Alternative Contraband‘s continuing series celebrating the specialty show host travels to the upper right hand corner of America where we introduce you to Mark Curdo longtime fixture in the Portland, Maine music scene having experience at the record store, artist management and record label level as well as spending 7+ years at Portland’s WCYY as night jock and Music Director. Curdo also is on the Board Of Directors at the Portland Music Foundation. Phew! Additionally Mark curates and hosts Spinout, his specialty show that we’re shining the, um, spotlight on in our continuing feature celebrating the specialty show host.
Get to know Mark Curdo by scoping his bio here
Check out Alternative Contraband’s interview with Mark.
Q1 How long have you hosted Spinout?
Mark Curdo Since February 2005. Spinout started when the station went on the air in the summer for 1995. It’s been on every week since and there’s only been one other host in those years.
Q2 What impact does your show have on standard 24/7 airplay?
Mark Curdo Spinout has helped break some music on CYY over the years. National, indie and local. Our local scene is strong and listeners support it heavy. Couple years ago, I played a new single from a local rapper named, Spose. The song was called, “I’m Awesome”. We ended up testing it out in rotation cause our PD also believed in it. It got top phones in about two days. Then it got picked up by our CHR sister station. Hit the top in phones in about a week. A month later he signed a deal with a major and the song went gold about 5 months after that.
It was a hot song for a while around the country. Kids loved him, hip hop fans respected him. Rock and alternative kids got him too obviously, because he launched from our station which is alternative. He record about 3 albums worth of good material to follow up. He did festivals and shows with Wiz Khalifa, Weezer, Cage the Elephant, B.O.B, etc. Some people saw his talent beyond the music. MTV programming chose him to host a new interactive show they were planning. Not surprisingly, the label didn’t put an album out. Not even an Ep. I guess he didn’t show any signs of potential. This was all from specialty support, initially. It was crazy to see what happened to him so quickly. It’s a shame more stations won’t take a chance to launch new artists. It’s great to have the country focus back on your station for being ground zero for a breakthrough artist/song.
Q3 Do you keep past playlists? What are the top five played bands all time on Spinout?
Mark Curdo For sure. It’s probably a college radio thing in all of us. The pride of what we played and the history of our spins and all that.
Most played bands on Spinout (not including locals); Danko Jones, the Melvins, Gaslight Anthem, Against Me! and probably The Hold Steady and Spoon. That was 6, sorry. Oh and probably Delta Spirit and maybe The Horrors.
Q4 Aside from being a lucky duck and getting tons of music mailed to you, how else do you find new music for your show?
Mark Curdo I guess just being music fan and doing the things music fans do I suppose. I talk a lot to friends and people who love music. I got to shows in town a couple nights a week to check out local shows & national bands.Portland has live music 7 days a week. It’s a great music city. I skim through some magazines from time to time. I’m in record stores at least once a week too. Some DJ’s out there might be able to relate; besides getting a lot of music at the station, I still spend more than just about anyone I know on music. On-line/web? Yeah a bit, but that comes in last behind everything else mentioned before.
Q5 Do you feel the specialty show curator and host is underappreciated in America?
Mark Curdo Of course, which is still crazy to think because these are the most important hours on radio. It’s hilarious when label reps come in to talk the music staff up on records I’ve been playing on Spinout for months. And most don’t know! Or the ones that do, obviously don’t care or they forgot because they don’t say anything about it. Says a lot about how things are working out there. Sure, it’s not the 35 spins a week you’re eventually gunning for, but right now you’ve got nothing. Nothing, but my show. A show people seem to enjoy and trust for new music. I’m a believer here and now. Why bypass that? How do you disregard or not appreciate that support? How do you not build off of that support? Everyone wants the easy win!
To be honest though, I don’t need a label’s appreciation. I love the opportunity to bring music to the air and I deeply respect that. I do this show for bands and artists who deserve support and for people who love music.
But really, don’t ask me. Ask our good friend Rodney Bingenheimer. This isn’t anything new.
Q6 What specialty shows and radio tastemakers do you stay tuned in with?
Mark Curdo I don’t really follow anyone to be honest. I don’t mean that in a snotty way at all. There’s many great people on radio. I poke around sometimes to just see who’s doing what and what’s going on. Not much though. I don’t like to be influenced by other stations or other jocks. I want all my picks to be from me from making the effort to listen to a record and checking out a band. I like to see what’s out there for music, peel through a stack of discs and make decisions from there. I’m more of a music person than a radio person I suppose at the end of the day. I love the excitement of finding a great song. Maybe a song that no ones really getting behind. I love that they have a shot to be heard on a big level with Spinout.
Q7 Is the show always live? Tell us about listener response and feedback to shape your show
Mark Curdo It used to be live every time. After some rescheduling and changes the shows not always live now. I’d much rather do it live. It’s a rush when you put on a great tune you believe in and you’re hearing with the listeners.
In regards to listener response, I get plenty through Facebook, email and some phones. I get plenty in person too at shows or record stores. Restaurants, Target.
Q8 How do you create the feel and flow for each show? Is it tempo, genre, mood?
Mark Curdo I like some flow. Not a ton though. I like giving a taste then slamming into something else. Like… I might play the new Danko Jones into Metz into Indian Handcrafts into Jon Spencer Blues Explosion then slam into Aesop Rock, Tame Impala, Amanda Palmer and The Wombats. Then Bob Mould and then slam into Testament and Gypsyhawk, then back to The Heavy and Pujol.
To me, good music is good music. So it all flows together. One of the best things to hear from listeners is when metal people tell me they love the Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears song I played. Or when an indie hipster or Americana roots dude tells me they loved the new Biffy Clyro or Gallows song. It’s all about the music and the people who love and appreciate music and want more music. When we can understand and appreciate that, I think radio and the music industry will be headed back in the right direction. It’s not about the same music or less music. It’s about more music! People are getting music wherever and whenever they want to get it. Why should radio lose out from being the ones to give it to them? It’s so tired that technology is a scapegoat for the problems at radio. Technology won’t stop you from deciding to play new music. It just might beat you to it though. With this generation growing up with technology in their religion, they’re going to always look first to the ones who bring it to their attention first.