Randy Raley's Biography
Randy Raley is the proprieter of Planet Radio.
Randy grew up on a farm in Ava, Mo. where there wan't much to do after getting the evening chores done other than doing homework in his room. In the evening, WLS from Chicago, KAAY from Little Rock and WLAC from Nashville would come blaring in his bedroom courtesy of his Sears and Roebuck AM/FM Cassette recorder. He fell in love with top 40 radio and the underground "Beaker Street" program on KAAY where he first heard King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple and other great rock and roll bands.
His first time on the air anywhere came in March of 1971 when the newsman didn't show up at his local AM staton in Ava, so the afternoon guy handed him a newscast and said "when I point to you, read this." He did and the radio drug was injected into his veins. Randy got lucky enough to start his radio career at 100,000 watt KFMH in Muscatine Iowa, where there wasn't much of a playlist. He the went to be the first mid day announcer on WXLP in the Quad Cities and got his real big break when Max Floyd offered him the night shift at KYYS (KY102) in Kansas City. He then moved to afternoons and was Kansas City's most popular announcer in that time slot from 1983-85. In the spring of 1985, Randy had his lifelong dream come true when KSHE 95 in St. Louis came calling with the opportunity to do the 4pm to 8pm shift. "I was totally happy and content in Kansas City, there was only one station I would have ever left KC for and KSHE happened to be that station." Randy said.
In St. Louis, Randy began a run of being number one or two in the coveted 25-54 demo for the next 13 years. All things must come to an end and in 1998, Randy went across the street to do mornings (with Mike Doran) for The Rock! Their morning show consistently ranked in the top three with men 18-49, competing with Bob and Tom and Howard Stern. The competition was too great for Emmis, the company that owned KSHE. In October of 2000, Emmis purchased The Rock!, shut it down and fired Randy. Randy then began what most radio announcers fear, stopping at WSSM, KLOU in St. Louis and then moving back to Kansas City, helming the morning show at the flagship station of the Kansas City Chiefs, KCFX. After movng the morning show from 13th place to 3rd place in 18 months, a new General Manager brought in his own team and Randy was let go in June of 2004.
It was about that time Randy decided to say screw it and start his own radio station. There was very little information about internet radio and how it worked. One morning, while surfing the net, Randy found a column by Dan Kelley who was a classic rock programmer for a station in Michigan. Dan was starting his own internet station and Randy admired from afar. Dan's station "Okemos Brewing Company" sounded exactly like the station Randy had in his head all these years. Randy befriended Dan and thus, the idea of planet radio was launched. First, Randy had to find the funds for the station, so when he went to work for Lee Enterprises in October of 2009, he hooked up with Mike Batchelor and the journey began. The automation software was purchased from station playlist and Randy began ripping tunes. "I wanted to make sure I had the best sounding songs, so a lot of the tunes on planet radio are masters, MFSL copies of LPs, DCC and gold recordings. I know the quality of mp3's leave something to be desired, but I went the extra mile to get the best sounding renditions." Randy explains.
On January 1st, 2010, at approximately 12 noon, after a couple of backfires and false starts, planet radio was born. The first song heard on planet radio was done by local Kansas City favorites Shooting Star whose "Breakout" broke through the airwaves. The first full song played was "Song For America" by Kansas.
"It's kind of funny", Raley says,"the first incarnation of planet radio contained everything from Motown to John Denver to Back Sabbath. I thought after awhile, that mix didn't work, so I took all the top 40 and pop stuff out. That didn't sound right either, so almost five years later, planet radio sounds pretty much like it did when it started."
What can you expect from the planet radio playlist? "The idea that you never know what's coming next", Raley said. "It harkens back to my first station KFMH in Muscatine, you literally didn't know what was next, it could be some jazz fusion, or anything really." "I always liked the surprise factor, when if Pink Floyd was coming up, it wasn't the same six songs played on terrestrial radio. Planet radio reminds me of the radio station I had in my head back on the farm in Ava, a little bit of this followed by a little bit of that."
What's next for planet radio? "Stay tuned, I'm always tinkering with it, but I hope the surprise factor is there always."