DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Fessa Hook Charts, Shows on Cashbox

Posted in Music Stories by darielb on January 29, 2009

The big news, as some of you heard at the
CBMA awards last month, is that the
resurrected Cashbox Magazine, now operating
online, is posting John Hook’s Top 40 Beach
Music Singles
and offering, not one, but two
new weekly, downloadable radio shows hosted
by the Fessa: the Beach Music Top 40 Countdown
and the new Yearly Beach MusicTop 40
Countdown
. (www.cashboxmagazine.com)

Cashbox considers John’s weekly Beach Music Top
40 Countdown to be the cutting edge of today’s
shag/bop/ beach music hits. The Yearly Beach Music
Top 40 Countdown is based on the top 40 for each year
from 1945 to 2006. It includes tunes like “My Girl” by
the Temptations, “Motown Song” by Rod Stewart, and
“Believe” by Cher, as well as many of the regional
favorites. John believes this familiarity combined with
the unknown is what will make it appealing to a broader audience.

Cashbox is a huge opportunity because it has such a long history
behind it,” John explained to me. “From 1942 to 1997 it was a
successful publication and now Cashbox online is growing an
an incredible rate. It’s risen 350% in the last year,
going from about 50,000 hits per month to three million.

“The list of countries that download our shows is
incredibly long. This marketing and exposure, I
think, is what has been missing in beach music.”

Hook is referring to ongoing discussions within
the relatively small beach music “industry” about
the need for more clearly redefining the genre or
even giving it a new moniker.

“People don’t need further definition,” he states
emphatically, “How clearly defined is rock & roll?
Yet people seem to ‘get’ it. People think it needs a new name? I think it
needs marketing and exposure. And Cashbox now
provides massive exposure.

“The Internet is changing everything. Clear
Channel has divested itself of what – 700 to 800
radio stations. The ‘underground’ has now become
more mainstream. Look at Widespread Panic, successfully
selling out their concerts without radio!”

John has been a trailblazer on both radio and the
Internet. Back in the seventies, John was a top jock
on Big Ways in Charlotte, North Carolina, WAYF.
His show was being watched by big dogs WABC in
New York, the Big Rocker in Cincinnati and Jack
Armstrong at KGB in San Diego.

As the anchor for the Endless Summer Network,
the beach music webcast at www.beachshag.com,
John Hook is still ahead of the game. In a telephone
interview, Bruce Elrod, president for Cashbox
Magazine, Inc. said, “John Hook is absolutely the
foremost authority of beach & boogie music. You
can’t find anyone better, and if you do, you can send
them to me!”

I’ve always been curious about how John’s charts
work. He tells me he’s got a website of some 30,000
unique listeners (who listen 24 hours a day, seven
days a week). He uses a fan base of 200 of those listeners
and a list of carefully chosen DJs, who keep
close track of what fills the dance floor.

“There are really a handful of DJs I pay serious
attention to,” says John, as only John Hook can say.
“They’re what I call ‘entertainer’ DJs. They have a
long history of playing shag songs and they keep a
watch on their crowd. Besides that, there are a
handful of radio stations with a large commitment
to beach music. A few of these folks have good
ears. In fact, that’s where Jackie Wilson’s
“Groovin'” on my chart came from.

“My chart is fan-based, and has been since 1978. Unlike many others,
I’m not driven to play just local artists …
because beach music was not built on local music!

“Now there is some notable local talent. Bo Shronce and the
Fantastic Shakers have some very inventive arrangements.
Jim Quick and Coastline … Jimmy’s certainly inventive …
Dino Fair and Sea-Cruz …some very innovative interpretations
there … Bill Bradford with Spirit Records in Charlotte also comes
up with interesting arrangements … Holiday Band has consistently
good interpretations …Tommy Black is a talented songwriter … Rick
Strickland
, also talented … Chris Biehler up in New
York has hit a home run or two.

“But not all the local entertainers are going to
make my charts because the DJs and fans reporting
to me aren’t driven by playing just local music.”
Never a dull moment with John Hook, huh?

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