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Celebrating the First Anniversary of Revival with Michael Atchison

If you’re familiar with Michael Atchison’s work as a music, sports and pop culture writer — including his blogs for 90.9 The Bridge and a couple of published novels — you know that he brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. This Sunday, April 14, his radio show, Revival with Michael Atchison, celebrates its first anniversary! The show, which takes a retrospective look at songs from classic artists, has already featured 755 distinct artists in its first 52 episodes. Tune in on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon to celebrate with Michael, and get to know the show a bit better by reading a quick Q&A.

What are some of your biggest highlights from the past year of Revival?

First off, it has been great fun. The Bridge has given me total freedom to do the show, which has allowed me to cover a breadth of music that most other stations would never allow. Over the first year, we played Public Enemy, Frank Sinatra, the Sex Pistols, ABBA, Howlin’ Wolf, King Crimson, Lauryn Hill, Dolly Parton, Van Halen and The Flamin’ Groovies, to name just 10. By any conventional radio calculus, that would be crazy, but The Bridge’s audience is adventurous enough that I can put all of these disparate artists together in a way that makes sense. That has been really gratifying.

And though most editions of the show don’t have a single unifying theme, it has been good to be able to get fully immersed in a subject from time to time. For instance, when Aretha Franklin died, we devoted a full show to her songs and her life. That was powerful. And when the 50th anniversary of the White Album approached, we did three full shows that traced chronologically the music of the years 1963 to 1968. I learned a lot by putting those shows together. First, by playing the songs in the order in which they were released, I got a real sense of how the music evolved and how one song influenced another, which was fun. I also got a sense of how time distorts history. There were songs that were massive in their day (“Dominique” by the Singing Nun) for instance, that have faded from memory, while others (e.g., the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds”) that have grown dramatically in stature over the years. That sort of musical minutiae is endlessly appealing to me.

What artists in particular have you enjoyed being able to share with others?

So, so many. Though artists like The Beatles, Prince, Joni Mitchell and Elvis Costello form the backbone of the show and have been played repeatedly, many of my favorite songs are by bands who had one or two great ones in them, but never broke through. I feel like the late 1970s and early 1980s were rife with acts like that, ones who were completely overshadowed by The Clash, Talking Heads and The Pretenders. So I’ve enjoyed playing the likes of The Only Ones, the Tom Robinson Band, Holly & The Italians, the Rezillos (and their offshoot, the Revillos), the Rubinoos, The Cryers, The Records, The Nerves and many others. But the same goes for many R&B artists of the 1960s, for great singers from an earlier era (Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan) who don’t get played much anymore, and for all sorts of artists (Scott Walker, Kirsty MacColl) who seem to fall beyond the boundaries of almost all radio formats. I’ll stop there, but I could answer this question all day long.

What plans do you have for the show in the upcoming year?

When KCPT airs the Ken Burns Country Music documentary in September, I’ll devote a full show to country music, which should be fun. I grew up hearing a lot of it (it was my parents’ preferred music), but I didn’t like it at all when I was a kid. Over time, though, I’ve come to love the country music of the 1960s and ‘70s especially, and I’m looking forward to going back even earlier to Hank Williams and his contemporaries, and tracing the evolution that produced women with powerful points of view (Loretta Lynn), plainspoken poets (Merle Haggard) and artists who erased any lines between country and rock and roll (Gram Parsons, Uncle Tupelo, etc.). I’m also planning to devote a show to the 40th anniversary of the music of 1979, which was a spectacular year.

Revival with Michael Atchison airs every Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. If you miss the show live, all episodes are available at our show archive at this link.

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