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Break on Through: Remembering The Diamond

The studio light would blink. I’d answer the phone, expecting a buzzed request for Metallica or Aerosmith. “KDDX, this is Dan.”

“Dan. This is Diamond. Tighten the fuck up!” Click.

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In a radio studio the phone never rings, but the light is always blinking. Nighttime radio is great. Broadcasting from the Black Hills of Western South Dakota a 100 thousand watt FM signal travels across five states of prairie towns, military bases, and truck stops. Thousands of people all dial in to the same chatter of music, local low-budget ads, fast jokes, and rock ‘n’ roll.  The listeners talk back to the radio. The phone rings and the studio light blinks.

I used to work the afternoon drive at a big rock station in the Black Hills region. It’s a small but fun radio market, and we were a highly-rated station. When the drive time shift ended I would stick around on-air as I recorded my evening voice track recording for the weekend hours. Punching the ‘on-air’ button is a lot of fun regardless of market size, and our station had a big and rowdy audience. Answering the phone at X-Rock station was frequently an adventure. Sometimes the caller just wanted to hear that one Alice in Chains song. Again. And sometimes the listener was roaring backstage at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Talking up and down the ramp of Walk This Way is fun every time, though, and with a big audience it’s easy to get a little cocky on-air. I turned up the studio monitors, glance at the music and production list, cut an ad, punched a talk set, and repeated the cycle through the hot-clock. The station light blinked. I had just cut the air and was expecting to get a buzzed request for Metallica or Aerosmith.

The light blinked. I answered.

“KDDX, this is Dan.”

“Dan. This is Diamond.”

“Hey Diamond, thanks for-“

“I’ve been taping your show all night. Tighten the fuck up!”

Click.

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In May my friend and mentor Dave Diamond passed away. Here’s the post from his website, and a eulogy from The Hollywood Reporter:

In 1967, Diamond was one of the first disc jockeys to play “Light My Fire” by The Doors, then a largely unknown L.A. band, and he connected listeners to The Seeds, Iron Butterfly, Love, Linda Ronstadt and other acts who at the time could not find airplay.

Through his Black Hills Music publishing company, the South Dakota native was the publisher of “Incense and Peppermints,” the psychedelic pop hit from The Strawberry Alarm Clock that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list in May 1967.

Named one of “America’s Early Radio Idols” by Billboard, Diamond was one of the few radio reporters to tour with The Beatles during their first trip to America.

And on a 1967 edition of The Dating Game, Diamond was one of the three bachelors attempting to woo actress Yvonne Craig (TV’s Batgirl.)

Diamond was an academic and a rock ‘n’ roll radio jock. His influence was both personal and vast. “Tighten the fuck up” is the closest I can come to a story that properly (impossibly) summarizes the personal impact of a guy who also influenced thousands listeners and students. I’m willing to be that a lot of Diamond’s friends and family have similar stories and feel the same way about their relationship with him.

“Tighten the fuck up” became a mantra that was always coupled with a productive and inspiring session of granular critiques. Always tough, never negative Diamond expected work to be good, rehearsed, and repeatable. This value was one many Diamond’s Laws to Live By to which he attributed his personal and professional success.

Here’s one of my favorite Diamond’s Laws to Live By:

Life is short. It can be snatched from you instantly … that is why we must do our best to do good, to love, and not waste too much time! Time bleeds!

Of course, Diamond taught more than just the value of practice and hard work. From him I learned a ton of practical lessons about the media industry, the history of rock ‘n’ roll, and his home, the Black Hills. Diamond helped coach me through the process of running a radio station, starting a business, and managing people. Sure, Diamond was a successful guy and taught a lot of lessons. The practical lessons, however, were always coupled with his consistent reminders about healthy and smart living.

Be a good person. Do the right thing. But don’t take no shit from fools.

