James Cole grew up in the New York suburbs in the 1970s and ‘80s. His father, Bob Cole, was VP of CBS-FM in New York City from 1969-82, and Bob helped create and oversaw development “The Mellow Sound” on KNX-FM starting in January 1973. As KNX operated out of Los Angeles, James didn’t even discover the mellow format until late 1977 when KNX General Manager Bob Nelson made airchecks and mailed them to Bob Cole. Several tapes followed in 1980 and 1981, and James became hooked on not just the unique format but artists he had never heard on east coast radio stations.
What most intrigued James were how songs and artists were included in carefully-crafted “sets” of three to four songs at a time. Most remarkably, many sets were “keyed,” songs matched in part by being in the same or compatible keys or even tempo. These segues between songs was one of KNX’s most unique features (the transitions executed brilliantly by program director Michael Sheehy and others) that listeners sometimes did not realize that a new song had begun. Listening to KNX was like having friends on the radio who chose music – both new and old – that could be listened to for hours at a time.
For years James attempted to create his own “song sets” in the Mellow Rock sound. For the last eight years he has worked with engineer John Styll to create over four hundred new “Tribute” sets to the original KNX Mellow Sound – some of which have been included on MellowRock.com.
Cole is a published writer and artist who currently resides on Cape Cod, MA.