If you twiddle your radio dial tomorrow morning at 10:50 and hear "We Are the World" on more than one local station, don't be surprised. It's part of a conspiracy of conscience that is being expressed as a simultaneous nationwide and worldwide broadcast of the famine relief record by hundreds and possibly thousands of radio stations.
The Good Friday broadcast was inspired by stations in Georgia and Utah and is being supported by several major networks. Among the local stations participating are WRQX, WMAL, WETA, WAVA, WKYS and WHUR.
You may also hear "We Are the World" on the elevator, in your dentist's office or while you're shopping. For only the second time in its 50-year history, Muzak will be interrupting its regular service, to broadcast the song.
"We Are the World" was recorded by 46 U.S. stars who donated their time. Proceeds from sales of the record -- already close to $9 million -- are going to USA for Africa, a nonprofit organization founded by the performers to aid famine-stricken Africa.
The reason for the call for a global broadcast is to "get the point across that we really are the world," Bob Wolfe of WROM-AM said. He and Don Briscar of WKCX-FM, both in Rome, Ga., and Jim Mickelson, program director of KZAN in Ogden, Utah, initiated the idea of the simultaneous broadcast.
Ironically, it grew out of an accident, when Briscar and Wolfe, who are on competing stations, inadvertently played "We Are the World" at the same time. After persuading more than 200 stations in the South to play it simultaneously on March 20, they decided to try going international.
USA for Africa supported the plan and put Wolfe and Briscar in contact with the trade magazine Radio and Records, which publicized the project in last Friday's edition.
"We anticipate or hope that about 5,000 radio stations around the country will participate," magazine spokesman Harvey Melnick said Tuesday in Los Angeles. "NBC has agreed to feed it on their satellite distribution to England, Australia, Canada, West Germany, Hawaii, Alaska."
The 500-station Music Satellite Network is participating, as is the 85-member Maine Association of Broadcasters. In Maine, the broadcast will also be plugged live into the public school classrooms. A number of stations will be dropping their format restrictions for this event, including all-news stations WEEI in New York and WINZ in Miami.
"These stations are recognizing the worth of the project," says Melnick.
Bob Castle, chief of the radio division at Armed Forces Network, which has 400 stations on land and sea around the world, said the network won't broadcast the song but "we have advised our stations that they can broadcast it if they choose." He said they all have copies of the record.
Voice of America also will play the record at 10:50 a.m., although at that time of day it is beaming only to the Mideast and southern Asia, said spokeswoman Regina Brown. She said VOA will play it at other times to various regions.
In Ottawa, radio station CFGO said today it would join in the broadcast, and program director Trudy Chamberlain urged that American radio stations also play the Canadian famine relief song, "Tears Are Not Enough," to add to the international flavor of the event.
Meanwhile, several new supergroups seemed to be jumping on the Band-Aid wagon. Band-Aid was the collection of British pop stars who recorded "Do They Know It's Christmas" and inspired the "We Are the World" sessions. "Christmas" has raised more than $10 million for Ethiopian famine relief.
In Nashville, about 50 of the country's top gospel singers were set to record a Christian song and video to raise money for famine victims in Africa after last night's Dove Awards ceremony. The song, "Do Something Now," will feature Amy Grant, Sandi Patti, the Imperials, the 2nd Chapter of Acts, Doug Oldham, Phil Driscoll, Al Green, Russ Taff and the Gaithers. Country-pop singer Charlie Daniels also has agreed to participate. The group recording the song will be known as the Cause, which stands for Christian Artists United to Save the Earth.
"The message of the song is we need to do something now," said Bob Angelotti, director of publicity and special markets for Sparrow Records of Chatsworth, Calif., which will distribute the song.
"It is a call for action to those of us eager to use our faith to help people," he said. "It is a Christian representation of 'We Are the World.' "
Proceeds from the gospel record will go to Compassion International, a relief agency based in Colorado Springs, Angelotti said. The song will be released in about three weeks.
Meanwhile, 62 Latin music superstars, including Julio Iglesias, Jose Feliciano and Sergio Mendes, are scheduled to record another famine relief song next week. Hermanos del Tercer Mundo, or Brothers of the Third World, will gather on Tuesday in the same A&M Records studio where "We Are the World" was recorded in January.
The Hermanos group will donate half the proceeds from the sale of the Spanish-language single, album and related products such as T-shirts to the USA for Africa foundation. The remaining 50 percent will go to impoverished Latin American countries.
The still untitled Latin song and album, produced by Albert Hammond and Jose Quintana, will be distributed by A&M Records, which is partly owned by entertainer Herb Alpert.
Singers on the single include Iglesias, Feliciano, Mendes, Alpert, Basilio Miguel Bose, Miguel Cancel, Roberto Carlos, Maria Conchita, Guillermo Davila, Placido Domingo, Emmanuel Sergio Facheli, Miguel Gallardo, Lucho Gatica, Lani Hall, Antonio de Jesus, Jose Jose, Valaria Lynch, Lucia Mendez, Menudo, Amanda Miguel, Miami Sound Machine, Palito Ortega, Pimpinela, Miguel Rios, Danni Rivera, Jose Luis Rodriguez, Diego Verdaguer and Yuri.
The record will be produced by Hammond, Quintana and Grammy winner Humberto Gatica, one of the engineers for the "We Are the World" single. Lalo Schifrin, an Oscar-winning conductor, arranger and composer, will supervise the song's instrumental performance. Vocal arrangements will be written by Juan Carlos Calderon. And veteran producer Jerry Kramer will videotape the recording session for a TV video.
Also this week, a reggae recording called "Land of Africa" and featuring more than a dozen singers will soon be released in the United States. The local RAS reggae label will handle distribution for the record, which features Gregory Issaacs, Mutubaruka, David Hinds, Freddie McGreggor, Bunny Rugs, I-Threes, Edi Fitzroi and Triston Palma.
In Ireland, a group of Irish folk and rock stars has banded together, and a collection of British heavy-metal stars has recorded "Bang Your Head for Africa." A Two-Tone single, "Starvation," features members drawn from Britain's popular ska bands. Olivia Newton-John is putting together an Australian superchorus, and there are also Belgian, German and Africans-in-Paris recordings in the works.
On Monday, Columbia released the "We Are the World" album, featuring the single and nine other songs by American superstars. The record turned gold (sales of 500,000 copies) on the first day of its release.