Friday, January 30, 2004

R.I.P., Ed Sciaky | Ed Sciaky died yesterday, and if your musical coming of age happened in the Philadelphia metro area in the 1970s or '80s, you know what a tough thing that is to hear.

Sciaky was a longtime Philly DJ, but that only tells half the story. First at WMMR and then at WIOQ, he literally helped to define the FM sound by discovering and advocating for new artists whom no other stations were playing. Amidst the noise of overblown junk like ELO and the meaningless, coked-up disco scene, Sciaky was befriending and playing literate, passionate singer-songwriters -- storytellers, really -- such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, and Bonnie Raitt. Those acts are same old-same-old now, but before Sciaky, they were hungry unknowns that deserved a following.

It's easy to ridicule Sciaky's roots and to forget just how significant a role he played in the development of what became an influential and important time in American music. After all, the album-oriented rock movement that he helped to pioneer eventually slipped into the death spiral of today's dreadful classic rock tripe, with reformed stoners playing lots of hoary, anthemic, Skynyrdesque stuff and pledging to fill your Floyd void and get the Led out. After leaving 'IOQ, Sciaky went on to work at WYSP and then, later, WMGK, after 'YSP veered into the even more unfortunate modern rock nonsense that pollutes so many airwaves now. He no longer was breaking new bands, but when you have the Boss and the Piano Man as lines on your resume, there's probably not much more left to do.


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