We all know about the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, but did you realize there was a simultaneous golden age in New York City dance and hip-hop radio? Red Bull Music and director Joey Garfield brought together just about every notable living figure from that time, including DJs Marley Marl and Tony Humphries and producer Strafe, in the mini-documentary Revolutions On Air: the Golden Age of New York Radio, 1980-1988.
The documentary throws it back to a simpler time in music listening, when there were three stations in New York that played so-called “urban” music (WKTU, KISS FM, WBLS). A few DJs with impeccable taste and new techniques for playing music decided what was hot and set the pace for culture. Every DJ had his own style: Merlin Bobb played three records at once, the Latin Rascals were better at splicing tape than anyone else, Boyd Jarvis played keyboard solos over the tracks. It was an exciting time, when the DJs were just as creative as the producers and listeners didn’t know what they were going to hear next.
“We changed the sound of New York,” Boyd Jarvis says. Lots of people make that claim, but “we actually did.”