Ed Lopez-Reyes for Brain Damage
Floydian Slip reached its 30th year on the air this past January. Host Craig Bailey sat down for a celebration, a toast, and a few questions...
Brain Damage: Craig: 30 years... what keeps you going?
Craig Bailey: At this point, working on the show is such a routine part of my daily life I couldn't imagine not doing it. While producing each week's show only takes a couple hours, I spend time every day marketing the show — trying to grow the network, renewing affiliate contracts, helping stations with technical stuff.
And, believe it or not, I still really enjoy doing it.
BD: How many stations are you on now?
CB: Today it's 103. That gets a little squirrelly when you try to suss out exactly what constitutes a "station." Many stations broadcast on multiple frequencies in multiple locations. Do you call those one station? Or more than one station? For the most part, 103 is a conservative number.
BD: Which came first for you: acting or radio and are you still doing any acting?
CB: I started acting in a 5th grade school play, so acting beat radio by about eight years.
A lot of the quality time I spent in high school involved drama, and I did a good amount of community theatre after college. Over the last several years most of my acting's been in local TV commercials and only rarely. I played a bit part in a feature film shot in Los Angeles a few years ago. Nice bucket-list item there.
But I've just recently started to think about getting more involved. I played a part in a community theatre production in March and think I might like to do more.
BD: You're originally from Vermont and returned to live in Vermont after college in New York, where you had started hosting Floydian Slip: did the acting bug or your enthusiasm for music ever make you curious about living in LA or NYC or did you always know you'd want to return to Vermont?
CB: If you'd asked me in 8th grade, I might have told you I'd like to become a professional actor. But by the time I started applying to colleges, I'd come to my senses and realized even if I had the chops — if! — the reality of trying be a working actor — constantly looking for work, not knowing what next week's paycheck might be, etc. — wouldn't jibe with my personality.
And, like you point out, being serious about it would probably mean a move to L.A. or New York, and I'm not a big city guy.
By the time I was in college I thought I wanted to work in radio, but I was never married to moving back to Vermont. After graduation, I applied to radio jobs all over the Northeast. I ended up getting hired by a station in Vermont almost by coincidence.
BD: Would a band like Pink Floyd thrive today? How do you view the music industry today?
CB: I've never been any kind of insider to the music industry. Or any industry, really. But I've heard enough about it to believe it's probably the pits. For artists, anyway.
Like any part of showbiz, the powers-that-be get rich on the backs of the artists. And for every artist who might enjoy some fame — questionable whether that's even very enjoyable after it reaches a certain level — there are a million who struggle in obscurity.
But I think with the rise of the Internet, things have shifted. There are so many opportunities for artists to do their own thing without necessarily playing by the old rules.
Would Floyd thrive today? I'd like to think so. I imagine the ambition and hard work the guys showed in the '60s and '70s would translate today. They just might have gone about things differently.
BD: Are there too many Pink Floyd tribute bands?
CB: No, I think it's a testament to the music that there are so many bands interested in digging into the band's history — and so many people interested in getting out to see and hear them do it.
BD: When you look at musicians like Jon Carin and Guy Pratt, (contractual issues aside), do you think they are unfairly perceived as 'not' members of Pink Floyd? Carin has played with both Gilmour and Waters and Waters had requested Pratt play bass at Live 8 in 2005 (another engagement precluded that)... if Pink Floyd were to reunite, do you feel it could do so without the late Richard Wright and do you feel Carin and Pratt would help flesh out a reunion that would capture the magic?
CB: I think most fans consider "Pink Floyd" to be some combination of Syd, Roger, Rick, Nick and David. And I think that's fair. People like Jon and Guy certainly have a place in Floyd lore — a big place, even — but I imagine they understand most fans will never consider them genuine "members" of Pink Floyd.
I think Roger, David and Nick playing on stage together would be magic all on its own. But, no matter who else you bring on stage to join them, it wouldn't really be Floyd.
David, I know, has said he won't play "Echoes" in concert anymore, because he feels so much of that piece is the interplay between him and Rick. And without Rick ...
BD: How do you feel efforts like Floydian Slip impact Pink Floyd as a commercial and artistic entity?
CB: Well, Floyd certainly doesn't need me or any other radio show to validate their place in the world — commercially or artistically!
But I like to think that at least a few of those copies of "Dark Side" passing over the checkout scanner were helped along by my efforts over the last 30 years. (More likely copies of "Obscured by Clouds" or some-such: "Dark Side" doesn't need my help.)
BD: How do you feel efforts like Floydian Slip impact Pink Floyd fans?
CB: Probably more-so. It's hard to judge listenership numbers or the effect of my show on listeners. But feedback I get indicates there are many people who get much more interested in the band as a result of listening to the show.
BD: Should there be a Pink Floyd biopic? It seems vogue not just to have one but... to make your own?
CB: It'd be huge. Huge! I also imagine it'd be very difficult — especially if all parties needed to lend their approval.
VH-1 got in touch years ago to feel me out for what I thought about that. They had — maybe still have — a division that develops feature film projects. They were considering it, but it never happened.
But with the Queen film having such great success, maybe the likelihood of someone taking it on is a little higher now.
BD: Who would you want to play, if given the choice to be in the Pink Floyd biopic?