I was fortunate to be one of many young people Diamond mentored. As a great DJ, one of Diamond’s many skills was his ability to develop intimate and sincere relationships with a diverse and large group of people. His method was hands on, cerebral, and personal. Diamond’s friends and students now work in media across the country. And with the success of his friends comes the inherent dissemination of Diamond’s values and creativity.

As he was in life and on-air, with his passing Diamond remains a broadcaster. His values are the transmitter, and the people he taught are the signal.

Turn up the radio. Thanks for listening. Break on though.

- Dan

Here’s Diamond during the final hour of Burbank’s KBLA rock program:

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The Redline: EP00 Pre-Pilot Demo: The State of News & Politics

Dan Patterson:

“Tighten the fuck up.” ‘Nuff said.

Originally posted on The Redline:

The Redline is getting closer to our inaugural season of episodes. We’ll launch with a limited run of 4 – 6 episodes. Each episode will contain news headlines, a topical discussion, and individual link picks. A few weeks ago Doc, Greg, and myself sat down to record a pre-pilot beta episode. While The Redline is an amateur and collaborative project, we’d like the final product to sound prepared and professional. We’re in no rush to launch an sloppy, low-quality show and rehearsal episodes have helped us figure out our content and personality flow.

Doc and I first collaborated on KBHU-FM, our college radio station. We practiced and worked hard, but were young, inexperienced, and far from ideal broadcasters. Even after we got the hang of radio hosting, after a solid talkset my radio mentor, Dave Diamond, used to phone the studio to let us know his thoughts. I have…

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The Troubleshooter: Trouble in the Black Hills by Dave Diamond

Dan Patterson:

Last month I went to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota and  helped Diamond – my radio and broadcasting mentor –  to get his digital presence up to spend, and his classic books published as ebooks. Through the week he banged out this classic Western adventure story. The Troubleshooter is re-worked from a series Diamond wrote in the ’70’s called Slade. Diamond wrote most of the copy in Trouble in the Black Hills – a classic western adventure, and a fast, fun read – over coffee and bourbon while riding out a blizzard in South Dakota this past September.

Originally posted on Dave Diamond: The Diamond Mine:

the_trouble_shooter_coverGreetings, friends, fans, and colleagues of the Diamond! We’re excited to announce that Diamond has completed his first fiction novel in several years, The Troubleshooter: Trouble in the Black Hills!

Here’s a blurb:

Dave Diamond returns to form with this classic western series The Troubleshooter. Starring Slim Winner, Trouble in the Black Hills, is an action-packed adventure story that chases cowboys, claim-jumpers, and outlaws from the Badlands to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

Diamond will soon update this site with a few blog posts about the writing process. In the mean time, you can read a free sample of the book here, and you can purchase Trouble in the Black Hills in the Amazon Kindle store (Apple iBooks, coming soon)!

Thanks for listening and stay tuned!

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Diamond’s Laws To Live By: Fear is one of the most negative emotions. It can immobilize the best of people.

From Diamond’s Laws To Live By #11:

Fear is one of the most negative emotions. It can immobilize the best of people.

Here are a few more quality laws to live by on Fear:

Fear is another form of mind static.

Doubts and jealousies often beget the fact they fear. –Thomas Jefferson

That which you fear most will come unto you. (Jesus of Nazareth, preacher and teacher.) This means if you think negative thoughts you will draw negative conditions to your life. Fear is mental poison.

The takeaway: actions that arise from fear, uncertainty, and doubt will hinder your personal and professional development.  Being risk-adverse and capitulating to caution is often the safe stance but rarely the wise choice.

Rebellion against your weaknesses gets you nowhere. Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring spirit to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and understand the most interesting game in the works is making the most of one’s best.

More Diamond’s Laws to Live By

/via @creepysleepy:

http://www.mydamnchannel.com/xml/mdc_embed_wide.swf?episode=6372

/via @creepysleepy:

My friend and Brooklyn Heights neighbor John Loscalzo recently interviewed innovative and controversial media veteran Lee Abrams.   As a personal side-note, Abrams, former Chief Innovation Officer for the Tribune Company, was a colleague of my mentor Dave Diamond.

