Music

It’s Only Rock and Roll: An interview with Don DiMuccio, host of the podcast about the genre that changed music forever

As soon as I heard about the podcast “It’s Only Rock and Roll,” I knew there would be some great stories hiding just under the sound waves behind the scenes waiting for me to discover. I reached out to the host of the show, Don DiMuccio, to talk about what he’s learned on the show, and from working in the music industry. 

Angelina Singer (Motif): How did you start podcasting and what or who inspired you to go for it? 

Don DiMuccio: A short time before this past New Year’s, the legendary broadcaster Don Imus passed away. I had been a fan of his show for decades and the thing I liked about him (besides his brutal honesty and no-nonsense approach) was that he would share some new song or artist that he heard with the listeners. Or he’d bring on an author who wrote a book that interested him, and again would share it with his audience, and pass on his passion for it. And I suddenly realized, that style of terrestrial radio, where you can make a direct connection with your listeners, is a thing of the past for the most part. But it’s still alive online in podcasting. 

I knew I wanted to be a part of it – the thing is I’m not a public speaker. But I do have a deep reverence (some say obsession) for all things rock & roll. So I figured as long as I did a show about what I love, I’ll learn the technical stuff as I go and hopefully get more comfortable talking off the cuff with each ensuing episode. So far so good, but I’ll leave that for others to determine. 

AS: Did you have previous professional experience in a similar field that led you to this? 

DD: Straight out of high school graduation, in 1989 I formed the blues/roots-rock band Black & White (BlackAndWhiteBand.com) for which I’m still the drummer and handle all of the business, promotion and bookings. So doing that taught me more about life than any college could have. In the middle of that, I tried my hand at another “music-related dream job,” writing a CD-review column for Motif on and off for a decade (motifri.com/author/dondimuccio). And it was those two experiences (along with a short 3-day stint at a Westerly AM radio station in the mid 1990s) that made me want to bring what I’ve learned into broadcasting. 

AS: What are some struggles you’ve had or issues you’ve run into in the process of building your audience following? 

DD: Obviously getting the word out is the hardest part of having a successful podcast in this age where the Internet is glutted with everything from singing cats to people dancing to Beyoncé in their bedroom. I’ve been relying heavily on social media to promote the show, and target fan club pages related to a specific artist or topic that I’m covering on a given episode. 

AS: Who is the coolest or most famous guest you’ve had on the show? 

DD: Before I answer, let me briefly go over the format of the “It’s Only Rock And Roll Podcast.” Each episode generally contains a celebrity interview of someone in the rock industry (musician, producer, photographer, etc). And to always keep my roots close at hand, I use a different local/regional musician, club-owner, disc jockey, etc. as my co-host, who like myself has worked in the circuit. 

That said, I’m still basking in the glow of having had the legendary Linda Ronstadt on the show a few weeks back. She has always been in my personal Top 5 female rock & roll singers, along with Janis Joplin, Chrissie Hynde, Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks. I couldn’t believe how accommodating, friendly and downright sweet she was. Here’s one of the biggest names in music history taking the time to speak with me? And she was so generous with her time. It’s always great when you meet your heroes and they surpass your expectations (I’ve had the opposite experience over the years and it’s no fun). 

AS: Tell me the most hilariously weird and random conversation or thing that happened during your podcast. 

DD: OK, here’s the thing – I want the show to sound as professional as possible. I’ve heard some podcasts recorded on someone’s cell phone, which can be irritatingly hard to listen to. So the hardest part so far has been getting participants to log in remotely using the particular setup I found sounds the best. Sometimes the artists are comfortable with using a computer beyond the basics. So I try my best to simplify the process (which basically consists of them clicking a provided link on a computer that has some form of microphone capabilities, and voila  – we’re connected!) 

That said, back to Linda Ronstadt — the week we scheduled her interview her Wi-Fi was on the fritz and she was expecting a tech to come out in a few days. She offered to postpone, but we soldiered on. Her connection held up for 90% of it, but one entire segment had to be scrapped due to audio dropouts (and it was an interesting topic, too – ain’t that always the way). 

Other than those technical issues, I had a remote co-host from Sarasota, Florida, and we got interrupted by a previously unscheduled tropical storm/hurricane out there that kept knocking out his power. That was fun.

AS: What are your personal favorite bands or artists? 

DD: At the tender age of 8, I “discovered” The Beatles in 1979 and it affected my life almost immediately. Simultaneously I took up the drums and I knew then (and told everyone who would listen) that I’d be in music one way or another. And that grew when I started seeing concerts – my first being in May 1980 sitting front row center at the Ocean State Theater (known today as PPAC) to see Bob Dylan during his Born-Again Christian phase. And I could list so many more, but it’s easier to put it this way: I love the entire rock era, from 1948-1998 (things went a little off the rails after the millennium, in my humble opinion). I’ve seen everyone from Neil Diamond and Simon & Garfunkel, to Ozzy and Anthrax. And I have a deep respect for all of it.

AS: Do you have any advice for someone looking to break into the podcasting world? 

DD: Since I’ve only been doing it for like 16 minutes, I don’t think I’m in a position to give sagely advice to anyone looking to podcast. That said, if you wanna know what I did – first listen to as many shows as you can. I’ve been a fan of radio since I was 8, so I know what types of shows appealed to me when I was growing up. Older readers might remember syndicated radio programs like “Reeling In The Years,” “Flashback,” “Rockline,” “King Biscuit Flower Hour,” “ In the Studio with Red Beard” — all of which inspired me. 

Here’s what not to do – don’t get hung up on the technology and the equipment. It’s tempting to think “an expensive microphone equals a better sound,” but that’s not necessarily the case. Do the research, find the equipment that works for you within your budget, and spend the extra money on promotion. 

Huge thanks to Don for answering my questions, and for this cool inside look at what makes a podcast tick! If you want to take a listen to “It’s Only Rock and Roll”, you can find it on Facebook here: facebook.com/ItsOnlyRockAndRollPodcast

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