The Acoustic Storm in the Press
ACOUSTIC STORM SHOW MARKS 15 YEARS ON KSLX
Thunder rumbled over the metro Phoenix airwaves 15 years ago, kicking off an acoustic classic-rock radio program that has aired every weekend ever since.
Jeff Parets is creator and host of “Acoustic Storm,” which airs from 6 to 9 a.m. Saturdays on KSLX-FM (100.7), as well as on more than 80 channels in the U.S., Canada and Australia. The playlist ranges from songs that were acoustic all along to rare, unplugged versions of electrified hits.
For its 15th anniversary, this weekend’s show will feature songs with titles or lyrics relating to storms, and the weekly “Eye of the Storm” artist spotlight will be on Bob Dylan.
Parets, who lives in Mesa, spoke recently about music “purity,” the Beatles and the show’s future.
Question: Why the devotion to acoustic classic rock?
Answer: There’s just something very organic about it that appeals to me on a basic level. The power of the electric guitar is something to behold, but then the pure, sincere, authentic, genuine sound of the acoustic guitar is a contrast in terms of like, after a powerful storm, there’s something really calming about listening to an acoustic guitar. That might be waxing a little poetic.
Q: Explain the process of how you create a show.
A: It’s a very time-intensive process that’s also a labor of love for me because I absolutely love the music, so I don’t think of it necessarily as work.
I’m very careful about repetition because it’s a specialty show and I want to keep that element of surprise and unpredictability alive and well to keep listeners tuning in because they never know what they might hear. I want it to be: If they don’t listen for a particular week, then they may wonder what they may have missed.
Q: How has the process of getting rare acoustic demos or live performances changed through the show’s life?
A: Boxed sets have helped. For instance, Van Morrison's classic album “Moondance” is just now being released as a deluxe edition with four CDs and previously unavailable demo versions of “Into the Mystic” and “Moondance.” Those are two tremendous songs.
Q: Do you play any instruments?
A: I play piano, and I can play like one or two songs on guitar and that’s about it...“Dirty Water,” by the Standells.
I took piano lessons when I was a kid from my grandmother. My family has a bit of a music background. My grandfather was a singer and my grandmother was a classically-trained concert pianist and violinist.
Q: Do you think you got your love of music from them?
A: It probably trickled down to a certain extent, although if they were still around, I wonder what they would think of listening to an acoustic version of Pink Floyd.
Q: What are some of your all-time favorites?
A: My favorite band, without question, is the Beatles. I just never get tired of listening to the Beatles. You can isolate tracks by listening to the right speaker or the left speaker and hear things you never heard before, harmonies or just nuances with the music. ... I’m also a big fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, solo and combined. Paul Simon, both solo and with Art Garfunkel. Joni Mitchell has always been one of my favorite singer-songwriters.
Q: Why did you choose to showcase Bob Dylan for the anniversary?
A: He is a quintessential acoustic artist ... I could have featured the Beatles, too. It was early ’60s for both of those, but Dylan even influenced the Beatles in certain instances, like the album “Rubber Soul” by the Beatles. He’s a very influential artist.
Q: Can you see yourself hosting the show for the rest of your life?
A: Well, that’s kind of the beauty of radio: You can do it as long as you’re able to continue to be inspired and continue to share your love for music with listeners. Let’s put it this way: I don’t have a retirement age in mind.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
East Valley Tribune
The Acoustic Storm, an East Valley-based radio program on the air “with the promise of delivering acoustic-based rock and unplugged versions of well-known songs” will celebrate its 15th anniversary Saturday, Oct. 26, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on 100.7 FM KSLX.
Produced and hosted by Jeff Parets, The Acoustic Storm first aired Oct. 25, 1988 as a local show on KSLX in Phoenix.
Today, the program, hosted out of an East Valley studio, is in global syndication and can be heard in more than 80 radio markets in the U.S., Canada and Australia. The program went into syndication in 2003 under the banner of the Mesa-based Acoustic Storm Radio Network, LLC.
“This show has been a labor of love from the beginning, so to be doing it for 15 years, starting in my adopted hometown of Phoenix, and now presenting it in so many other cities, is truly gratifying,” Parets said.
The program will commemorate its milestone broadcast with a thematic show featuring songs with titles and lyrics related to storms, including live, acoustic versions of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” and Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane.”
For more on The Acoustic Storm, listen every Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on 100.7 FM KSLX, or visit www.acousticstorm.com
The Calming Tempest of Jeff Parets' Acoustic Storm
By Donna Teresa
for The Salinas Californian
June 5, 2013
Sundays on the Central Coast, if you tune into radio station 104.3 KHIP “The Hippo” from 8 to 11 a.m., you’ll find one of my favorite programs, “The Acoustic Storm” (acousticstorm.com), a morning show that features a variety of acoustic music, heard on many radio stations across America. I had a chance to gather some thoughts from the program’s host, Jeff Parets:
What inspired you to create “The Acoustic Storm”?
