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‘Worst to First: The True Story of Z100 New York’ review: Fun documentary only scratches surface

Something seems to be missing.

Worst to First: The True Story of Z100 New York is the story of how a tiny radio station in New Jersey became the biggest in New York. The documentary is filled with interviews from artists that got their start at the station. This includes a wide range as varied as Joan Jett and Debbie Gibson. A constant theme of the film is how difficult it was to break into the New York radio market. Along with musicians and DJs, Worst to First has appearances from New York personalities such as Geraldo Rivera.

It is a great idea that does not quite come across in execution. Since it barely runs over an hour, few of the subjects covered actually stick. As interesting as some of the stories are, things just move too quickly. Even the underdog story hinted at in the title does not leave an impression. Aside from a brief mention in the beginning, Worst to First does not mention ratings until a half hour later. At that point, it barely spends a few minutes talking about the improvement. It is an odd decision to say the least.

What makes this more noticeable is a lot of interesting topics are covered. The musicians that are in the film seem genuinely impressed by Scott Shannon (the person everyone says is responsible for the improvement at Z100) and the grassroots movement to take over the top spot is a precursor to viral movements of today (another topic that is briefly mentioned than immediately dropped). A more in depth look at how they became the number one radio station would have been nice to change.

Worst to First: The True Story of Z100 New York is a strange documentary. It is a rapid fire look at a very particular time in New York radio. There are some fun stories, but it seems to barely scratch the surface. Even archival footage by Madonna seems to be more about how big a star she was than anything Z100 did. The film teases a number of interesting stories, but unfortunately none of them are covered.

Worst to First: The True Story of Z100 New York comes to VOD February 11

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