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  • Paula Sangeleer

1998: The Year I Said Yes To Everything

Long before COVID-19 forced us all into our homes for a year, I was a music director in 95.9 The Coast, a small rock station on the Delmarva Peninsula. Back then, Philly was the fifth largest radio market, Dallas and New York were one or two, Chicago usually goes for three, D.C. was eight or nine, Baltimore was 19th, and Delmarva was somewhere around 148 or 152.

But back in those days, it didn't matter how small your signal or market were, as long as you held the power. The best job in radio is the music director, because you're not anybody's boss, but you are in charge of the details, as far as getting music into the system. You're also a big part of choosing what new music goes on the radio station.

Back then, every Tuesday, you'd have to report your playlist (your spins) to the trade magazines. You develop relationships with the record company executives who call and say, "Can you put a song in heavy rotation?" then that means more spins, which means it goes higher up the chart, which means more money for the bands.

You always want your bands to have money, so why not have a lobster dinner with the music directors along the way? Help them help everybody out.

It's really not like this anymore, because companies and radio stations have both made cuts. And there have been legal and things and federal laws so that you can't have as much fun as you used to be able to. It's all well documented. But I got there right at the tail end of that really fat criminal part of how music record companies would entertain music directors.

And that was really fun.

They would romance you--even in the small market where we were--they would romance you to play their bands. "Oh, Paula, come to D.C. come have dinner with us. Oh, let me get your room." It was on and on. They want to make you feel like you're a rock star so that they butter you up to play the music. So, you know, is that criminal? I don't know. But it was a lot of fun, and we got to meet a lot of people.

I remember when the clock stuck midnight in 1997, my New Year's resolution for 1998 was to live my life, enjoying as much as possible. I was single at the time, I didn't have anybody, so I'm gonna go to everything I get invited to. And I did.

It was busy but it was fun. You know, one night, it's Metallica and Philly. And then it's some, you know, alternative band in D.C. the next night and it was pretty wild fun.

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