Peace Through Music is His Gig


sat in on Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride radio show on The Rock 97.3 FM and 107.9 FM in Morro Bay and had a blast! I discovered Mr. Bill the week previous while writing up a little article about the station’s fundraiser and logged onto the website and there it was, my kind of music — folk rock. Mr. Bill is Bill Musial and has been doing radio on and off since 1993 beginning in Cambria on the now defunct, but missed, KOTR.

But let’s start at the beginning. Musial was born in 1965 right at the heart of the 60s peace movement. “My parents were somewhat hippies, so I grew up with a peace and nonviolence set of values,” he said. In 1970 the family moved to San Luis Obispo and Mr. Bill had all his schooling here. During the 1980s he met and married his wife and ultimately fathered three children. After obtaining his degree he went into teaching and taught the fourth grade and eighth grade as well as some alternative education classes in Paso Robles. The economic set back of 2008 saw him facing layoff. He then decided to obtain his master’s degree in History at Cal Poly and for his thesis wrote the History of Rock Music. He is now well known as a rock and roll historian. “There isn’t much I don’t know about rock music,” he commented.

When The Rock radio station began in 2013, he joined the eclectic group of guys and gals who volunteer as the air talent for the station. Hal Abrams, founder and president, of The Rock asked him to take a spot every Thursday from Noon until 4:20 p.m. He decided not to return to teaching and began driving limousines doing wine tours which keeps him busy from Friday through Tuesday. Since the Thursday radio time fit into his schedule, he agreed to take it on.

The title of his show, Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride, came about by borrowing from “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” from Disney and Mr. Bill from “Saturday Night Live.” Mr. Bill favors British, Irish, Welsh, and Breton folk-rock music.

The program is divided into segments with the first beginning at high noon as the “Mystery Theme” for one hour where Mr. Bill invites his audience to figure out the theme of the day by identifying the selections he chooses. For the next two hours it is “Nap Time” but don’t fall asleep because you don’t want to miss the presentation of new arrivals of recordings of the current-day folk-rock musicians.

Mr. Bill plays CDs but mostly plays what are nowadays termed vinyl LPs but what we always referred to as records.

“I think the quality of sound is better on the vinyl recording,” he explained. So, the next segment is aptly titled “Vinyl Frontier” and highlights new records.

At the third hour, it is “Folk Freak Out” and Mr. Bill’s favorite time when he plays those British Isle folk songs and occasionally American folk. At 4 p.m., it is time for the “Epic Ending” where he plays songs that are at least 10 minutes long.

Every other Thursday evening at 7 p.m., Mr. Bill joins Drew Ross’ Rock program where they play a little musical chess called “Dueling Turntables.” This consists of one of them playing a selection and in the time that song plays the other needs to come up with a selection that matches it either musically or lyrically to be played next. These shows are themed too with one recent program playing only songs from 1979 or they will do songs from a performer who is having a birthday and many other ideas. In these duels, Drew usually chooses songs based on music while Mr. Bill is inclined to choose songs based on lyrics.

Mr. Bill believes we can achieve peace through music and his selections on Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride bear up his belief. Listening to his show isn’t so much a wild ride as it is a musical treasure trip sometimes down memory lane and sometimes what’s current in folk-rock music.

“This is my church,” he said, and he means it. “I love music!”

Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride Thursday from 12 to 4:20 p.m.. on www.centralcoastradio.org or 97.3 FM and 107.9 FM The Rock.

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