NACCchart sits down with Kari Gaffney for an interview

Tell us a bit about the career path that led to where you are now.

My career path was a natural extension from being a musician and coming from a family deeply involved in the industry from a production standpoint in TV and radio. The earliest influence was my grandmother, who was a radio personality at CBC during the war (CBC Year Book 1946 Kathleen Alexander), and co-stared with such luminary actors as Lorne Green (Bonanza, Battlestar Galactica and Galactica 1980), Lloyd Bachner (Dynasty, Batman – whom she almost married) and more. Later she and my father moved to Los Angeles, where she took up acting in films as one of the many tap dancers in chorus’. I have to say for all of us (I have many in my family involved in the entertainment industry) she was the matriarch that instilled the arts as a passion, whether we pursued it as a living or not.

I began Kari-On Productions as a company to help my fellow musician friends and family members with publishing rights, it grew into a record label, then distribution. In fact, my first and second album became one of the very few independently nationally distributed artists in the nation with, the now defunct, Borders, Books and Music. Also, I had the great pleasure of touring with my husband, who is also a musician, and raising a son (now a 27-year-old) on the road. We loved the adventure, but longed to be home more often, and when our son was ready for High School, we decided to get off the road and develop a music career that allowed us to stay home.

 

Why does college/community radio matter in today’s fragmented environment?

The service created by college and community radio programming is a glue to any local market and at times with HD or streaming, the opportunity for a listener to connect with their hometown, anytime and anywhere. Additionally, the opportunity to still hear deeply independent programming curated by a personality that has worked hard to create an audience and rapport with that audience, is the exact same ingredient of why live music still is king. Streaming music does not offer that same curation that a hosted DJ programming does. It’s the human factor that makes college and community radio so unique, and its ability to present music that has never or seldom been heard. Just like musicians work hard to create a following, so do DJs and radio stations. In the ever-growing landscape of music, college and community radio is one platform, I hope never goes away. Its independence of programming is so important for future generations of musicians and listeners alike.

 

What is your favorite experience you’ve had in your career? Perhaps a musical idol you got to meet? A festival you were able to attend? A project you were involved with promoting?

Growing up in the Los Angeles music scene in the 70s and 80s, when luminary venues were afoot, I had many family friends involved from a production, writing, technical, tv or other. The music industry has brought many experiences for me; that are quite rewarding. I was on the soundstage for Madonna’s “Like a Virgin Tour,” I was backstage at Prince’s “Purple Rain” tour and went to the after party, with artists such as David Lee Roth and beyond attending. I have been to backstage concerts at the Forum in Inglewood, CA., and went to school with members of Mötley Crüe (Neil & Lee) at Charter Oak High School in Covina CA. I have been to private parties with the who’s who of Hollywood. In fact, until I was 18 years old I had never experienced a concert as an audience member, as I was only allowed to go to these events chaperoned by family friends who were in the industry.

 

As a musician, I opened for countless major artists in many genres. As a promoter, I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with many artists in my genre that are truthfully all quite unique, creative, and groundbreaking. I think the most “A-ha” moment for me was when I opened years ago for David Gates of Bread. As I was sitting backstage, it was profound how many songs of my youth he had penned. I found myself remembering almost every tune as a soundtrack at some moment in my life growing up. Though my music palette is vast, and I have met heroes from my youth in Punk, Jazz, Metal, Rock, Country, R&B and Adult Contemporary genres, it was the inner acknowledgement of songwriting, a personal passion for me as I too still write tune for others, that was a legacy that would last well beyond my time on earth. Not being a particularly steadfast fan of Bread, it was profound to me how many tunes I actually knew and loved. Though my life has been filled with many great experiences it was the recognition of the osmosis moment that left a lasting impression for me.

 

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