JP: I’ve always had a passion for producing specialty shows on radio, even when I was programming a radio station full-time. I suppose you could trace the origins of The Acoustic Storm back to 1990, when I put together a 60-minute acoustic special for a Phoenix rock station. Over the years, I had amassed a collection of hard-to-find acoustic versions, and it occurred to me that those recordings could be a basis for a radio show. So, the next logical step was to create “The Acoustic Storm.” I named The Acoustic Storm after a Phoenix-area station I programmed in the 1980s, known as The Storm (107.1-FM, KSTM).
How many years has the program been available to listeners?
JP: I started “The Acoustic Storm” in Phoenix, Ariz., on KSLX on Oct. 25, 1998 and then began syndicating the show on my own in 2003, signing up 43 stations over the next three years. Since 2007, United Stations Radio Networks has been distributing “The Acoustic Storm” to stations around the world. The show is currently heard on about 80 stations in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Do you have any favorite acoustic selections?
JP: Hands down, my all-time favorite band is The Beatles, and that goes beyond the acoustic factor. Some of my favorite acoustic-based artists include Neil Young, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash (together and separately), Paul Simon (solo and with Garfunkel), Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Donovan, Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake.
I’m also a fan of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, The Who, Stones, Beach Boys, Steely Dan, Bob Marley, The Band, Tom Petty, Kinks, B.B. King, Police, Grateful Dead, Byrds and Peter Gabriel. Plus, I appreciate some of the more innovative acoustic guitarists, such as Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges, and Bela Fleck for banjo. My tastes are fairly eclectic as I also like classical music, jazz, blues, world music and progressive rock.
Among the newer artists I’ve been enjoying are Mumford & Sons, Death Cab for Cutie (and their offshoot band, Postal Service), Of Monsters and Men, Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Shins, Fleet Foxes and The Middle East. I listen to a lot of current stuff, since I produce the nationally syndicated radio show “Organic Tracks,” which features acoustic versions from contemporary artists like Train, Katy Perry, Rob Thomas, Coldplay, Adele, John Mayer, Maroon 5, Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz.
Our country has been experiencing tough times; do you feel music offers a great escape?
JP: Music is a great stress-reliever. There’s something very personal about it; maybe it has something to do with the fact that you can access music almost anywhere at any time. It’s also amazing how some songs can help bring back memories of a certain time in one’s life. Music can be tremendously inspiring for me, and quite emotional.
On a personal note, thank you Jeff and “The Acoustic Storm” for being my “calming tempest” every Sunday.
Parets likes his music unplugged
By Anthony Violanti
Ocala Star-Banner (Gainesville-Ocala, FL)
October 21, 2007
Classic rock without the amplifiers.
That might be the best description of Jeff Parets' own little radio revolution. Parets is the host of the nationally syndicated program, "The Acoustic Storm," a three-hour show heard locally at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Sundays on WIND-FM 95.5.
The format takes classic rock icons, such as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac and strips down their sound.
Instead of the usual hit singles or album tracks, Parets plays rare acoustic and live performances.
"I've always liked acoustic and unplugged performances; it just connects with me on a pure level," Parets said by telephone from Phoenix. He has worked in radio since the late 1970s and developed the acoustic programming concept about a decade ago.
"These performances, I think, make these artists more real," Parets said. "Part of the appeal is that it's more intimate and human. In a live performance, there are no re-takes or smoothing things out in a studio."
Eventually, the program caught on, and now "The Acoustic Storm," is syndicated to about 55 radio stations across the country, Parets said.
WIND-FM was one of the first to pick it up. "It's unique programming, and we've always liked it," said Kevin "Crash" Davis, the station's program director. "Consistently, it's one of our highest-rated shows."
"We think the show is perfect for Sundays," Davis said. "It's a time to chill out and take it easy. The music fits that mood. Jeff has a laid-back style, and you can tell he loves the music."
Parets constantly searches for new material. "I'm always scouring record stores for re-issues and live performances," he said. "A lot of this stuff gets released now in retrospective box sets and unplugged performances."
A breakthrough came during the mid '90s with "The Beatles Anthology" CD releases. The discs offered previously unreleased acoustic and studio performances by The Beatles.
"We've had a great response to The Beatles' acoustic work," Parets said. He added that George Harrison's acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weaps" is one of the most popular songs on the show. Another is Paul McCartney's live version of "Blackbird."
Gainesville native Tom Petty is also a regular feature.
"He's an important artist who incorporates so many influences in his music," Parets said of Petty. "To me, he helped bridge the gap between the great rock of the '60s to today's contemporary music."
A recent playlist from the show included the following artists: Bruce Springsteen doing an acoustic version of "Born to Run," Emerson Lake & Palmer singing a live cover of "Lucky Man" and Mason Williams offering an acoustic take on the '60s' instrumental "Classical Gas." Also on the list, the Rolling Stones playing the track "Not Fade Away," from an early album and Neil Young performing "After the Goldrush."
