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San Diego Spotlight: CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

Drive to Bring McCartney to San Diego Bogs Down

January 22, 1992|JOHN D'AGOSTINO

If Paul McCartney plays San Diego sometime in 1992, his appearance will reward the indefatigable efforts of local fan Carmen Salmon and two relatively high-profile associates--radio personality Norman Flint and attorney Mark Silver. Last August, shortly after McCartney mentioned in a televised interview that he might do a 1992 tour sometime after his June 18 birthday, the trio initiated a petition drive to bring the former Beatle to town. Thousands of fans signed up, and the prospects for an impressive presentation to the McCartney camp looked promising.

Six months later, however, the drive is stuck in neutral, owing at least indirectly to the recession and its effect on the already uncertain world of radio programming.

Salmon and Flint had met two months earlier at a multimedia event called "Beatles Brunch Live!" that Flint staged at the La Mirage apartment complex in Mission Valley. Geared to Beatlemaniacs, the program took its name from Flint's Sunday-morning show, "Beatles Brunch," which at the time aired from 11 a.m. to noon on KSDO radio's "Classic 103 FM" (102.9-FM). Each week, Flint created a different thematic context for the airing of classic Beatles recordings, and he often featured guests on the show.

Apprised of Salmon's petition efforts, Flint contacted Silver, whose collection of Beatles memorabilia was exhibited at "Beatles Brunch Live!" The attorney, who underwrote the San Diego Music Awards program in August, paid for the printing of placards that accompanied the petitions, which Salmon placed in various local outlets. Flint, meanwhile, began promoting the McCartney drive on his radio show, which, in turn, was touted on the placards.

Things proceeded smoothly until Nov. 13, when KSDO notified Flint (two days before his 52nd birthday) that they were eliminating his position as the station's director of creative services. According to Flint, KSDO wanted him to continue his Beatles show--which he recently had renamed "The Beatles: An Ongoing Story"--but he no longer would be allowed to produce it in the station's studio. Given the option of producing the program elsewhere--at a projected cost of $600-700 per show--Flint rejected the offer. His final program aired Nov. 24, and with it went a major public forum for promoting the McCartney petition.

"This whole situation is very awkward for me," said Flint on Monday. "People will visit the places where we have the petition, and they'll see the placards telling them to listen for details on Norman Flint's Beatles show on 102.9-FM, and it isn't the same show anymore. In the same time slot, they're running a show with the old name, 'Beatles Brunch,' and it's just a series of pre-taped songs interrupted every couple of tunes by a voice track identifying the show and the station. And they've stopped running spots promoting the petition."

Flint winces at a painful irony. Early in the drive, Salmon contacted McCartney's offices on Abbey Road in London, and was told that it would take 30,000 signatures to lure McCartney here. At this point, the petition has collected about 4,000, but Flint is convinced they'd be half way to their goal if he were still plugging the drive on his radio show. Flint is happy that KSDO still has a copy of the petition in its lobby, yet he rues the potential public misperception that it is the station that is making an effort to bring McCartney here.

"It's just such a bizarre set of circumstances," he said. "And I feel especially bad for Carmen, who's worked so hard to get this thing going. She was so encouraged when the petition started gaining momentum, and then I got dismissed and it all sort of ground to a halt. It's by no means a dead project, but I no longer have the means to promote it."

Flint is hoping to rectify that by landing his show on another local station, and he's enlisted the local Stoorza public-relations agency to help him syndicate "The Beatles: An Ongoing Story" nationally. But he remains somewhat fatalistic about the current petition picture.

"Right now, all we can hope is that a lot of people will notice the displays and sign up," Flint said, wistfully.

Petitions are located at Tower Records (Sports Arena and Fletcher Parkway locations); Off the Record (College area, Hillcrest, Encinitas); Blue Meannie in El Cajon; Music Plus (Clairemont, Point Loma, Encinitas, College area); Lou's Records in Encinitas; Cow Records in Ocean Beach; Tasha's Music City (downtown); the Nickelodeon in Normal Heights; the Bonny Lad English Pub and Grill in Del Mar; Becky's Famous Hamburgers on Mission Gorge Road; both the Earthquake Cafe and the Camelot Inn in San Marcos; and the La Mirage Hill Club in Mission Valley. And, of course, in the lobby at KSDO.

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