Saint Motel

On the first weekend in December, some of the biggest names on the radio come to Fort Lauderdale Beach. We spoke to the people behind Riptide.

Silversun Pickups are coming to Fort Lauderdale Beach on a Saturday, and so is Robert DeLong. Good Charlotte, Miike Snow, Saint Motel, Awolnation and The Struts will be there – and we could go on. Meanwhile if you’re a bit, shall we say, mature for those names to mean much to you, you might want to hear about Sunday. That’s when the B52s go to the beach, along with Earth, Wind and Fire. Exposé will be there along with Flock of Seagulls. And again, there’ll be more.

It’s all thanks to Riptide, a two-day concert that will bring some of the biggest names in rock from the ’70s and ’80s to today to Fort Lauderdale Beach on December 3 and 4. The concert’s the brainchild of the parent company of a handful of South Florida’s top radio stations, including alternative rock station 104.3 The Shark and classic hits station 102.7 The Beach.

Jade Alexander, the longtime South Florida radio and television personality who is now 102.7’s midday presenter, reckons people are going to be blown away by what’s being planned. “We are going to own Fort Lauderdale for a weekend,” she says.

They reckon they’ve put together a lineup that’s not just quality, but perfect for the Fort Lauderdale sand – lively and high-energy.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

“The fans are just going to lose their minds,” says Deena Lang, 104.3’s midday presenter. “They’re all bands that bring a humongous presence to the stage. There’s not one wet blanket on the bill. The energy will be consistently solid from beginning to end. That’s the goal – to make sure the vibe is upbeat and consistent the whole time.”

Riptide is the brainchild of radio executives from media company Entercom, who look at Fort Lauderdale and see massive untapped potential. Von Freeman reckons Riptide can be big and enduring – and he should know. He’s built a career in radio and live events, much of it in Los Angeles with nationally influential Top-40 station KIIS-FM. In his career he’s helped launch Ryan Seacrest’s career, started the Radio Music Awards – and perhaps most relevantly to Fort Lauderdale, developed several major concerts including L.A.’s massive annual Wango Tango.

Long story short, the man knows what needs to happen to make a big musical event work. And when he looks at Fort Lauderdale, he sees the potential. He booked Sunday’s classic bands; he also believes Fort Lauderdale Beach is the perfect place to get these artists together. After all, so much of the 1980s sound was solidified by an upstart MTV setting up shop on the beach when Fort Lauderdale was still the Spring Break epicenter. “I could make the argument that ’80s music was born on Fort Lauderdale Beach,” Freeman says.

He also praises the city and various city bodies that all have to come together to make an event such as this happen. Fort Lauderdale, he says, gets it.

Earth, Wind and Fire

Meanwhile, Entercom has the power to make Riptide an event known far beyond South Florida. The company operates in major radio markets across the US; in addition to heavily promoting Riptide on its South Florida stations, it’s going to promote it in more than 20 markets nationwide. From younger music fans who want to see their favorite bands on the beach to people who want to party to the same tunes they heard at Spring Break during the Reagan administration, Freeman believes he’s got the kind of product that will sell.

That fits in with the overall plan of a company that’s relatively new to South Florida. (Entercom only got into the market in 2014 when it bought the stations’ previous parent company.) Talk to anybody in the company’s northwest Miami studios and you’ll hear a lot about being a part of the community – about bringing back the community spirit and knowledge that were present when stations such as WHYI, WSHE and WZTA ruled the airwaves.

Alexander, the longtime South Florida media personality and 102.7 midday presenter, compares what the Entercom stations are doing now to WHYI, Y100, when she was there in its heyday. She left radio for a number of years but was lured back.

“This radio station is on fire,” she says. “The local flavor was gone (from South Florida radio), and these guys were like ‘No no no, we are Miami, we are Fort Lauderdale. We are South Florida.’” And for one weekend in December, they’re going to the beach.


The Details

Riptide will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday tickets will cost $35, while Sunday tickets will cost $50. There will also be VIP areas and, in addition to the main stage, the Underground Lounge. For more information, visit riptidefest.com.

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