Home > Articles > M&M > Barry Scott's The Lost 45s: Something Old is New Again

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Other stories ended up a little better, like the one which inspired the title of Scott’s book of interviews, “We had Joy, We had Fun: The Lost Recording Artist of the ‘70s.” That story is about Terry Jacks, the man who wrote and sang the ‘70s monster-hit “Seasons in the Sun.” Scott recalls the story. “He made enough money off that record that he financed his entire life on it. It sold 10 million copies; it was the biggest selling song of the ‘70s, single-wise. He has a boat now called ‘Seasons in the Sun,’ and he lives off the coast of Canada and he fishes all day, and he doesn’t have to do anything.” Scott laughs, “He had a pretty good deal.”

There are many people that Scott would still like to interview, but the one that got away is Elton John. “I met Elton John in 1987. We met and talked, and I told him about my show.” Scott explained the premise of the show, and how he’d play many of John’s lesser-known hits. As it happens, John was also a record collector, and used to collect every 45 that made the English charts. John loved the description of the show, and agreed to schedule an interview through his management. “But his management never responded or said yes,” says Scott. “So he is one I’d still like to interview.”

As it happens, getting through an artist’s management is consistently the hard part of getting these interviews. “A lot of people take the title of my show wrong,” says Scott. “Stevie Wonder doesn’t want to be known as a Lost 45 artist. Some of these people don’t, and I have to show them that the appreciation I have for the music is not that they’re lost, but that the artists are still around today and learning what they’re up to.” Scott makes a point to always give an artist the opportunity to talk about what they’ve been doing since their Lost 45s hit. “I always give them a chance to talk about current projects, because most of them are still in the business.”

With the show going strong and now entering into its third decade, Scott has no plans of stopping anytime soon. His hope is to let the show evolve as the years pass, letting the rotation creep into including songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s. “Singles were released regularly until 1990, and then they petered out, so I think I’d have problems doing 45s much past ’90 or ’91. I can’t see myself playing songs from much after that. But that still leaves me quite a bit of time to grow into playing mid-70’s ‘80s and ‘90s music.”

One might think it would be challenging to keep the show fresh for all these years, and for years to come, but the fans take care of that. “The listeners keep the show fresh for me,” says Scott. “They come up with ideas and themes that I would never have thought of.”

“I had to do the oldies format this winter because there was a blizzard and no one could get in, and it wasn’t as exciting,” says Scott. “I’ve got to hand it to them for making those songs sound fresh, that’s an art. If anything, my show’s easy because the songs are fresh. Playing “Hey Jude” for the billionth time, and making it sound different or saying something about it that no one knows, that’s hard.”

Scott says that he’d like to do the show until he retires, and eventually to donate the collection. “I’ve never really thought about it as preserving it for the next generation or anything,” says Scott. “Whoever gets my record library in the end will probably preserve all the songs that made the Top 40, which is kind of neat.”

He takes more pride in knowing that the songs are being heard by younger generations today. “I’ve heard from a lot of kids who weren’t even alive when this music was out who really have a fondness for it,” says Scott. “I think there’re a couple generations listening to it and liking it.”

But what will happen to these lost songs when their keeper leaves the business? “I think what’s going to happen is exactly what happened to ‘50s music,” says Scott. “It’s going to disappear, unfortunately. Even oldies aren’t playing 50’s music anymore. So the music my parents grew up on, they express how hard it is to find it on the radio now. So they buy it on CD or get it on Satellite radio.”

Even terrestrial radio is being influenced by Satellite and Internet. The new “Jack” format has now hit the airwaves of Boston, in the form of 93.7 Mike FM. The station plays all the songs “that you would download if you had the time to,” (as described by their website), but with no DJ’s. However, Scott thinks the format isn’t the answer if terrestrial radio is to compete with Satellite and Internet radio.

“If what you want to hear is just a jukebox of songs, then the Internet and Satellite are fine,” says Scott. “But most people have proven that audiences want to hear some sort of DJ interaction, and they want to hear someone say a fact about a song, and that is what is largely missing on Internet and Satellite: knowledgeable DJ’s who actually know what they’re talking about.”

To truly compete, terrestrial radio will have to return to its roots in format and style, while taking full advantage of the added features that could be offered to audiences through the new digital signal. Most of us have seen the song titles and artist names showing up on our car stereos. The same technology, combined with the Web, could enable listeners to rate songs or otherwise communicate instantly with the DJ to influence play lists, or even purchase songs digitally the instant that they hear them on the radio. This kind of additional income for stations could help offset the likely loss of revenue associated with reducing commercial time from 14 minutes per hour down to 10 or 11, a likely necessary move to keep the attention of listeners.

“The land-based radio stations are going to have to wake up if they’re going to compete with IPods, the Internet and Satellite radio,” says Scott. “I think I’m fortunate that I am providing some sort of different programming at a time when terrestrial radio needs different programming. Eventually all the boring stuff is going to have be changed. They’re gonna have to do more exciting radio, and go back to the way it used to be. More production, more fun formats, and throwing out some of the rules and regulations and research that they do. Otherwise, they’re gonna lose.”

Scott is likely to have a secure place in radio for years to come, as other stations move to offer the kind of experience that The Lost 45s already does, even if those same industry insiders don’t always get it today. “I get this a lot from radio people. They don’t think the show should be successful at all.”

But consistently the Lost 45s has been successful, and Scott is all too modest in his explanation as to why. “Since this is the only outlet for these songs anywhere on the dial, I think I win by default,” says Scott. “I do really hard work on the show, but all the other radio stations are making it easier for me because they’re avoiding these songs entirely. As long as they all keep doing that, my job is easier. I hate to say that, because it minimizes my part in it, but it’s the only outlet. If you play these songs, people are gonna come.”

But the fact is the show is number one for more reasons than just what other shows aren’t doing. The Lost 45s is active and fun, and has been able to create a real experience for its listeners, right down to the authentic commercials from the ‘70s and ‘80s slipped in between the songs for effect. These little touches, added together with artist interviews and stories from long ago, not to mention thousands of great songs, have kept listeners tuning in week after week for decades. And as long as fans keep coming back to hear those lost and beloved songs once again, Barry Scott is happy to keep spinning them. “I like what I play. I think I’d listen to this show if it wasn’t me.”




Part One

Part Two


To learn more about Barry Scott,

visit his website at: http://www.lost45.com/

©2003-2005 Boston Beats






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