Elvis insults St. Louis Radio station KSHE
Billboard, 1979-03-24


Costello's Attack Of Station Jarring

ST. LOUIS—True fans expect the unexpected from a revolutionary rock 'n' roller like EIvis Costello. But even his most faithful followers never expected Costello to verbally spit in the face of the radio station that helped to host his concert March at the Kiel Opera house here.

In more ways than one, the hottest of the new wave performers saved his most powerful hits for the last. He closed his set with two of his most popular songs and one of the biggest slams ever hurled by a performer at a concert host.

Costello's remarks also fanned the fires of competition that have raged here for years between two popular FM radio stations. KADI, a locally-owned 100,000-watt station and KSHE, a 100,000-watt station part of the Century Broadcasting Corp. As a result, his music may be banned from the latter.

Many of the more than 3,000 who nearly filled the auditorium were shocked when Costello introduced "Accidents Will Happen" by dedicating it to "all the boys at radio station KADI." That was an ironic dedication, considering that KSHE had helped to sponsor the gig.

At first, many in the surprised audience assumed the British singer had confused his call letters. But before Costello delivered his final song—and blow—it was clear that the enraged performer knew exactly what he was saying.

"Now I want to dedicate this song to all the local bastard radio stations that don't play our songs ... and to KSHE", he shouted, Iaunching into a pulverizing version of "Radio, Radio." Written by Costello, the Iyrics take a stab at radio programming, contending it "is in thc hands of such a lot of fools, trying to anesthetize thc way you feel..."

Costello gave the crowd the unconventional performance it wanted. And he gave KSHE a hit that Shelly Grafman, KSHE executive vice president, said the station did not deserve.

"I am upset and shocked that a performer would behave in such an unprofessional manner," Grafman said. "The only speculation I have about the reasons for the insult to KSHE is that he believed the innuendoes and false charges that our station is not supportive of his music or does not give it appropriate airplay."

Grafman refuses to say who was responsible for what be called "false charges." Richard Miller and Peter Parisi president and program director, respectively, at KADI, volunteer more specific information.

"We have been upset ever since we Iearned KSHE was sponsoring Costello's concert and taking all the credit for introduging him to St. Louis," Parisi says. "For a long time we were the only station to play Costell's music. KSHE only began playing it recently when they made the deal to promote the concert. We think this is dirty politics, and we wanted Costello to know the whole story."

When the singer arrived here, Parisi says he telephoned Costello's mmanager. Evidently, Parisi's words were relayed to Costello, who reacted to them onstage that night.

Columbia Records (Costello's label) asked KSHE to "welcome" Costello here and serve as an unofficial concert sponsor, Grafman says. The show technically was sponsored by Contemporary Productions, a local promotion company, and Columbia Records, he says. KSHE had no financial interest in the concert, Grafman says.