During the early days of the pandemic, Keith Cunningham, Program Director at Meruelo Media rock KLOS Los Angeles (95.5), did what a lot of us did. He spent his downtime scrolling through social media feeds.
“I will freely admit that I love TikTok and I spend a lot of time watching entertaining videos there,” Cunningham tells Inside Radio. “Early on in the pandemic I saw a video from this girl Jasmine Star.” Star is a musician who was uploading videos of herself playing to classic rock songs. “It was apparent how phenomenal she is on guitar so I shared it with our staff,” he continues.
Midday personality Marci Wiser, who has a steady stable of artists popping up on her show, regularly mentions that she believes the next big rock star is going to be a female artist. She would play some of Jasmine’s clips for the musicians she had on her show, including Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and Lita Ford, all of whom were impressed with the young shredder. Then a call came from a listener who said he thinks that next rock star could be his daughter. He was referring to Jasmine Star, who it turns out was local to the Los Angeles area.
From that chance TikTok find of Cunningham’s and Wiser’s on-air support of the teenager, KLOS partnered with the young guitarist, which led to the creation of “Jasmine Jams,” on online video feature that lives on the station website and YouTube channel. Shorter videos are also posted to the KLOS Instagram page.
“About every seven to ten days or so she will send us a video of her shredding a song that KLOS plays,” Cunningham explains. “It’s a really cool, organic, local thing with a teenager who’s playing rock music.”
The videos have been a hit with the KLOS audience, garnering respectable view counts. A handful of the videos on the station YouTube channel have hundreds of thousands of views. The most recent video that was posted, a Led Zeppelin medley, quickly rose to 17,000-plus views, “which is not bad for our station at this point,” Cunningham notes. “We are a mainstream rock radio station, our audience is 35 to 40-plus and they’re just not running to the internet to watch video of teenage guitar players, but the videos do pretty well.”
Star intros each one and explains why she chose the song. Before she performed her take on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Scuttle Buttin’, she says, “I saw a video of him using this song as a warm up, and I was blown away by just how hard he was ripping.”
Jasmine has appeared on KLOS numerous times, sitting in with the “Heidi & Frank” morning show, where she would play in and out of commercial breaks; she has sat in with Wiser in middays and on Matt Pinfield’s “New and Improved” Sunday night specialty program. “She was a guest one night and played keyboards and guitar,” Cunningham recalls of her visit with Pinfield. “It’s a cool local organic thing. We are supporting local artists more than ever.”
The exposure on LA’s iconic rock station has caught the attention of labels and others hoping to work with young rocker. “She is getting approached by every label under the sun,” Cunningham proudly boasts. “The offers that are coming her way are non-stop.”
He says Star isn’t the only budding musician building a following on TikTok. “There is an avalanche of teenagers on the way that are playing rock music,” he says. “Young adults all over TikTok playing guitars and drums.” The newfound appeal of rock by the youth, Cunningham believes, is because “it’s authentic music played by real human beings on real instruments. I think the younger generation appreciates that.” – Jay Gleason