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Off the Clock: Bill Algee and the Ages of Rock Podcast

By Matt Skoufalos

Bill Algee and his son, Alex, met Gene Simmons in Chicago on November 9, 2009 through A&E connections.

Since joining the Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) in 1998, Bill Algee, CRA, FAHRA, has contributed to the organization at the directorship level, as a volunteer with its education foundation, and as a past president. That’s in addition to his day-to-day responsibilities as the director of imaging services at Columbus Regional Hospital in Columbus, Indiana.

Behind the scenes, however, the soundtrack to this accomplished career has always been rock ’n’ roll. In 2015, Algee and a pair of his friends and fellow music lovers dedicated themselves to the genre through a podcast they christened “Ages of Rock.” Four years later, the trio is closing in on its 200th episode; along the way, they’ve experienced a number of meaningful moments with the artists whose work matters the most to them.

At the top of that list is the band KISS. The Detroit rockers formed the bridge between Algee and co-host Allen Tate. Algee introduced Tate to their third compatriot, his longtime friend Dennis Talbott, at a Judas Priest concert in 2015. Despite being separated by some 200 miles, with Algee in Indianapolis, and Tate and Talbott in Evansville, Indiana, they’ve built a rapport over Skype with each other and with some of their favorite musicians.

Through it all, however, “KISS is our common thread,” Algee said. He’s followed the band since he was 10 years old, and saw them in concert for the first time at age 12. The date was January 23, 1978, on the Alive II tour; in the time since, Algee has 45 KISS concerts under his belt. It’s the kind of a starting point for conversations about rock ’n’ roll fandom from which “Ages of Rock” takes off.

“Our theory about the podcast has always been three guys in a bar having some drinks and chatting,” Algee said. “Unlike other podcasts, it’s never scripted, and we do not edit anything unless it’s a technical issue. We just get on the phone, get on Skype, and see where it takes us. Sometimes it’s a rabbit hole, but for the most part it’s been great.”

“Ages of Rock” is definitely geared to a 1980s, arena-rock audience. Guests have included Michael Sweet of Stryper, Mark Slaughter of Slaughter, Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake, and Orianthi Panagaris of RSO and Alice Cooper. Although many of those performers are decades removed from the projects for which they’re best known, they have plenty of stories from the heights of their fame. Furthermore, many still tour and record new music, and when they’re making the rounds to promote their work, “Ages of Rock” is a friendly vehicle through which to connect with their fans.

“The reason we all do it is because it’s not work,” Algee said. “It’s strictly downtime and figuring out if we can get somebody on the show. When you’re a small podcast, it’s hard sometimes. You never know when somebody’s going to say yes and you never know when somebody’s going to say no.”

If anything, the podcast has shown its hosts that perseverance is critical in landing their most coveted interviews. Algee clearly remembers the feeling when he booked Jeff Pilson, the bassist from Dokken and the current bassist and musical director of Foreigner.

“I’m sitting at an event with my son in high school, and I got a message from Jeff Pilson,” Algee said. “It said, ‘I heard about your show, and I’d love to do it.’ I screamed and ran out the door. We try to not have those fanboy moments on the show, but it was really cool.”

“I’ve always admired [Pilson],” Algee said. “He’s produced and written for a ton of people. He’s so dynamic.”

The Pilson interview turned out to be one of Algee’s favorite episodes of the show, leading to a repeat visit from the bassist, while also opening the doors for a subsequent interview with Mark Kendall of Great White.

“[Kendall] said he hooked up with us because he heard our Jeff Pilson interview, and he liked how it was so relaxed,” Algee said. “I don’t think we’ve had anybody on the show who’s been a diva; everyone’s been nice.”

Amid the success he’s enjoyed thus far, Algee still has a lengthy wishlist of potential guests. They include Bruce Kulick of KISS and Grand Funk Railroad, Robb Halford of Judas Priest – and, of course, Gene Simmons of KISS.

In addition to meeting some of the artists behind his favorite bands of all time, “Ages of Rock” has given Algee a chance to experience new music from artists he’d never otherwise have met. At the annual RocknPod convention of music podcasters in Nashville, Tennessee, the hosts got to experience the country music capital of the United States as taken over by “a bunch of metalheads,” he said.

Left to right, Dennis Talbott, Allen Tate and Bill Algee are the hosts of the Ages of Rock podcast.

It’s where Algee met Thee Rock N Roll Residency, a supergroup of rockers who hosts a weekly concert featuring a rotating stable of touring guests. (And yes, they’ve got a KISS connection: Thee Residency has backed both Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons’ solo tours.)

After four years, Algee’s also learned that the world of rock music is a community. Most of the performers have encountered one another, or are familiar with one another’s work. Most of them still struggle to get paid for the work that they do. And those common threads have led to “some really good conversations,” he said. Tamping down “the fanboy moments” and remembering that “the men and women on the show are just people and they just want to be treated like people” has been critical to the success of the podcast, Algee said.

“Most of them don’t want that whole superstar thing,” he said. “I’ve always kind of put them on a different pedestal from everybody else, but when you do get to meet them, they’re just people, and that’s how they want to get treated.”

If you haven’t checked out “Ages of Rock” before, Algee recommends a handful of his favorite episodes to get you started. He noted that the conversation tends to be freewheeling and unscripted, and the language that follows from it isn’t for everyone. A few suggest highlights, that can be found at agesofrock.com, are:

Episode 124 – Mark Kendall of Great White
Episode 155 – Jeff Pilson of Dokken and Foreigner
Episode 171 – Orianthi Panagaris of RSO and Alice Cooper
Episode 186 – Strip Club Songs with Aaron Camaro of Decibel Geek

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