INDIANAPOLIS — Growing up in Indianapolis during the 1960s and '70s, David Fulton, like many others, loved listening to local rock radio.
"Radio was kind of your lifeline to what the world was like," he said. "If there was anything happening from a news standpoint, you heard it first on the radio. Same with music. The personalities driving this became all the more important in our lives."
Fulton celebrates that era with his documentary "Naptown Rock Radio Wars." He started work on the film more than five years ago. It was conceived by his company, Videopolis.tv, along with Al Stone, an original program director at WNAP when station first signed on the air in July 1968.
"I was looking for an interesting project to do, and he had the connections," Fulton said of Stone. "We both had a mutual interest in old rock-and-roll radio here in town."
They'll be on hand when "Naptown Rock Radio Wars" is screened at 2 p.m. April 20 at the Indianapolis Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St. Admission is free and open to the public.
Afterwards, DJs depicted in the documentary will participate in a panel discussion. They include Stone and Steve "Fast Freddie Fever" Reynolds and Cris Conner, also from WNAP, and Reb Porter from WIFE, which first came on the air in 1963. Those stations constituted the main rivalry shown in the film.
Ann Craig, who worked for both stations at one time, will also be on the panel.
"Those are people who were right in the trenches," said Fulton, who will also be on the panel. "It's a rare opportunity to have all of them in the same room at the same time."
Other features of the library event include a "name that tune" contest of '60s and '70s songs and a "hit that post" competition in which participants talk over a song's intro like real radio DJs. Dr. Spin, billed as the world's only all-vinyl DJ, will provide music throughout the event.
"This has really been a labor of love for me because it's been an opportunity for me to meet a lot of people that were my idols when I was growing up," Fulton said of his documentary. He notes the film is not just about the rise of rock radio but its decline too. "The '60s and '70s were really the heyday of the art form. The personalities were king on the radio back then. It'd be like having Tom Cruise come to your local auto dealership to try and sell cars for them."
Fulton, 56, doesn't think it's possible to return to a time like this, for multiple reasons. That makes the nostalgia for it all the more acute.
"There are too many entertainment choices (now)," Fulton said. "We didn't have video games back then, Pandora, any of that stuff. It was a unique period. With the exception of a handful of Bob and Toms, radio has now become really corporate- and focus group-driven. It doesn't really have the edge it used to have."
For more information on the screening of the documentary and panel discussion, call the library at 275-4099.