Pix To Come
BY BEN STURTEVANT
The San Diego music scene is booming, and many people in the radio industry think the city could become as hot a commodity to the recording industry as Seattle's.
San Diego's radio stations have played an important role in giving area artists exposure. On Aug. 16, many local radio figures gathered at the third annual San Diego Music Awards at Humphrey's to honor the city's finest artists. Winning musicians ran the gamut of categories: alternative rock, hard rock, country, contemporary and mainstream jazz, rap, hip-hop/rap, blues, reggae and Latin.
Coe Lewis, host of "The Homegrown Show" Sunday nights on KGB, expressed both concern and optimism about the local music scene.
"It has every sign that it's going to take off," she said. "There are so many different facets to this scene. It's very diverse. I'm afraid all these great artists we have in town are going to get looked over. I'm afraid we're getting pigeon-holed."
Lewis is worried that the city will become known just for its harder-edged alternative sound.
KiFM's Kelly Cole, a native San Diegan who hosts "San Diego Jazz Spotlight" on Sunday nights, disagrees.
"I don't think San Diego will be the next Seattle in terms of rock 'n' roll," she said. "It's a sleepy laid-back mellow city."
That may be true, but there's more music than ever being produced here.
"It's changed," KKOS's Ron Lane, who hosts "Mellow Rock Locals," said of the local music scene. "I'm getting so much good stuff in, it's getting difficult. I can't play it all. There's so much good talent in every different category of music. Part of it may be technology. Just about anyone can put together a good tape."
However, according to Cole, promoting is not radio's role.
"I like to give everyone a chance," Cole said. "I try to mix it up; but I don't think a radio station is here to promote. I do what I can. I think it can only go so far. I can't make their careers. Many of them do an exceptional job of doing it on their own.
"We do play more local artists than anybody in this city. I'd say much more than any format, local bands have a chance at making it nationally with our format."
While radio professionals are optimistic that the scene will take off, they're also hoping that the potential greed and jealousy created by looming recording contracts doesn't compromise the music.
"Hopefully, it won't be the way Seattle was," said Lou Niles, a native San Diegan who hosts the local music show called "Loudspeaker Mondays" on 91X. "The record companies used Seattle up. People sold their souls, and now the scene's dead."
San Diego's music environment doesn't seem as competitive as music scenes in other cities. Niles, who hangs out with many local musicians, noted that the laid-back San Diegan style relaxes the rivalry.
"Here everybody's buddies; they go out and see each other play and play together," he said. "It's more close-knit. Other scenes seem to be more of a bloodletting, cutthroat competition."
National magazines like Details, Billboard, The New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly have hyped San Diego's hot music scene. The Stone Temple Pilots, a homegrown band, grace the cover of Spin magazine this month.
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