CARELESS NAVIGATOR INTERVIEW WITH KOOP KOOPER
…l had a chat with my good buddy Koop about the past, present and future of the Cocktail Nation Podcast. Here is what he had to say.
CN.What was the original concept for Cocktail Nation?
KOOP. Well after listening to a few other shows around I felt that what was missing was a current vibe in the broadcasts. There are plenty of new artists but they weren’t getting a red hot go on either radio or podcasts which I felt was wrong. It’s great to play the classic artists but why ignore today’s scene. That’s why I wanted to have a 50/50 playlist so I could give the time to both the old and the new. I also felt that I wanted to hear a show that taps into the scene, tells me what to check out and where to go and what I might like to buy plus there is the interview factor. I wanted to touch base with the scene, talk to the stars, talk to the movers and shakers and give publicity to events people should support.Essentially the show is an audio magazine.
CN. Does it still hold true and has it changed over time?
KOOP. Absolutley, infact nothing has changed really, about the only addition is the Ask Koop section which really was introduced because of the volume of mail I get. I thought, well for some reason people are seeing me as the arbiter of taste, fashion and social graces so I thought why not read these out on air and have some fun with it. This also goes with another mantra of the show to have fun with it, too many music shows take themselves too seriously and it’s all about who recorded what album, when it was recorded, who played sax…all very serious and not much fun. I don’t want to listen to a musical encyclopedia.
Now when I make these grand statements about things I don’t like about other shows you must understand that this is not directed at a particular show, or particular shows in our scene, it’s just a blanket statement about lots of shows and I listen to lots of people’s shows.
CN. Can you remember episode No.1?
KOOP. Sadly yes, it was bit like a teenager, kinda ugly and awkward. Nah look it was ok, just not formed as well as it is today. It was fulfilling to get it done and see how long it would take to produce, plus as a guy who has worked on air in commerical radio across various formats like Top 40, Easy Listening, Adult Contemporary and Talkback, doing a show like this has been a dream come true and has been something I have wanted to do for most of my radio life. Equipment back ten years ago was really expensive and not something just anyone could buy. Nowadays the equipment is easily available and much more affordable. If I could have done Cocktail Nation ten years ago I would have, mind you the internet at that stage was so slow, plus the pickup in the last seven years means a show like mine is more accessible.
CN. What are the benefits and problems of being basically a one man radio station?… DJ, Producer, technician, etc.
KOOP. The benefit of running your own syndicated show is that you are the boss. No Program Director telling you what to do, it’s your vision, your baby…..downside I suppose is the extra work that goes into producing a show. I do have a little help with imaging and production from Stephen Walter who is also the voiceover guy on the show. He has been a great asset and is a highly valued member of the team.
CN. There is always an interview component to the show, how difficult generally is that to arrange?
KOOP. Not very, I work hard to schedule things weeks in advance. This takes alot of planning and juggling especially if something major happens like a star passing away or some big news that needs to be looked at.
CN. Favorite interview?
KOOP. Well I have two….Shelley Berman the commedian from the fifties and sixties who is still working. Man what a guy, he played the Judge on Boston Legal not so long ago. I only came across him by accident. I was at my holiday house on the south coast and was flipping through the record bins of a charity store (yes I know, Koop you are supposed to be on holidays and you are still looking for records) and I found the album Inside Shelley Berman. I took it home, put it in the library and a few months later thought I would feature the album on the show so I started doing research and found him alive and well, I emailed him and we went from there.
Similar story with Jack Costanzo Mr Bongo, found he had a myspace page and was still playing and in perfect health. Talking to these guys is just amazing, you just have to soak it all in because it’s a once in a lifetime chance
CN. What interview would you love to get?
KOOP. Tony Bennett, I have so much I want to ask him, still working on that one…his people are talking to my people.
CN. You’ve come this far with Cocktail Nation where do you see it going?
KOOP. Well I am talking to some people about getting the show on more radio stations in the US. There is a well known oldies network that is interested in us at the moment. I am also working on a Cocktail Nation book that will cover some 25 interviews, there will be a transcription of the interview, bios, commentry and pictures.
CN. You obviously have a great love of the music you play, where do you source it?
KOOP. Kooper spends lots of time in charity stores. All the old ladies know me and they hold records for me constantly. It’s getting abit difficult lately with the whole Cougar thing becoming popular, some of the old ladies think that because they found me a rare Hugo Montenegro album that the can use that to bribe me into buying them Sherry’s at the bowling club. Sadly I usually do.
CN. Are you consistently amazed by what you find?
KOOP. All the time, I am pleased because the bins are starting to dry up. I do spend a lot of time at record swap fairs and that where the best stuff is…it’s just that those cats know how much the records are worth.
Thank goodness the old ladies at the charity store don’t have the internet and can read this interview cos I might have to do more than buy them Sherry at the bowling club.
CN. What are you listening to at the moment?
KOOP. Bob Thompson’s Sound of Speed vinyl re release through Sundazed records, I am still trying to get my head around that album.
CN. Will podcasts ever be or are they already a threat to traditional commercial radio?
KOOP. No as far as commercial radio is concerned it’s still listened to by most people, infact I have read stats that say their numbers are up.
Podcasts are wonderful but I do recall when I heard about the concept at it’s inception I thought that it was just going to be a bunch of radio announcer wannabes that could be worse than public radio. Turns out commercial radio have used podcasts as a form of content for listeners who want more from their station which really is great as it raised the level of professionalism for podcasting and by and large has raised the standard of the shows and the standard that listeners expect. Podcasts by people like me won’t every be a threat but there is an overall threat of more choice for the consumer which I suppose can affect ratings, but I seriously doubt that.
CN. Do you see the future of podcasts purely on a niche listenership or is there the potential for a more broad based mass appeal?
KOOP. Certainly there is mass appeal for commercial and goverment broadcasters. Shows like mine exist because some people do want niche programming and podcasts and public radio give them that.
CN. Sinatra or Martin?
KOOP, Sinatra. I have to say that because I must have about 20 bios about him in my collection
CN. Bacharach or David?
KOOP. I subscribe to the Bacharachian lifestyle
CN. Lyman or Denny?
KOOP. You know you can’t beat those album covers….Denny
CN. Mai Tai or a Zombie?
KOOP. Zombie, so much work for one drink, you have to respect that man.
CN. Trader Vic or Donn Beach? (almost the same question as above)
KOOP. Donn…what a guy
CN. Dinner Suit or Sports Jacket?
KOOP. Whilst I love wearing a dinner suit I must say that I am photographed always in a sports coat, I also have fifteen of them.
Thanks Koop for taking the time to answer my questions… l owe you a Zombie
CN. Jagger or Richards? (just kidding thought, l’d sneak that one in)
KOOP. Well as they say in Wayne’s World, conventional weapons cannot kill Keith Richards…so Keith all the way. Man that guy must have partied hard.