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Beloved DJ Art Martel is saying farewell to KSPC and the Same Old Blues after 22 on the air. We interviewed him about his experiences at the station. Be sure to tune into his last show on Saturday August 27th from 11am-1pm!


When did you first start doing a show at KSPC? How did you find out about KSPC and what inspired you be a DJ there?

Funny story, I did not pursue being a dee-jay at KSPC, but was invited into the studio from a blues dee-jay that was on the air. His broadcast name was Left Coast Carl. I met him at a now defunked festival called Big Time Blues Festival. I had been living in Pomona for 5 years. I had also known of another radio show that aired on Sunday afternoons back then that played blues, so I knew of the station from that show. When Carl told me he was doing Breakfast With The Blues Show he asked if I had heard of it I said yes, but I really had never heard it till the following weekend, and it turned out to be a great show. So at the festival we get to talking and he ask’s me when is your birthday. I tell him in October, he asks me for the date then Carl goes on to say I would like you to be a special guest on my show for your birthday. Two months later I get a call from Carl and he asked, “Are you ready to come in and be my special guest? I have been waiting since we talked to hear some of that blues that we talked about, Since my show is two hours I will do the first hour, then you can pick selections from music you bring for the entire second hour.” Well, I was excited to do this and I confirmed. At the festival I thought I would never hear from him again but Carl was a man of his word. So, that morning was going fine for the first hour, then I start picking my selections, mid way through broadcast Carl goes out for a smoke! He was taking too long and my song was running out, so to keep the music going I manned the board . When he comes back he notices it is another song and asks “Did you change it? I am sorry I obviously took to long.” I said, “Yes”, Carl says, “Who taught you?” I go on to tell him I was a club dee-jay and familiar with the board. Me and Carl hit it off, he asked his listeners that morning how they would like me as a co-host the remainder of the semester. After the show I asked him, “Why did you do that!” He goes on to tell me, “You have great music and I know it will go well.” I agreed and that is how I got started on KSPC. [Carl] ran my paperwork through the station without me knowing. When I got called to start training I went along with it , but I called Carl and asked how did this happened. He told me he did it and my music was too special not to share. Carl was a true mentor to me in so many ways, so in the end it was Carl’s fault!

What was the station like when you started and what are some interesting changes you’ve seen?
The station was more dated back when I started. It was modern technology back then and not computerized. We used carts for PSAs, Promos, and Station IDs. All had to be heard through a cart machine there was a designated slide on the board. We used to be able to record shows back then with a cassette deck that was in the OTA. There was a different procedure for start up of the station. You also had to know The Mosley  and monitor it during the show or you could possibly be knocked off the air. It happened to me a few times through the years. Back then it was a little more challenging to broadcast a show .
How did you get into the blues? What made you decide to do a show that specialized in the blues?

My older brother was an influence on me we grew up in the 70’s. He is 4 years older than me, so in order to hang out with him I listened to his music, which was a heavy dose of classic blues rock back in the day. [This included] bands like Led Zeppelin, Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Uriah Heep, Mountain, and Savoy Brown. I was a well versed 10 year old back then. When I was old enough to start going to clubs the new wave craze was happening around ’79. The scene was a real melting pot. I would go see The Plimsouls, a power pop band, but with a heavy influence on early 60’s R&B covers. Then I stumbled on to a Blasters show, an American Band playing American Music, and things started to change for my musical appetite. The British New Wave invasion was in full force, I was turned on to Pub Rock from Musicians like Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, and Graham Parker. I was getting educated, but still not quite there yet. Fast forward to 1983 shopping on Melrose at Flip, I hear David Bowie’s China Girl through the speakers. [It was] a defiant moment, hearing the blues on the guitar solo from a new name I had never heard of… Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 1985 in Santa Barbara I am officially bit by “The Blues Bug”, as they say, [during] an afternoon performance from Mitch Kashmar and the Pontiax. That performance changed my life, as I literally could not hold back the tears [during] such a passionate performance. From that day forward, I was on a mission to study, learn, and share this music with anyone willing to listen. Carl listened and that is where the music took me. I felt I could do many shows but a blues show seemed right at the time. 

What have been your favorite parts of doing a show at KSPC? Have you had any strange or particularly memorable experiences from your time on air? What do you think you’ll miss the most?
To have the freedom to do my show the way I want it, to bypass any pressure, and to play what I wanted to play. It enabled me to share artists you do not hear on other shows because the other jockeys are playing the trendy stuff, that never went well [with] my show. Not so much strange [but] you get your weird calls from time to time. Memorable experiences would be [meeting] the blues musicians that came through the doors of KSPC while touring. [Also] hanging out with Left Coast and learning from him and other older Blues Dee-jays back in the day. There was a comradery that does not exist today. I will miss the year end shows, the Same Old Blues Annual Top 10, and broadcasting in general, it has been a very good run!
 What are your plans now that you’re retiring from your weekly show? Do you have any parting words for your listeners?
To be honest I was planning on doing the show up to my 25th year and call it a day. I received an offer to go to work as Radio and Promotions Director for Delta Groove Records. This opening at the label was brought to my attention in April, I knew it would change my current volunteer status at the station, so I really thought about it. In May I was asked to tour abroad with Europe’s very own BB and the Blues Shacks. Upon my return I had to make a decision. Well, I did not have a chance to get back with them. They called ahead of time and let me know things had changed and if I was ready to jump on board with negotiating a deal I decided to move forward and get involved with another side of the industry. First, I would like to thank Erica for all her help throughout the years, and the staff who have always been there to clear my interviews and live broadcast. I came to the station not knowing what joy I would have expressing myself with the listeners, who have supported the show since day one. I have met some wonderful people and life long friends since starting the show. I am off onto another blues adventure and still continuing to share blues to the masses. Thank you Kspc for allowing me to start this adventure 22 years ago. It has changed my life!