Up high in the Rock Hall's fifth-floor studio, Dusty Street is getting ready for her radio show. Not her paid gig, her weekend shifts on Sirius' Classic Vinyl channel, but her Fly Low Show podcast, in which she relives the musical freedom of her early years as a DJ.
"I'm not sure what I'm going to do until I do it," says Street, as I peruse her classic R&B 45s — Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Ain't Nothing You Can Do," Allen Toussaint's "From a Whisper to a Scream." She grabs If 60s Were 90s, the Beautiful People's album of remixed Jimi Hendrix songs, and puts it into a CD player.
"Woo! Now, see, just listening to that, 'Fat Man in the Bathtub' [from Little Feat] has to go in this set, " she says.
Inspiration, improvisation, adventure: That's how Street chose what to play at San Francisco's KSAN and Los Angeles' KROQ during rock radio's freeform glory years. Street, one of the first female FM rock DJs, hit the air full time in 1969.
Playing Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Janis Joplin and Pink Floyd today, she says, is "like hanging out with old friends." Or old rivals. "Oh, yeah! I knew Janis," she says. "Matter of fact, Janis used to take my boyfriends away from me, dammit."