radio has arrived.
All Detroit. All the time!

Tommy Onyx migrated to Detroit from Boston in the late 80s, and has been a proud member of the city's music scene ever since. He's worked with some of the the area's most talented and successful music artists, been involved in the production of some big records and been tossed a couple of kewl awards along the way. He's also had the chance to tour with several acts, bringing Detroit music to countries around the world. For more info about the gnarly gnu program director of radio, check out his bio in the artist section of

Greetings friends, I'm Tommy Onyx, and in the months to come I'll be your humble music host and program director for radio.

When I set out ot gather content for radio, I knew it would be an interesting endeavor... but I must tell you, it has been fascinating beyond all expectation. The sheer number of mammoth recording artists to emerge from Detroit over the past 40 years is nothing short of remarkable, especially when you consider that Detroit has rarely been considered a "destination city"for aspiring musicians in the same way that New York, London, Nashville or Los Angeles have. It really is amazing that a metro area of just 5 million people has produced such a high volume of musical hyper achievers.

Let me take a moment to explain my method for developing the playlist, as well as any liberties I may have taken or will take with regards to the programming.

First, each station's theme is meant to serve as a flexible guide and not as a strict constitution. Some of the material appearing on one station could just as appropriately appear on another. This is, of course, a testament to the genre melting alchemy that (rock/rap/hiphop/country/?) Detroit artists like Kid Rock pull off with such craft and skill.

Second, we define 'Detroit' as being the Detroit metropolitan area, or essentially Southeastern Michigan. There are certainly instances on this site and elsewhere where the distinction between Detroit and the Burbs, 7 mile and 9 mile is relevant - however, I believe that in the case of radio it is not. Popular art and music are global commodities and issues like East Side, West Side, 810 and 313 mean little to folks outside of Michigan.

If Kid Rock is from Mt. Clemens, to the kid in Texas he's from Detroit (regardless of how many times Bob shouts out "Mt. Clemens is pimpin'" on his records).

If George Clinton was born in North Carolina, that's information that is interesting only to his relatives at this point. To the rest of the world the Mothership docks in Detroit.

Marvin Gaye
may have been born in Washington DC, but ever since Barry Gordy made him a prince of Motown I doubt many folks either know that fact.....or care.

Conversely, Madonna may have moved to NYC to break her glass, but I've yet to see a biographical expose on her that didn't include her cheerleading picture from Adams High School in Rochester. So despite Mrs. Guy Ritchie's best attempts at adopting an English accent , the press is unanimous in its perception of her as a Detroit artist.

Most Cities around the world would be honored and fortunate to be able to lay claim to even a single major musical or cultural movement or a single legendary artist. Seattle had the Grunge Scene. Manchester can take credit for Rave Culture. Liverpool gave birth to The Beatles. San Francisco was the origin of Psychedelic Rock.

But Detroit? It's difficult to know where to begin.


Here are three major genres that would simply not exist in the musical nomenclature of our culture were it not for Detroit.

Historically Detroit has also been a major player in the American Jazz and Be Bop Scene, with landmarks like Baker's Keyboard Lounge. (America's oldest, hosting jazz legends for more than 60 years!)

And the definition of 'classic rock' would hardly be complete without Michigan's Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper and Bob Seger. How many other towns have the suffix "rock city" added to their names as often as Detroit?
Miami Rock City!
I don't think so.

And how about individual icons?

Iggy Pop - Granddaddy of Punk
The Jackson 5 - Motown Record's quintessential 'boy band' who gave birth to the King of Pop
Eminem - Hip Hop's Elvis
Diana Ross - Diva Defined
Aretha Franklin - The Queen of Soul
Marvin Gaye - The Prince of Soul
Madonna - 2nd biggest selling female artist of all time (behind only Streisand)
George Clinton - funk's most defining character
Kevin Saunderson, Derrik May and Juan Atkins - architects of techno music

And while each and every Detroit artist to achieve fame and fortune might not qualify as a legend, the list of classy artists with classic songs to emerge from this town is seemingly endless.
The Romantics' "What I Like About You" - still one of the most recurrent 80s songs on classic rock stations everywhere.
Brownsville Station - Found fame by simply "Smokin' in the Boys Room"
Anita Baker's "Sweet Love" courtesy of her sweet R&B stylings
Grand Funk Railroad "THE American Band" from Flint, Michigan
Suzi Quatro - "Rock's First Lady" and the world's original recipe for both "leather clad rock vixen" and "riotgrrrl"...born in Grosse Pointe, Mi.
The Insane Clown Posse - "America's Most Hated Band" with some of America's most dedicated fans and self made platinum multi-bazillionaires to boot. (read's interview with longtime ICP producer Mike E. Clark)
Mitch Ryder - drove his Detroit Wheels up the top forty charts 5 times
Doug Fieger - (Yes, the younger brother of wannabe governer, attorney Geoffrey Fieger) - led the Detroit band Sky, before heading off to LA to start the Knack and record a little record called "My Sharona."

More recently artists like Aaliyah, The New Radicals, Robert Bradley, Slum Village, Sponge and Uncle Kracker have carried the torch and made sure that Detroit continues to get proper representation on pop, rock and R&B radios around the nation.

