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Lost and Found: Luke Crampton and the Best Music We Have Never Heard

We all have it. I call it my Restless Carpal Radio Syndrome (RCRS) when my hands become stiff from pushing the car stereo buttons in a desperate attempt to find that very station, the one and only that is not always ‘ROLLING IN THE DEEP’, that digital Shangri-la where I may find a hidden musical treasure buried in the rubble of corporate radio mass-programming.

An irreverent Briton named Luke Crampton has brought some respite to this broadcasting malaise.

With his nationally syndicated weekly program called Lost and Found: The Best Music You’ve Never Heard, Crampton entertains, shocks and surprises us with his astounding song selections, his knowledge of popular music, his rebellious wit and wonderful humor. With Lost and Found, we get that bonus experience of tapping into Crampton’s  encyclopedic knowledge of music.

If you ever need better your chance at Trivia, grab one of Crampton’s 40 books on music including ‘Rock and Roll: Year By Year’ (Dorling Kindersley) published in association with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the ‘Music Icons’ biography series for Taschen. You will know the genesis of every thought and sound in some of the tunes that shaped generations.I caught up with Crampton in Atlanta for a quick interview about the state of the music business and his show.

Q: How did you come up with Lost and Found?

LC: Over the years I’ve amassed a ridiculously large archive of A+ recordings which for one reason or another have flown under the radar, great melodic music which has slipped through the cracks. Although I’ve worked in music television for a long time, my first media love has always been radio, so with commercial radio these days being over-populated by narrow, restrictive formats and genres, I thought it would be fun to create a regular show for all the superb musical orphans which have been under-appreciated. Kind of the best of the ones that got away. So early last year I partnered with Cumulus Radio – the country’s second largest radio group – who to be honest should be praised for their courage to air such an unusual and musically free show each weekend.

Q: What is the show’s format?

LC: The general rule on ‘Lost and Found’ is that there are no rules. I like to say that I’ll play any music, any artist, any genre, any era – so long as it’s got a wonderful marriage of timeless melody and intriguing or erudite lyrics. Melody is at the heart of all great evergreen music and my ear seems to be finely attuned to that. So in any given show, I might play some Modern Rock, vintage Soul, sturdy Pop, a bit of Country, certainly some Bluegrass, lots of singer-songwriters both known and unknown, some Americana, bit of World Music Music and Reggae, New Wave, Electronica, just about anything so long at it’s top-notch fare.

Q: What makes your show different?

LC: All of the songs I play should have been – or should be in the case of new releases – hit records. People tend to get very caught up in what’s hip, what’s cool and will play a song for those reasons alone: I won’t. I don’t care if Donny Osmond cuts a song, if it’s great, I’ll play it with no pre-determined musical discrimination. Equally, just because a song has been recorded by Mumford & Sons or Peter Gabriel I won’t play it unless it’s a standout track. The songs I choose are selected purely on merit, and not because of who recorded them.

 Q: What kind of response have you received?

LC: The reaction has been extraordinary – we’re consistently top 5 in the very competitive market in San Francisco on the legendary KFOG station, and ratings everywhere continue to climb. From our Facebook page reaction (www.facebook.com/lostandfoundradio), ‘Lost and Found’ seems to be becoming what they call ‘appointment programming’ – quite a rare thing these days on radio. When people find it, they tend to became instantly loyal and their feedback has been wonderful. It’s growing mostly by word-of-mouth which is always rather rewarding.

Q: what are your thoughts on the state of commercial radio?

LC: As I was saying earlier, commercial radio has found a very successful formula which works extremely well as a business model, but has become overly formatted and repetitive in my opinion – a situation which has effectively squeezed out the intelligent, curious or discerning listener. That’s why I think so many of that upper demo has switched to Pandora or Spotify, though both of those also have major drawbacks – their music recommendations are very random and not professionally curated, so it’s a bit of crap-shoot. HD radio is dead on arrival, satellite radio is extremely formatted by station and costs money so radio is in a bit a creative jam in my opinion. That’s why it’s rather cool of Cumulus – which is sometimes criticized along with Clear Channel and the rest of the big boys – for being too bland, formulaic and robot-like – I think it’s cool and commendable for Cumulus to have stuck their neck out with ‘Lost and Found’ to air a really different and progressive show. I think that radio in general needs a massive shake-up and more thought given to wider formats which simply pledge to play great music, irrespective of genre. I’m looking into launching an entire station with the playlist diversity of ‘Lost and Found’, mixing up both terrific ‘known’ songs with equally splendid ‘unknown’ songs – I’ve even selected the call letters: WIDE.

Crampton’s Lost and Found airs in several cities around the country every Sunday. For more information go to www.lostandfoundradio.com.

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