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Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8 
Written by: on December 27th, 2005

Theatrical Release Date: Canada, April 7th, 2004
Director: Michael McNamara
Writer: Michael McNamara

DVD Released: December, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 72 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Markham Street Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $27.99

In the late-1960’s CKLW “The Big 8” would become the most influential radio station in North America. They would make changes to their format that would forever altar the way radio would be heard and their aggressive programmer style would spawn countless imitators worldwide. Radio Revolution: The Rise and fall of the Big 8 examines CKLW “The Big 8” rise to the top of the pack and how constant government interference would ultimately bring out the demise of CKLW “The Big 8”.

This documentary is told through the recollections of those who worked at CKLW “The Big 8” in candid and often humorous interviews. This DVD also features music and stories from Bob Seger, Steppenwolf, The Who, Alice Cooper, Kiss, The Guess Who, Tony Orlando, Elton John, Wayne Kramer (MC5), Marvin Gaye, The Ohio Players, The Parliaments, Funkadelic and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas.

It might be hard for some to fathom just home much power the radio industry once had in this day and age of the internet when music can be downloaded with in a few minutes or less. Before there was MTV or internet a recording artist’s latest album could rise to the top of the charts or fall like a brick depending on the amount of play it received on the radio. The power that the radio industry once wielded now lays in the hands of people as the internet gives everyone the chance to be the critic and if enough people are for or against a product it fate is almost certainly sealed.

The interviews with the various CKLW “The Big 8” members are what really sells this film and it is only fitting since it was their personalities which help skyrocket this radio station to the top the mountain. Director Michael McNamara is obviously a fan of this era of music and he keeps things evenly balanced as he tackles his subject with enthusiasm that at times is infectious. The music is a nice blend of just how diverse music once was before record labels and station started labeling music into genres.

The DVD:

Radio Revolution: The Rise and fall of the Big 8 is presented in a full frame aspect ratio that preserves the films original aspect ratio. The newly shots interviews look sharp and are nearly flawless. The quality of the archival music performances and interviews varies, still they are all more then watch able. Overall Markham Street Films has done a solid job transferring this documentary for this DVD release.

This release comes with only one audio option English and it is in Dolby Digital stereo. The audio is crisp as it sounds evenly mixed with no problems with hiss or distortion. Close caption subtitles for the hearing impaired have been included.

Extras for this release include eight bonus segments of footage that wasn’t used in the final documentary. This extra footage is about forty five minutes of interviews that nicely complement the main feature. Other extras include a text piece about Markham Street Films that comes with preview clips for “Meet the Sumdees”, “Shrines and Homemade Holy Places” and “The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati”. Rounding out the extras is a photo gallery which can be played with music and sound clips from CKLW “The Big 8” or you can view the images with no sound. There are three separate photo galleries which each contain about 50 to 60 still photos.

This DVD comes with interactive menu’s that look like a radio and when an option is selected the radio dial moves. Also included with this release is a DVD insert that includes chapters list, liner notes about CKLW “The Big 8” and it can also be unfolded into a poster which is an exact replica of the DVD’s cover art.

Overall Radio Revolution: The Rise and fall of the Big 8 is fast moving documentary that is always interesting as it moves from one subject to the next. It is a nostalgic look at a time when artists and their music felt less contrived and from the heart.

Note: Currently there is only one way to order Radio Revolution: The Rise and fall of the Big 8 and it can be purchased here.

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