Classic rock has long been dominated by male performers, but Parets also sprinkles his playlists with female artists. "My favorite is Joni Mitchell," he said. Other women who can be heard on the show include: Laura Nyro, Janis Joplin, Heart, Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez.
Whether it's a classic rock male icon or the folk and jazz-influenced sounds of Mitchell, Parets keeps playing them on "The Acoustic Storm."
The reason, he said, is simple: "I'm committed to this music."
Anthony Violanti can be reached at 352-867-4154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sound of The Storm a Fond Memory
By Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
August 12, 2001
Many people remember the rumble of thunder and the voice. "The Storm in the Valley, KSTM, 107, Phoenix-Apache Junction."
Just as MTV was debuting on cable television, a new radio station was debuting on Valley radio. The Storm, as it was called, hung around for less than six years, soaking its audience in a mix of old music and new, insight and humor, with a lineup that could be the envy of any radio station today.
Doing business out of Apache Junction at 107.1 on the dial, KSTM-FM was the Valley's last refuge from highly formatted, overly programmed and irritatingly repetitive music. It debuted 20 years ago, on Aug. 5, 1981, with the Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows.
It featured Mary McCann, who later worked at KZON-FM (101.5); Andy Olson, now doing weekends on KSLX-FM (100.7); and Dennis McBroom and Lee Powell, who have been heard doing traffic reports on radio lately. Jeff Parets, who works at KJZZ-FM (91.5) and does a program for KSLX called The Acoustic Storm on Sunday mornings, was Program Director, Music Director and disc jockey.
"At the time, corporate rock was pervasive," Parets says. "There was such a large void for informative and entertaining music programming."
Variety, thoughtfulness, musical context and balance were the intangible keys to making it work.
The station resembled an FM from the early '70s, when the Top 40 charts included not just rock and pop music, but also country, jazz, even standards and show tunes. KSTM played such artists as U2, Police, Eurythmics and R.E.M. long before any other station. "For years, we were the only ones playing R.E.M.," Parets says.
Andy Olson, the KSLX personality who covered nights for KSTM, says the magic of the station was that "the audience was never sure what we were going to play next." It could be jazz, reggae, the new British rock or Rolling Stones. "People listened, and they stayed listening," he said.
The station had a weak signal. It couldn't reach the west side of town for much of its existence. The audience was small. Parets says the station averaged a 2 share, a rough indicator of percentage of the total audience. Such are the hazards of operating on a shoestring and playing not only popular songs but also deep cuts from albums, which many programmers say will drive away listeners.
The signal and the format gave KSTM the feeling of a feisty underdog that respected its audience.
"It was a special audience," Parets says. "It was not a passive audience."
The station broadcast for six years before its owners decided they could make more money by making it more like their AM station. On June 14, 1987, KSTM became KVVA-FM, the first Spanish station on FM in Phoenix. KVVA exists to this day.
The last song was The Who's The Song is Over.
Arizona Republic radio columnist Bud Wilkinson was deluged by letters from outraged listeners; he ran three columns covering them.
"I'm still in shock," wrote Jan Molina of Scottsdale three weeks later.
"Don't people have any pride in a quality product?" asked Michelle Frogge of Tempe.
"Once again, the powers that be have silenced the beat of those who march to the beat of a slightly different drummer. We are left with an audio wasteland consisting of the force-fed pabulum of `popular' music and the self-indulgent sameness of retread oldies," said Mike and Kathy Jacka of Phoenix.
The change was made quietly on a Sunday evening.
"People were heartbroken," Parets said.
Olson says, "You'd be amazed how many people call up and hang on to it, to this day.
There were a few attempts to recapture, the feeling, but none, not even full-powered KZON-FM (101.5) in its early days, could recapture lightning in the bottle.
Parets believes it could be done, however.
"If done right, a station could succeed. It depends on finding people (to hire) who believe in the concept. The audience was loyal, and you could sell that loyalty to advertisers."
Olson thinks it is more likely that such a station might show up on the Internet, but he also believes it could work.
"A station like that becomes your friend."
Perfect 'Storm' Rocks the Boat
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 26, 2000
Unless you like hearing the same five songs over and over again, you're probably bored with Phoenix radio. Our airwaves have been stuck on repeat for years.
One man stands above the dreck, however: Jeff Parets has been spinning interesting and daring music for stations like the late, lamented KSTM for more than 20 years.
Sunday marks the second anniversary of his latest program, The Acoustic Storm, on KSLX. As a special treat, Parets will spotlight the legendary Van Morrison, airing an hour's worth of acoustic music from The Man.
The show airs on Sunday mornings from 7 to 9 and features a broad range of acoustic music, from Clapton's recent blues to such virtuosos as Michael Hedges. (Heck, any deejay that plays Nick Drake deserves our applause.)
So check out The Acoustic Storm - unless of course, you enjoy hearing the new Creed single every half-hour.