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Not the Foggiest

Ten reasons to like KFOG: Dave Morey's 'Ten at Ten'

By Gina Arnold

THE OTHER DAY, I had a flat tire. It was cold and foggy out, and I sat inside my car waiting for AAA to come. I would have been horribly miserable if it weren't for Dave Morey and Ten at Ten--KFOG's 10-song salute to a specific year that plays every weekday at 10am. The year was 1979, and the first song was "Cruel to Be Kind" by Nick Lowe. To paraphrase the Beatles, it took a bad time and made it better, as I sat and bopped to some music that I had almost forgotten.

Ten at Ten is the only time that KFOG-FM (104.5) breaks out and plays a huge range of music--from Sly Stone to XTC. Thanks to host Dave Morey, the show is also well conceptualized; even the bad sets are interesting to me. Whether he is doing a wonderful year like 1985 or a crap one like 1971, Morey makes choices that invariably illuminate something about those times or about music that I hadn't thought of before.

For example, the worst Ten at Ten set that I've heard recently was a theme set for Earth Day. The songs caused me to wonder what it is about nature that makes it such a bad subject for rock. That night, I lay awake and composed my own Earth Day Ten at Ten, which included the Pixies' "Monkey Gone to Heaven," Jane's Addiction's "Ocean Size" and R.E.M.'s "Coyahoga." I felt as if I had gotten something from that morning's radio session, rather than finding it a dead loss, like most entertainment.

In short, Ten at Ten is KFOG's greatest feature and a perennially popular one, invariably placing in the top spot in the Arbitron ratings for that time slot. It is also one of KFOG's longest-running institutions, inaugurated in 1982 when the station became the classic-rock outlet it is today. Morey didn't think it up, although he has been in charge of it for 20 years, but the show has, he says, evolved over the years into his own personal project.

"I don't know what I did to deserve such a great job," he comments. "I'm so lucky and blessed to be able to do a show that is so anti-radio--or anti what radio has become."

And he's right. What makes Ten at Ten so special is all the timely jingles and news clips that Morey adds--everything from commercials to TV theme songs to historic speeches. Recent audio clips have included the theme from The Bob Newhart Show, Spiro Agnew's resignation speech and TV news commentary on the Tiananmen Square massacre, Chernobyl, Sandra Day O'Connor--you name it. I had always assumed that Morey got this stuff off the Internet, but amazingly, it's all part of his home collection. "I started recording things off the TV and radio when I was a kid," he says with a shrug, "and it's all there now. I have three reels of the 1969 moon landing. It's a very boring tape, but there it is."

At the beginning of Ten at Ten, Morey does a lot of birthday wishes, and one notes that most of the "Fog Heads" he lauds are in their 40s and 50s. But, as he points out, KFOG's listenership is really the 25-45 age group. "When we do the early '90s, our older listeners get pissed off, and when we do the '60s, the younger ones do. So I really try and mix it up."

He says he enjoys the sets from the early '80s quite a bit himself. "I think the younger people enjoy all the sets, because it's a learning experience, while the older people ..." He trails off, but I assume he means that they don't like to hear the newer music. "A good record is a good record, whether it's from 1971 or 1988. There are some things that just don't get played on KFOG or any other station that I can get away with on Ten at Ten, and that makes it really fun."

I think so, too. I asked Morey if he had a favorite year himself. "Well, I'm 50," he says, "and I really like the years I was 14, 15 and 16. But right now, we only go back to 1968 and up to 1991. And the '60s and the early '90s don't get done very often. We sort of have a 10-year cutoff. I can't wait for 1992--that's going to make some amazing sets."

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From the June 6-12, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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