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Updated 10/6/98 4:30PM CDT
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DATE: July 21, 1997
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
KBON FM in Eunice Plays Louisiana Music
Commercial Radio Station is "Louisiana Proud"
(EUNICE LA) July 21, 1997-Many dreams have come true with the launch of KBON FM 101.1 in Eunice, Louisiana. "It's been my dream for nearly 20 years," says owner, station manager and bilingual (Cajun French) top deejay, Paul Marx. "I knew that you could play mostly Louisiana music at a commercial radio station and make it work." Though on the air for only 8 weeks, and still working out the kinks of achieving its rated 50,000 watts, KBON is already proving Marx's point.
With just two week's promotion, a listener appreciation party held at Gilton's Club east of town one recent Sunday from 10 am until well after dark drew more than 1,500 people. Of course featuring artists like Rosie Ledet, Warren Storm, Lee Benoit, Al Jackson, Two Blue, River Road, Spicy Cajun Band and many others&emdash;all of whom appeared free of charge in gratitude for the amount of air play KBON has already given them&emdash;made the listener party well worth the drive.
"KBON is great news for the Louisiana music industry," said Louisiana Music Commission (LMC) Chairman and noted music educator, Ellis L. Marsalis Jr. "Without strong support from radio, most artists don't have a chance. With KBON, a radio station owner is doing the right thing to make the music economy work." Marsalis is also the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans, and the patriarch of a jazz legacy represented by sons Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis.
"I spend a great deal of my time as Executive Director of the LMC trying to get radio and television to realize the value of Louisiana music programming," said Bernie Cyrus, who has worked for the LMC since 1992. "I've voluntarily hosted literally thousands of hours of radio and TV, exposing Louisiana artists to the public and stimulating the retail economy of music. KBON is my dream come true, too. Now we'll be able to prove that you can run a radio station, serve your community by featuring local artists and make a profit. I'm excited for Paul Marx and for the possibilities for Louisiana music and musicians." Cyrus has created, hosted and produced original shows featuring Louisiana music for commercial radio and television. Until the opening of KBON, Bernie Cyrus' efforts helped put more Louisiana artists onto commercial radio and television than ever in the history of the state.
KBON is already having a profound ripple effect on the music economy of southwest Louisiana. "I've had two local recording studios call me to say 'thanks,' because artists are booking time in the studios to make records now that they have a radio station on which to get air play," said Marx. "And I've heard from nightclub owners who tell me that artists we play are drawing bigger crowds." Even older artists, like Rod Bernard and Warren Storm have contacted Marx in appreciation, because KBON is creating new demand for their live performances.
The station is also already proving its ability to build the careers of new artists. New Orleans native Al Jackson is a 23 year old who sounds so much like Fats Domino that when you hear his recently-released recording ("Poor Man's Blues" on New Orleans-based Kolab Records) on the air, you think he is Fat's. KBON began playing Al Jackson just a few weeks ago; and, at the appreciation party at Gilton's, he was the biggest star of the day. Many in the audience left their seats to gather around the stage to get closer to Jackson, who's tight set and piano playing impressed the crowd. "Al Jackson is getting lots of requests at the station," said Marx. "And I'm impressed that Jackson has so many original songs. He's not just imitating Fats by covering all the old hits; and the audience loves him."
"This is a wonderful opportunity for Louisiana artists and labels," adds Chairman Marsalis. "Radio is the biggest factor in helping an artist develop a relationship with the buying public. In other words, this is great because it will help musicians make a living."
Eunice, founded in 1895, has long been recognized as one of the important musical centers of the state. "The Cajun Prairie area is a musical estuary," says Bernie Cyrus. The National Park Service operates a visitor center/museum and hosts the musical variety show called "Rendez Vous de Cajuns" every Saturday evening in the restored Liberty Theater. The show draws enthusiastic crowds and is a magnet for cultural tourism. "I traveled to Eunice and went to the Liberty for the "Rendez Vous" and I thought I was in Heaven," added Bernie Cyrus. "I can't wait to go back. I plan to bring some of my record collection and spend time on the air with Paul. I can't wait."
KBON has an "open door" policy with Louisiana artists and music notables. People drop in and are put on the air to talk to the deejay&emdash;and the audience. "We think it adds a wonderful bit of spontaneity, of course," says Paul Marx. "But it also shows a respect for the musicians, and without them none of us would be having any fun!"
The KBON signal is reaching a large part of the Cajun Prairie. The surrounding towns of Mamou, VIlle Platte, Opelousas, Crowley, Church Point, Lawtell and Rayne have all produced advertisers for the new station, proving that KBON has a regional appeal that is commercially viable. "They're playing records I forgot I released," said legendary record producer and promoter Floyd Soileau of Ville Platte, owner of Floyd's, Swallow Records and literally hundreds of recordings. "People here are really appreciating this music and I'm selling more records."
KBON features Cajun, zydeco, soul, swamp pop, blues, classic country and gospel music. "But I'm open to ideas and styles," says Marx, as if there's room for more. "We're on the air 24 hours a day. Soon I hope to feature jazz, rock and any genre of Louisiana music that's popular. I just want to prove the value of all this music and do something good for Louisiana. That's why we're 'Louisiana Proud'." The station's "Louisiana Proud" slogan is its most mentioned phrase on the air.
"This is an important litmus test for the viability of Louisiana music on commercial radio," said Chairman Marsalis. "If this station survives and thrives, it could be the catalyst for making many people's dreams come true. I believe this is a significant moment in Louisiana musical history, and hope this starts a trend. We must recognize the value of music in affecting our quality of life, our cultures and our economic future."
The station needs to receive recordings from Louisiana record labels and artists. The LMC recommends that all Louisiana artists and recording companies make KBON a part of their promotional mailings of CDs and press releases relating to performances in the Acadiana area.
Louisiana Music Commission 3330 N. Causeway Blvd. Suite 438 Metairie LA 70002
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