I wouldn’t expect many people outside of the LA area to know who Rodney Bingenheimer is. In fact, I wouldn’t even expect most KROQ listeners to know who he is. Why is that? He’s been a “cutting edge” DJ since 1976, being the first to play tons of great new music and bands that have gone on to be huge that I know most people actually have heard. He’s been a fixture on the LA music scene as a DJ, journalist, club owner, etc. but his famous friends and his experience in the music business are not what makes him special. Not even the 2003 documentary about his life The Mayor of the Sunset Strip.
Rodney is an unlikely figure to respect because he’s not actually the best DJ. His voice is definitely memorable, but not the usual professional DJ style. He’s not even that good at interviewing, even after 20-odd years on the radio. To this day, he still sounds a little nervous and shy on the air. I’ve never met or seen him in person (though I did win a Daniel Ash CD from him even though I answered the question wrong!). After years of listening to him (and reading bios and reviews of the movie), I know he is just a genuine, loyal music fanatic who wants to share the good music that he finds. And you think that after years of being around music, he’d get sick of all the phonies. I don’t think he is because he’s still doing his show from midnight to 3 AM on KROQ. To his loyal fans and listeners, this is a real travesty because he probably started playing most of the music which has made the station better.
I know it sounds like I’m kissing butt (which I really hate to do), but honestly, I wouldn’t know a lot of the music I’ve listened to without Rodney on the Roq. I listened to tons of radio during high school and college, and his show actually stood out among the masses. I’ve recently discovered there have been websites set up to support Rodney. One is an online petition to give him back his old time slot from 7 to 10 PM. That would be nice and all, but I think what we really need is a podcast for people who don’t live in the KROQ listening area. There were “Rodcasts” set up on his Yahoo Group mailing list, but those seem to have disappeared already. The second site is Rodney on the Walk which is a site where you can donate to the cause of raising $15,000 to get him his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That might be a little unnecessary, but I can’t say he doesn’t deserve it.