College Radio Day 2018: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, “I Hate Myself For Loving You” (1988)


(Above: Joan’s 1983 album, called Album, which is fantastic.)

Today is the 8th annual College Radio Day. CRD started in 2011 as a way for college radio stations to get together and celebrate what they do: give artists that wouldn’t otherwise get a chance some exposure, and give new air talent that wouldn’t otherwise get a chance a start on their careers. I’ve written extensively about how important college radio was to me: from starting my career at Lewis University’s WLRA, to figuring out my place in the business at Western Illinois University’s WIUS, to eventually serving as the Professional-in-Residence at Saint Xavier’s WXAV, which taught me that I really, really wanted to be a college radio adviser, my current job at Grand Valley State University’s WCKS The Whale. I’ve had a chance to work alongside many students who have gone on to do some pretty great things in the radio business, and the one thing that we all have in common is our start in college radio.  I’ve been privileged to be a part of the team that puts on College Radio Day since its start. The founder, Dr. Rob Quicke, and I met at WXAV, tried in vain to launch a syndicated radio show spotlighting British music, and ended up running with this idea instead. Rob has allowed me to host the College Radio Day simulcast for the last several years; this year’s version is expected to run on 480 radio stations around the world.

Every year College Radio Day reaches out to artists who have been helped by college radio in some way to offer support, record liners, and be ambassadors for the event. This year, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna have answered that call. Most people know Joan Jett, of course, for the huge smash “I Love Rock and Roll.” They may not remember the Runaways, the band that she formed in the 1970s before going solo. The Runaways had a hard time finding airplay except – of course – on college radio. Joan never forgot that. Even after the success of “I Love Rock and Roll,” hits didn’t always come easy for Jett, largely due to arcane programming rules about “how many females” we play on a radio station in an hour, and when the female singers sing the down-tempo songs, where’s a rocker to fit? (This would be a great topic for a dissertation.) A lot of the music that Joan made through the 80s didn’t always find a home on the radio as a result. I’m a huge fan of her 1983 album Album, which contained “Fake Friends,” a song that should get more airplay on retro stations in a social media landscape. I’ll always stop on “Bad Reputation” on the rare occasion that I hear it.

But, yeah, I did play Joan Jett in college. In 1988 she released a track called “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” which served two purposes: one, it was a rocker that sounded great on a morning show, and two, it was handy to have around after the inevitable round of breakups that went through a college radio station in any given semester. We were not above playing “message songs” on our shows. In the spring of 1988 I was dumped in the middle of a show by a girl named Melissa, who relayed a message through my friend Dave by phone that it was over. {Me: “Any requests?” Dave: “Well, there’s one for Zeppelin, one for Rush, and one from Melissa to see other people.”} I followed the announcement with three songs: “The Breakup Song” by Greg Kihn, “Melissa” by the Allman Brothers, and “Bitch” by the Rolling Stones.  Then, we went to the bar. Sometimes, you just need a singer to say what you aren’t feeling up to saying yourself. Joan Jett handled that duty for a lot of us very well.

Need to announce a breakup?  Get your own show and play “I Hate Myself For Loving You.” You can hear it here.


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