The Reader is mourning the loss over the weekend of one of its most idiosyncratic and talented contributors, Cliff Doerksen. Michael Miner’s remembrance includes a long quote from Ira Glass of This American Life, who praises Doerksen’s talent for excavating obscure corners of history. His fascinating, entertaining, and occasionally revolting cover story about the surprisingly prominent role mince pie played in the American Experience won him a James Beard award.
Doerksen wrote a lot about radio—his one published book is titled American Babel: Rogue Radio Broadcasters of the Jazz Age—and he turned his remarkable attention to payola in popular music for a 2002 Reader feature called “Same Old Song and Dance.” It’s not only one of the most extensively researched articles I’ve ever read on the topic but also makes a compelling contrarian argument that bribing DJs for airtime might actually be a good thing. You can find it in our archives here.