Zeppelin with songs and artists not normally heard on commercial radio. As was once standard in radio, most of his broadcasts end with a long song, such as The Doors' "When the Music's Over", Led Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand" or even Pink Floyd's 23-minute-long "Echoes".
Early years and KMET
Ladd began his career in 1969 at KNAC, a small Long Beach rock station. After two years there, he moved to Los Angeles station KLOS. In 1974 he moved to KMET-FM, known to its legions of listeners as "The Mighty Met", where he would remain for most of the next 13 years (returning to KLOS in 1984, but going back to KMET again, 2 months before they changed format), while also hosting and producing Innerview, an hour-long nationally syndicated interview program that aired during the same period.
After what many listeners and people in the industry perceived as a long steady decline in the station's output, attributed by most accounts to the station's decision to bring in consultant Lee Abrams and the strict "album oriented rock" formatting he favored, KMET management shocked southern California and all of radio by abruptly dumping rock music, the call letters, and the entire air staff on February 14, 1987, becoming KTWV ("The Wave"), featuring a new age format with no DJs at all.
Jumping station to station, and side projects
In 1987, Ladd appeared on Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters' second solo album Radio K.A.O.S., portraying a fictional disk jockey named "DJ Jim". Ladd joined Waters on the tour that followed, and appeared in the three music videos for the album. Ladd also played an all-night DJ in Crowe's 1989 film Say Anything.... Ladd's work has also been featured in major motion pictures such as Tequila Sunrise, Rush, She's Out of Control, and Defendor starring Woody Harrelson.
For several years, Ladd worked only on-and-off on the radio because he refused to follow a playlist, as most station owners demanded. In the late 1980s, Ladd worked at KMPC-FM, where he helped to shape its "Full Spectrum Rock" blend of classic and modern rock, and was enthusiastic about its rebranding as KEDG "the Edge" in March 1989, but was laid off when the station abruptly abandoned its rock format two months later.
In 1991 Ladd released a semi-autobiographical book titled Radio Waves: Life And Revolution On The FM Dial (St. Martin's Press), based on his radio career and the rise and fall of freeform rock radio in LA, from the genesis of freeform on the West Coast through the demise of KMET in 1987. The names of many people and radio stations Ladd encountered during that two-decade period were swapped for pseudonyms; however, Raechel Donahue has said that she insisted Ladd use her real name and that of her late husband Tom Donahue in the book. David Perry, Ace Young, Jack Snyder, Damion, and the late personalities B. Mitchel Reed and J.J. Jackson, were also among those identified by their actual "air names".
Free-form show on KLOS and the internet
Ladd and his free-form rock music returned to KLOS in 1997 and aired until October 26, 2011 Monday thru Thursday from 10PM to 2AM (PST), and on Sunday from 9PM to Midnight. His show routinely led its time slot in Arbitron ratings. KLOS renewed his contract in January 2007. In addition, he has produced, written and narrated a number of nationally syndicated programs, including interviews, concert specials and album premieres.
Most recently, Ladd has used his MySpace and Facebook pages to interact with his listeners, who he refers to as "The Tribe." He often takes requests in the comments section, and has used the site as a source to become familiar with his listeners and promote free form radio. Beginning March 10, 2008, Ladd allowed his show to be streamed on KLOS's web site.
On November 5, 2011, Ladd gave a three-hour farewell broadcast on AM station KFI in Los Angeles.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
On May 6, 2005, Ladd received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition for the first 38 years of his groundbreaking radio career at 7018 Hollywood Boulevard. Friend Jackson Browne made a speech.
Ladd is married to writer, poet and musician Helene Hodge-Ladd.
Cultural impact and recognition
Ladd served as the inspiration for the 2002 Tom Petty album The Last DJ and its title track. In his career, he has become friends with many rock legends such as Roger Waters, Tom Petty, Neil Peart, Stevie Nicks, John Lennon, George Thorogood, Steven Van Zandt, Dave Hlubek and Jackson Browne, along with original MTV veejay J.J. Jackson and filmmaker Cameron Crowe.
- "Jim Ladd Beats Tribal Drum for FM Rock". The Los Angeles Times. May 27, 1991.
- I. "Innerview Profile". Discogs.
- Tiano, Mike (November 11, 2007). "Conversation with Billy Sherwood and Jim Ladd". Notes from the Edge.
- Steve Hochman (March 9, 2000). "He's a Deejay as Free as the Air". The Los Angeles Times.
- Gene Autry. "KMPC-FM 101.9: Full Spectrum Rock". Retrieved August 10, 2011.
- Simone, Michael. ""Am, Fm, Weather and News...": An interview with Jim Ladd". Rogerwaters.org.
- Roderick, Kevin (October 26, 2011). "End of an era at KLOS: Jim Ladd out". LA Observed. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Rock Radio Pioneer Jim Ladd to Join SiriusXM – NEW YORK, Dec. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/". New York: Prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Jim Ladd's Star Ceremony- Jackson Browne". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Hollywood Star Walk". The Los Angeles Times.
- "JimLaddHollywoodWalkofFame". Gettyimages.com.
- Cashmere, Paul (January 30, 2007). "Songwriter Jim Wagner Calls Tom Petty A Liar – Undercover.fm News". Undercover.com.au. Retrieved 2012-10-02.