Hill: Tune in, chill out — mood ring optional - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Hill: Tune in, chill out — mood ring optional

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Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 8:26 pm | Updated: 12:11 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A funny thing happened to me on the way down the FM radio dial ...

It was Memorial Day Weekend. I happened to flip past "oldies" station KOOL (94.5 FM), and it seemed like I was hearing all '70s music (songs from my childhood, of course) being broadcast from some sort of pool party event.

"The '70s Saturday Night Splashdown" is what they were calling the show. "We've commandeered a pool at an undisclosed location in a self-important gated community on the south side of Camelback Mountain," the recorded promo voice said as I listened the following weekend. "(A)nd we're playing the greatest hits of the '70s, poolside ..."

And, yes, it sounded like a party.

The host provided on-air "shout outs" ("here's one for so-and-so in Scottsdale" and "thanks to the gang at the Mesa Police Department for listening at work"). And while he never said where the "KOOL pool" was, the background sounds of people chattering and cheering, glasses clanking and pool splashes all gave the impression that a party was happening.

So I called the host at KOOL's business office the next Monday.

Greg "Third Degree" Burns has worked at Valley radio stations for nearly 20 years. Along with KOOL, his creative genius is behind KMLE (107.9 FM), and dance music outlet KZON (101.5 FM) (all three of the stations are co-owned by the CBS Radio Corporation). "The '70s Saturday Night Splashdown" was not only his brainchild, he also programs, produces, and markets the show.

But where's the pool?

"I can't tell you that," he initially said on the telephone.

Now understand this: CBS Radio is a publicly traded corporation. KOOL's programming streams worldwide on the Internet, and is broadcast on one of the most powerful FM radio signals in the U.S. On average, the station generates about $20 million in advertising revenue each year.

And this federally licensed, corporate-owned, lucrative radio broadcasting outlet is handing over the reigns every Saturday night to a guy who supposedly does a show from beside a swimming pool. Somewhere. Supposedly.

Burns eventually gave me an address to report to last Saturday night, and I showed up. Yes, he broadcasts from beside a pool. And yes, there is most certainly a pool party going on.

"Nobody knows '70s music better than me," Burns told me with a grin (I used to say that about myself until KFYI talk show host J.D. Hayworth conquered me during an impromptu trivia contest - it'd be fun to hear Hayworth and Burns match wits on this stuff sometime). "But most importantly, we're having lots of fun, the show is making lots of money, and both the station and our advertisers are getting enormous response," Burns said.

The show secured a summer-long endorsement from a new, ready-to-serve margarita beverage being introduced in the Phoenix market, and Burns and his colleagues also landed several sponsorships from - you guessed it - pool contractors. In fact, "The '70s Saturday Night Splashdown" show has already helped sell a few new pool construction jobs.

So why not go public with the show's location? "For now, there's a mystique surrounding the 'undisclosed location' approach," Burns said. "But our original plan was to give away a party and a broadcast, and we're definitely staying with that plan." You can register at KOOLRadio.com for a chance to have Burns perform the show beside the pool in your backyard. Or wherever.

So tune in and log on, Saturday nights from 7 p.m. until midnight. It's one of the most creative radio shows to hit weekend airwaves in a long time. Even if it's still 102 degrees on a Saturday night, it always feels great inside the KOOL pool.

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