Link to Video

RAMP video: John Loscalzo conducts our exclusive interview with Lee Abrams. The former Chief Innovation Officer of The Tribune Company grants his first video interview to My Damn Channel after resigning.

Lee Abrams has a long history in radio and satellite. He offers his thoughts about the King of All Media, Howard Stern.

The Audience Conference – Live at Carolines on Broadway

Radio, Technology, and Rock ‘n’ Roll; or: Tighten the Fuck Up.

This past Saturday I spoke at and attended the 2nd annual Audience Conference hosted by Loren Feldman, aka, 1938 Media [Flickr photoset].

Dan Patterson – Live at Caroline’s on Broadway – Audience Conference 2010

The emphasis of Audience Conference is exactly that: audience.  Loren Feldman is no stranger to controversy, yet as individuals go he has one of the largest and most engaged audiences online.  To that end, Loren both emphasizes and epitomizes the mantra of “It’s about the people, stupid.”

My speech kicked off Audience at the bright hour of 10 am.  I told a short story about learning to do rocknroll radio and my mentor Dave Diamond.  Prior to the conference I used Tumblr to prepare for the speech and express a few thoughts on my central theme of “Tighten the Fuck Up”:

Tomorrow I’m giving a short speech at The Audience Conference at Carolines in Manhattan.  While this is loosely a technology conference I am going to focus on the correlations and differences between broadcast radio and the web.  In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s my mentor, Dave Diamond, was a rock ‘n’ roll DJ in LA and San Francisco.  Diamond booked early Doors shows, wrote songs with Janis Joplin, and was on the first Beatles tour.  

Equally auspicious was Diamond’s tenure as one of the nine original ‘Boss Jocks’ with Bill Drake at KHJ in Los Angeles.  Radio in 2010 has moved far from it’s rocknroll roots.  The  once-electrifying medium has become a tepid and stale homogenized wasteland of predictability.  But in 1965 rock radio was at it’s pinnace and epitomized the maturity of the medium. The technological innovation had reached it’s apex and united people through communities of common interest.  And to be a ‘Boss Jock’ was to be at the electric center of a technological storm.

Along with my knowledge of The Diamond, the more I learn about Boss Radio and the innovations of Bill Drake the more correlations I see between early rocknroll pioneers and contemporary web innovators.  I’ll rap a little bit about this tomorrow.  For the time being, follow the link for some choice cuts from The Diamond.

Video via @1938Media.

Loren Feldman Live at Carolines for Audience Conference 2010The first Audience Conference was in a nice Midtown theatre.  Like most tech conferences it featured a few notable speakers, all dressed in suits or jeans and a blazer.  Nothing wrong with that, but there’s also not much compelling about yet another coffee-stale tech event.  

This year changed everything.  Loren moved the venue to Carolines on Broadway, a famous Manhattan comedy club.  He also eschewed the traditional ‘thought-leader-blah-blah-blah formula in favor of an comedian/technologist amalgamation.  The formula worked flawlessly.   And by mixing speakers like Jason Calacanis, Chris Brogan, and CC Chapman with comedians like Harrison Greenbaum, Morgan Murphy, and Carmen Lynch Audience 2 set a creative template for future events. 

Technology, needless to say, thrives on innovation.  Yet the industry itself can be stiflingly homogenous. After the event I encouraged Loren to forget the tech crowd and instead follow in the footsteps of spoken-word greats like Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra, and Bill Hicks.

I have utterly no doubt that the future iterations of Audience Conference will draw high-quality speakers and guests.  But I’m equally confident that Loren will innovate and bring a much-needed punk-rock spirit to an otherwise button-up business.  I highly encourage you to attend Audience 3, whenever and whereever it may be.

 

- DHP

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