By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
"When we started, we realized we were playing to a format," he concedes. "It's not an ideal format, but it's better than some in terms of exposing the world of music--so we decided to start off slowly in the hopes of evolving into something more adventurous. That was why we called it The Difference--because we wanted to be more adventurous than the affiliates themselves, in the hopes of pushing stations in better directions. But the stations weren't interested in being pushed. Their loyalty is ultimately to advertisers; their survival is dependent upon ad dollars. If Zima is spending money like water--which is what Zima tastes like, by the way--they're doing so because they want to target a particular audience. And anything that might be seen as unappealing to that particular audience is seen as dangerous--which is what we were."
As a result, various stations began demanding that Rundgren homogenize The Difference in ways that he was unwilling to even consider. "Essentially, it got to be where there were more and more cooks instead of fewer and fewer cooks. Things began to deteriorate seriously over the summer, and I finally just said enough is enough. I said, 'If I can't play a broader range of music--if I can't play jazz or Latin or Tex-Mex or zydeco or hip-hop or really heavy metal or anything that I feel like playing without garnering complaints, then fuck it.'
"In the end, I refused to be dragged around by parochial local concerns," he adds. "And it's those concerns that are already killing any potential that Triple-A might have had. Nobody stuck with the format long enough to peel off the smart, younger audience that should have been interested in it. Instead, they began regurgitating the same old things. They figured that people were less interested in something that might have broadened their views than they were in Bad Company--or in Hootie & the Blowfish, which is just plain old dreck. That represents the complete antithesis of what I wanted to do. So if the syndicator wants to keep the show going, he'll have to do it without me."
Don't shed any tears for Rundgren over this disappointment, though; he's so enthusiastic about his Internet project, which he hopes to put into operation during the first quarter of 1997, that he's already put his association with The Difference behind him. He claims not to know what challenge he'll tackle once his computer-generated storefront has opened, but he's certain that something will present itself to him before long.
"I have a short attention span, which tends to be a symptom of younger people," says Rundgren. "As people get older, they usually narrow down their range and start to focus in on certain things. They start to be less open to newer and more radical things and stick to more of a core of set ideas--mostly, I think, because your brain starts to hurt after a while and you just want it to stop. But I've gotten used to the constant racket." He laughs. "In fact, I kind of like it."
Todd Rundgren. 9 p.m. Saturday, November 30, Ogden Theatre, 935 East Colfax, $18.50, 830-2525 or 1-800-444-