Friday, July 12, 2013

Disco demolition night, 1979

I recall reading a discussion on the message boards of UK DJ Norman Jay's website several years back. It talked about why some disco records from the late 70s were so rare. Norman Jay mentioned the widespread destruction of disco records that happened following the rise of anti-disco sentiment in the US around 1979, fueled by a large number of radio stations adopting this formula.

This led to events such as Chicago DJ Steve Dahl's infamous disco demolition night, held during a baseball game. It resulted in a riot that caused the rest of the baseball game to be called off.

See "Burn media burn". snip... "Was this a spontaneous act of anti-disco combustion, or part of a coordinated campaign? Echols points out that AOR's war on disco was no accident. Two radio consultants discovered that these strange jihads boosted listenership and station loyalty, even among listeners who were initially neutral about disco. After conducting some audience research, they managed to convince no less than sixty radio stations to "appeal to their base by launching anti-disco campaigns."

Previous post: Disco demolition (2004)

1 comment:

Jeff Hoots said...

As I remember it (full disclosure - I am a Steve Dahl fan, even today), radio stations were quick to change formats to disco, leaving DJs to either play the format or lose their jobs. Some lost their jobs anyway.

That, combined with the unattractiveness of the disco genre (an artificially created music, perhaps, not unlike cheap polyester clothes?) compared to rock-n-roll, created a rebellion among DJs, spreading to their listeners.

That being said, some, including Dahl, thought that the 7/12/79 promotion in Chicago would be a poorly attended failure. Apparently not.

Best regards,
Jeff H.