Radioactive Duo

Classic-rock station 93.7 The Arrow yanks controversial morning DJs Walton and Johnson off the air.

WE WANT THE AIRWAVES!

As of Friday, December 7, longtime Houston morning radio duo Walton and Johnson were no longer airing on 93.7 The Arrow. The Houston-based, regionally syndicated talk show's page on the Arrow's Web site has also been scrubbed.

Additionally, Houston media blogger Mike McGuff reported that Clear Channel Communications, which owns 93.7 and several other Houston stations, including alternative-rocker KTBZ-FM ("94.5 The Buzz"), let a number of employees go that week.

Walton and Johnson are still on in 11 markets across the South.
Walton and Johnson are still on in 11 markets across the South.
Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) is nominated for a Best World Music Album Grammy this year.
Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) is nominated for a Best World Music Album Grammy this year.

Rocks Off reached out to W&J about the reasons for their dismissal from Houston radio by e-mail, and the duo responded with this statement:

"We think we might be left-wing political attack victims... ratings were excellent on the show... income very good... suddenly one month after the election, management removes the show without explanation... we smell powerful Feds... show is still on everywhere else... we have to find somebody in Houston with the grit to put us back on."

When a fan asked about the duo on The Arrow's Facebook page that morning, the reply was, "Walton and Johnson are no longer on The Arrow, we wish them the best and you can find them at www.waltonandjohnson.com. We have the Classic Rock Music Fixx in the mornings. More classic rock, all the time."

To which a few fans understandably vowed to find a new morning radio station.

Though the duo and its cast of voices are no longer on the air in Houston, Walton and Johnson's show is still on morning radio all over the South, 11 markets in six states including Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth. The show also continues streaming online.

Due to Walton and Johnson's conservative tone, they were obviously not everyone in Houston's morning favorites, but they did have a dedicated following. For others, the "racist hillbilly show" needed to be cut long ago.

At one point they were on Houston's 103.7 KIOL, before that station turned into a Jack FM in 2007. Now using the call letters KHJK, that station was bought and reformatted to contemporary Christian rock earlier this year.

Walton and Johnson's departure could be a fresh beginning for the classic-rock station, a format that is getting harder and harder to define as the years pass. We could get into having some more locally sourced morning folks on The Arrow.

"Can we at least have some good songs in the mornings? I don't want to hear the same Rush, Journey and Beatles crap songs over and over," said a discerning classic-rock fan with cultured ears on the Arrow's Facebook page."Put some Van Halen, ZZ Top and Led Zep on the air. Going to miss WJ!!"

Later that evening, the duo talked to the Houston Chronicle's David Barron and announced that they could be back on the air in the Bayou City within 30 days. They were a little more subdued with Barron than when they e-mailed Rocks Off, us being a fun alt-weekly and all.

Walton and Johnson also made a brief statement on their own site, echoing what they told us earlier Friday and urging Houston fans to keep listening through the sites of other stations still carrying the show.
_____________________

The Whole Wide World

RIP RAVI SHANKAR
Sitar master, Beatles buddy and Norah Jones's father was 92.

Craig Hlavaty

One of the greatest musicians of all time has died. Ravi Shankar, sitar legend and easily one of India's most revered cultural ambassadors, passed away the afternoon of December 11 in San Diego at age 92.

According to Zee News, Shankar had been having trouble breathing and had been admitted into a La Jolla hospital, where he died during heart-valve replacement surgery.

He is survived by his wife, Sukanya, and two daughters, sitar player Anoushka Shankar and Dallas-bred singer-songwriter Norah Jones. Yes, that Norah Jones.

In the '60s, Shankar become a star in part for his connections to the Beatles, mainly George Harrison, whom he befriended and attempted to make into a sitar great in his own right. Harrison joked to reporters that he could never match Shankar's skill, though he was proficient enough to record "Norwegian Wood" and, of course, the sitar-heavy "Within You Without You" for the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

The pair remained good friends until Harrison's 2001 death.

After the Beatles' endorsement, Shankar sold plenty of records in the U.S., opening American ears to the strange, sweet sounds of the sitar. You can no doubt find his album The Sounds of India or one of his intricate raga LPs in most baby-boomer record collections.

Never before had Hindustani been made so palatable for Western ears. Shankar was one of the first big world-music success stories, and Harrison deemed him the "godfather of world music."

In 1999, Shankar was awarded ­India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, which is no small feat. Phillip Glass has said he has been highly influenced by Shankar, whose music affected both rockers and classical ­artists.

Not too bad for a guy who didn't really pick up the instrument he would pioneer until he was 18 years of age.

Interestingly enough, Shankar's daughter Anushka is a famous sitar player in her own right, and both Shankars were nominated for Grammys this year in the same category, Best World Music Album. The Grammys are scheduled for February 10.

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