CB: Naturally I'd love to be a part of it, but I'd also have to be realistic. I'm over 50 now — and an American — so I think my opportunities would be limited! I'd love a cameo. Some American. Maybe a Capitol Records higher-up getting dumped by Steve O'Rourke when he moves the band to Columbia Records.
BD: Craig, over the years, how has your perspective on and impression of the band and its members changed?
CB: In the same way my impression of any highly visible and accomplished person has changed: Some people — by some unknowable combination of talent, hard work, luck and timing — rise to incredible heights giving them the air of something wholly different and removed from the rest of us.
But the truth is, they're not. And if any of them were honest, they'd probably admit they don't know how the hell they got where they got or why.
Have you seen photos of David in his off-hours? Walking around his property with his German Shepherd, wearing a big hat and skipping stones? I half-made-up that, but you've seen photos and video clips, I'm sure: He's just an ordinary guy ... who plays a mean guitar.
BD: When you interviewed Nick Mason last year, is there something you wish you had asked him at the time but you didn't get to?
CB: I often shy away from asking intriguing questions for fear of offending.
I wanted to ask him if people tried to talk him out of "Saucerful of Secrets." On the face of it, it sounds like a terrible idea: The drummer — drummer! — of a classic rock band forms his own group to play the early music of the classic rock band. It's a recipe for disaster. But, in this case, it turned out brilliantly.
I also wish I'd asked him whether he ran this idea by Roger and David, and, if so, how those exchanges went. To be a fly on the wall. That question simply didn't occur to me.
BD: Which Pink Floyd album have your views evolved on most and why and how?
CB: Probably "Dark Side." I liked it immediately when I first heard it. But it's only been after I've read and learned so much more about its making and evolution — and after I've learned more about the process of sound recording — that I've come to realize what an achievement it really is.
BD: Have you ever considered offering your show on demand through a subscription?
CB: I get people asking for that kind of thing all the time. Or podcasts.
But an on-demand service would be a whole different ballgame. Publishing fees would become my responsibly, for one thing, and that'd likely be prohibitive. Currently, I don't air my show. My affiliate stations do, so they're responsible for paying BMI/ASCAP for the rights to do so.
And my own subscription service would cannibalize my affiliate stations. So I think it'd need to be one or the other: Building and maintaining the Random Precision Radio Network; or offering a stand-alone subscription service.
The truth is, I don't know how a subscription arrangement would work. But I imagine I'll continue to produce the show for some time, so I'd never rule out switching up things sometime in the future.
An ideal situation, I think, would be to offer a new show across my over-the-air network each week. And then cross-promote an online subscription service that allowed users to hear archived shows on-demand. Unfortunately, I don't have all 1,203 shows archived. I only started saving shows for my own files when I began syndicating in '09.
BD: Have you ever considered including bootleg recordings on your show and why or why not?
CB: I try to keep away from bootlegs for a couple reasons: Most sound terrible; and the legality of airing them is a gray era, as best I can tell. But sometimes it's tempting.
BD: What are your goals for Floydian Slip? Could you see someone else hosting it if you ever decided to take a break from the airwaves?
CB: I don't have an end-game, and haven't thought too much about how I might bring it to an end if I wanted to. I've always felt I'll continue to do this as long as I enjoy doing it, and there are stations willing to air it.
But if and when I do decide to step back, seems to me there's been too much work put into this whole thing over the last 30 years just to let it die. I imagine I'd try to find someone to keep it going.
Maybe I'd give away golden tickets and pick a young broadcaster with a pure heart.
BD: You recently attended a Saucerful of Secrets' show in Montreal. Thoughts?
CB: So exciting. I've spent a lot of time sitting in theaters listing to Floyd: The actual band, members of the band, and tribute acts. The great thing about Nick's band is hearing all of the obscure pieces. And the guys really seem to be having fun. That make a big difference, too.
BD: How close to the Canadian border do you live, Craig, and what is Burlington like?
CB: I live just outside Burlington, which is an easy two-hour drive to Montreal. Burlington's a progressive college town on Lake Champlain. Bernie Sanders got his political start here as mayor in the '80s. I really like it. It's big enough to have some things going on, but not so big that we have a lot of big city problems.
BD: Do people recognize you on the street there?
CB: Very rarely and almost never by sight. If I need to give my name for some reason, I'll occasionally get found out.
BD: Even though you run one of the most widely recognized Pink Floyd radio shows, you tend to keep to yourself: do you consider yourself an introvert despite your radio personality and acting experience?
CB: Absolutely. In my experience, introverts are just as common in fields and activities where you'd think they wouldn't be found as where you would. In some cases, I imagine it's the nature of fields like performing and broadcasting that actually attracts introverts: It gives us justification to be seen and heard in a controlled environment.
The truth is, hosting a radio show is an exceptionally private and solitary activity. Ironic. Sometimes I have to remind myself I'm doing it for anyone but myself.
BD: I first met you at the Princeton Pink Floyd conference a few years ago: what did you think about the conference and do you find it regretful there hasn't been another?
CB: I really enjoyed it, though I admit some of it was above my head. It was really an academic event for music major sorts. I'd love to see it done again, but imagine it's unlikely.
More likely there could be some fan convention-type of things. Why don't we see those?
BD: Craig, were you the Publius Enigma all along?
CB: If I was, I certainly wouldn't say. And if I wasn't, I also certainly wouldn't say.
To find a Floydian Slip broadcast, visit FloydianSlip.com.