I Am What I Play trailer

Every film needs a trailer and we’re excited to share it with you now.   Here’s a first look at I Am What I Play.



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The Spirit of Radio

Since we started shooting the film, I have obviously been posting here and there on this blog, at least trying to capture bits and pieces of the process.  Now that we are finished the rough cut – the editor, post-production supervisor and I finally watched it on a big screen last week and it looks good (whew!) – I plan to update this space more frequently and I realize to this point, I haven’t talked about why I made this film.

I graduated from University just over 20 years ago.  One day I skipped an early morning history class because the local rock radio station was going to play the new Robert Plant single for the first time.  Being a die-hard Led Zeppelin/Plant fan, I had to hear it now.  And my only option for doing so was to tune into this one radio station at the exact right time.  I simply had to cut class.

This likely seems absurd to people born in the year I graduated.  Not the skipping class part but having so few options for accessing new music.  This was part of the excitement and power of rock radio.  I think mine is the last generation that understands that, or has any real connection to radio.  Might be the last generation that even owns a radio!

I see lots of blogs and hear lots of podcasts about what’s wrong with radio now – why this connection to younger generations has been lost.  And I know the standard line is to blame corporations.  While it’s true that many corporations have tried to control the message and the music, I think where radio sits today is the result of a number of factors besides just the present-day radio execs not understanding the charm of the psychedelic era.

I prefer to focus on what was right with radio when it did have a hold on generations of listeners.  It’s the job of those of us who were moved by the medium to pass that torch – to sing the praises of the originals still doing their thing (and they’re still out there, if you’re paying attention), to take note of ways in which “the spirit of radio” is still alive and well – or could be – and to bend the ears of younger generations without sounding bitter or out of touch.

I try to capture “the spirit” when I talk about how much time I spent with rock radio.  Those DJ’s were the ambassadors.  They didn’t just play the records. They gave me an entry into the world of that band and they lived the music.  They drew links between bands, between songs, between what might be said in a song and what you might do in the real world:  politically, sexually, culturally…or just whatever on a Saturday night.

There was no quicker way to connect to the public than through radio.  DJ’s could move music, and occasionally public opinion.  I just loved hearing intelligent voices discussing the bands I love – and spinning stories about the music and what they did after the show.  A talented DJ would spin an evening for me – it was an event.  “It was never a shift, it was a show.”

Their identities were wrapped up in the music they played.  With few exceptions, there is no way a top radio jock would put a record on the air that he/she didn’t believe in. Which is why I’ve always liked the David Bowie line from his song DJ:  “I Am a DJ – I am what I play.”   And in the spirit of that lyric, I decided to make a film.