And don't think that the Motor City's musical glory days are all behind us. Bands like "The White Stripes," "Adult," "Electric Six" and "The Paybacks" are proving once again that Detroiters are an artistically restless lot and are most comfortable living dangerously close to the bleeding edge.

So are there things about our beloved Midwest Gotham that suck with a capital S?
Oh god yes. But friends, let us at least agree....that music is definitely NOT one of them.

Now some of you may be wondering if our radio is a complete and definitive accounting of our fair City's musical history.
.....well, ok. It's obviously not.

But we do hope that the more than 70 songs included in the debut playlist is at least a respectable start.
There are presently obvious omissions such as the complete categories of Jazz and Classical, two genres that have played a vital roll in the City's history. You can expect to see these categories get some representation in the next few months. Also, don't forget that IS a website, which is to say that we're most vibrant and compelling when we're most dynamic and interactive. So don't hesitate to shout out to us with your comments, criticisms and suggestions. Post them on the letters to the editor page or email me directly.

If you feel as though there's a song or artist that's not getting the love they deserve on radio - tell us. If we've butchered the spelling of an artist's name, please tell us. If you're a local singer or band and you're certain that your record would sound absolutely magnificent sandwiched between Alice Cooper and Inner City, by all means, drop us a line. Conversely, if we have included a song by your group on one of our stations, and you would like us to remove it - for whatever reason - please contact us. We will delete it promptly.

The current stations are as follows:
1) Motown Memories - Everything from Barry Gordy's Motown Record label, to material from former Motown artists later in their careers, to other Detroit soul singers of the era.
2) Hip Pop & Phunk - Rap, R&B, funk, hip hop and pop all live here, in perfect harmony.
3) D- Rox - Classic rock, new rock, alt. rock - guitars for the whole family
4) Techtronica - Techno, House, Electronica, press play and dance
5) Radio Free Detroit - "The everything bagel" of radio. Radio Free Detroit plays plays music from the playlists of ALL the other stations. This one takes guts to listen to.
6) Virgin Radio - Richard Branson eat your heart out. We're talkin' 'bout all Madonna, all the time.
7) ? - TBA - room to grow!

Why an all Madonna station?
You could argue that there are other Detroit legends just as worthy (or more so) of having their own station.
I suggest that artists like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross or Marvin Gaye could certainly qualify as fair choices.
Then again, why not Kid Rock?
He's an artist with a career spanning more than 10 years and sales of more than 10 million records.
How about Eminem?; Marshall Mathers is only the biggest international hip hop star the world has ever seen? Generation Y's Elvis?
The mojo debate could really go on and on....

But at the end of the day, we selected Madonna because the truth is, love her or not, she IS the single biggest international music star to emerge from our corner of the globe to date. Period.
Plus the young people really do seem to dig her.
But, hey, don't take my word for it.

The following was taken from the RIAA web site.

Sales Chart was created on 11/01/2002
Artist Certified Units (in Millions)

1- BEATLES, THE 164.50
2- LED ZEPPELIN 105.00
3- BROOKS, GARTH 105.00
4- PRESLEY, ELVIS 102.00
5 - EAGLES 86.00 (whoo hooo...Glen Fry is from Royal Oak!)
6 - JOEL, BILLY 77.00
7- PINK FLOYD 73.50
9- JOHN, ELTON 64.50
10- AEROSMITH 63.50
11- AC/DC 63.00
13- MADONNA 59.00
16- CAREY, MARIAH 53.00
18- ROGERS, KENNY 50.50
19- STRAIT, GEORGE 50.50
20- VAN HALEN 50.50

Lastly it may be worth noting to those of you just joining us from the outer planets of the Solar System, some of the ol' rap music is often "alive" with the four letter words. Know what I'm sayin' ho? So keep that in mind should you decide to blast the "Hip Pop and Phunk" station in your office or on the church bus. Iggy Pop, Kid Rock and the MC5 also appear to enjoy the F word too, so the rock station might not be most appropriate to bump around the day care center....but then again my baby girl seems to really like The Stooges and those "Lust for Life" drums...hey hey, that's my girl!.

Until next time, keep yourselves hydrated on the Detroit City Water, (It can't hurt right?) and spread love.
Thanks for reading, AND thanks for listening!
- T. Onyx

all detroit muscians mentioned in Tommy's essay may be heard on radio.


Technical info:
As you can see we've chosen the familiar look of an old DELCO car radio.
Our virtual radio operates in much the same way. Each push button selects a different station. The left and right knobs control power and volume respectively. Additionally, once the radio is playing, the left knob will function as a track skip control. The radio will 'stream' the songs to your computer. What this means is that you will not have to wait for the entire song to download to your computer before it begins playback. Generally the songs will begin to play after approximately 40% of the material has 'buffered,' or reached your computer. Those of you accessing us over a cable modem or DSL line will find playback to be practically instantaneous. If you are visiting us via a dial up connection the songs may take a minute or so before they being playing. The good news is that most computers will 'cache' the song into a special folder on your computer so that the next time you access that particular song from our radio, playback should begin immediately.
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