Jonesy’s Jukebox, the free-form radio show hosted by ex-Sex Pistol Steve Jones, is back on Los Angeles radio after a seven-year break. Cumulus-owned classic rock station KLOS (95.5 FM) began midday broadcasts on Jan. 11, landing a two-hour appearance by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl the day of David Bowie’s death. The veteran rockers’ ruminations on mortality and their own existence was, at the very least, strange and, above all, utterly compelling.
“I just can’t do robotic radio,” Jones, 60, tells Billboard. “Either you have Jonesy’s Jukebox the way it is or don’t hire me.” For an industry that has, over time, adapted to an increasingly strict programming model, could the caustic host’s stream-of-consciousness musings and anything-goes rock signal a sea change for what may be seen as a stagnant genre?
“With Pandora, Spotify, Apple’s Beats 1 and multiple choices, radio is seeing its job to be curation, because there are lots of places to listen to commercial-free music with no personality,” says Ross on Radio newsletter author Sean Ross. “One person with the authority to surprise and delight still means something.”
Now on his third radio station, after stints at Entravision’s short-lived KDLD and modern-rock giant KROQ, Jones is sanguine about radio’s consolidation and ever-shifting format sands. “It’s out of my f—ing hands,” he says. “Hopefully there’s still some real music fans who want to hear a bit more than the norm.”