Import-music expert has one-of-kind show
By Michael Pflughoeft
Special to The Sentinel - Friday, April 26, 1985
Lining every available inch of wall space inside Mark Krueger's West Side bungalow are record crates stacked five feet high. Krueger is obviously obsessed with collecting records, but this is not a typical album collection by any means. For every Springsteen or Stones album, there are ten by Italian progressive rock bands. For every American release, there are 50 foreign records. Krueger, promotion director at 93 QFM, is Milwaukee's resident import-record expert and host of the longest running import radio show on commercial radio in the US. Every Monday at midnight on WQFM, Krueger's "Import Show" fills Milwaukee's airwaves with something different - music from around the world, unknown to most people here. "The 'Import Show' is one of the few things on commercial radio where format is thrown completely out the window ... I get to play what I want," said Krueger. "I think it's refreshing, for commercial radio, to be able to hear things you can't hear anywhere else." Krueger's interest in imported music began with the first wave of British progressive rock during the early '70s. Bands like King Crimson, Van der Graff Generator and Traffic piqued his curiosity. "I'd read album and club reviews in Melody Maker (an English magazine) and wondered, what do these bands I'd never heard of sound like?" This interest mushroomed and he soon became an avid collector. Import records became a hobby for Krueger, a hobby that eventually paid off with a job as the import buyer for Peaches records. In 1977, Krueger took the idea for a unique radio show to WZMF, and the "Import Show" was born. He was on ZMF for 3 1/2 years, followed by 1 1/2-year on WMSE and eventually moved to QFM, where the show survives today. According to Krueger, "Most people think that music comes from England and America - lately Canada and Australia - but after that, that's it. But there's a heck of a lot of music being produced all over the world. The show says to people, 'Hey, there's other music around you don't know about.'" He added, "You can't look at commercial radio as your only source of music information - you can't. There are so many bands whose albums come out in different countries, or their own country, before they're released here if they ever are released here. "Also, the 'Import Show' may let you hear something by an artist you may know, before you hear it anywhere else. For example, Genesis has so many records that are available only in England - flip sides of 45s or special 12-inch recordings of a song that wasn't on an album. The only place you'll hear that stuff is on the 'Import Show.'" During a typical hour show, Krueger will play an average of 10 different bands - from Argentine electronic rock to Japanese heavy metal and everything in between. "It's different. The music isn't weird - well, some of it might be a little weird; what I really like is weird," Krueger said. "But I try to make it as accessible as possible to a new person who's never heard a group and at the same time keep it so someone who's into imports can enjoy it, too," he said. Krueger keeps up on the current import scene through countless magazines, friends, auction lists (where $200 albums are not uncommon) and correspondence with bands, record labels and import freaks around the world. The hobby has become an obsession. "There are still lots of records I want, but you can't just go into Joe Blow Record Store and buy them. They won't be there. You have to search for them, write letters, and eventually you'll dig them up." The response to the show has been overwhelmingly positive, and Krueger hopes to syndicate his show nationally. Until that happens, the show will go on here, as will his unending quest for new music. "Most people like to hear what they know," he said. "Familiarity breeds content. I like to hear what I don't know and, hopefully, people who are like me will tune in."
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