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Houston ‘historian’ JD Doyle debuts a new Internet radio show
by Rich Arenschieldt • Photo by Mark Hiebert
JD Doyle is experiencing the world’s busiest “retirement.” The DJ is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Queer Music Heritage program and creating a new Internet-based radio show that focuses on spotlighting current LGBT musical artists.
Doyle has a long history in Houston radio. “I was a fan of KPFT’s GLBT radio venue After Hours [hosted by the venerable Jimmy Carper] and was friends with Jimmy. I had been collecting queer music since the mid-’90s and was always asking him to play more of it. Subsequently, Jimmy asked me on the show and I put together some music segments for broadcast. After that, Jack Valinski offered me a spot on his program, Queer Voices. Even though I had never done radio, I started working with him in January of 2000.”
While these segments were very popular, Doyle felt that still more time should be dedicated to LGBT music. His Queer Music Heritage show’s mission is to preserve queer music and explore its origins and history. Its uniqueness, according to Doyle, stems from the fact that “no one else that I know of is doing this type of extensive preservation or documentation.”
A trip through the Queer Music Heritage website confirms this. Exploration yields a treasure trove of recordings celebrating queer life. Stonewall songs, women’s music, and every gay-themed musical—starting with the 1973 production of The Faggott by Al Camines—are there. Extensive notes and commentary on more than 150 musicals abound, making this site encyclopedic in scope.
Not content to cease his musical search, Doyle is now embedded in another aural endeavor. “When I retired, this gave me the time I needed to pursue creating a full-length radio program, Out Radio—a broadcast show dedicated to current queer artists on the landscape today.”
Doyle has a real concern for queer music and its place within the community. “Sometimes we aren’t familiar with our own artists,” he says. As an example, Doyle points to the hunky and talented pop artist Ari Gold. “Here’s an individual who has been out on the music scene for a decade. He’s one of the most successful gay vocalists out there—he has videos on Logo, he’s won several music awards, and, for some reason, many people don’t know who he is.”
In many ways, groups of people are known by the music that they create. For LGBT artists, succeeding in the recording industry is exponentially more challenging. “It’s difficult for any independent talent to get noticed, and even more so for queer artists—especially if they have material that contains overtly gay lyrics or content,” Doyle says. “Many radio programmers are overly cautious—they don’t want to offend listeners. If you are working at a station in Des Moines, it’s probably best to stick to established pop artists.”
Doyle’s new show, Out Radio, is anything but mainstream. Listeners expecting to hear only club musicians popular with gays will be surprised by what’s on this turntable. “The show will be composed of all genres,” Doyle says. “You may hear hip hop, country, jazz, R&B, or dance music—almost anything goes.”
Out Radio is available on an Internet platform only. One of the reasons for this is that Doyle wants the freedom to explore specific musical subjects in depth, something prohibited by the time constraints of broadcast radio. “There are many artists and musical categories that I would like to discuss more completely. I am constantly networking to discover new talent. Sometimes I can spend several hours to cover something I’m interested in.”
Doyle’s first Out Radio show for January 2010 was a self-proclaimed “subjective retrospective” of queer music from 2009. This four-hour show highlighted musicians of all types. Twelve eclectic albums and some individual pieces were showcased.
There were exquisite ballads such as Matt Alber’s “End of the World” from his album Hide Nothing. Also included were Julie Clark’s stylish “Courage of Our Convictions.” Jeff Straker (not to be confused with the ’90s porn icon with a similar name) has an energetic pop
album entitled Step Right Up. Its infectious lyrics and upbeat tunefulness catapulted this disc to the top of the stack. Levi Kreis’s bluesy “Stained Glass Window” echoes the soulful massed-choir sound of earlier eras. David Brown’s “Starbucks Boy” (he is an angel in a green and navy uniform) and other whimsical works, including selections from trans-artist Out Lady J (packin’ a pistol in my pink Prada purse), balanced the more serious pieces.
In a bizarre twist, singer Ray Boltz, who previously sold 4.5 million Christian albums (including such tracks as “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb”), “retired” and then came out in 2008, recording “Don’t Tell Me Who to Love.” All of the performances offered on this inaugural show were superb.
Diana, Donna, Madonna, and Cher have left the building. Out Radio provides volumes of music that speak directly to LGBT listeners. Whether you are seeking the frenetic or the folksy, the mellow or the metal, there’s something here that’s sure to please.
Rich Arenschieldt also writes about Dominic Walsh Dance Theater in this issue of OutSmart magazine.