FM Radio

Requiem For A Radio Station

As one of those Luddites who still has not gotten on the streaming bandwagon, I still care about what happens in the radio industry.  And before you think otherwise, I am not even talking about that new-fangled satellite radio, but terrestrial FM radio.  Part of this may be the result of sentimentality, due to my years in the industry working as a DJ and music director, but this is mainly because FM radio is still a consistent part of my daily life.  Whenever I drive anywhere, my first instinct is to switch on the radio, fiddle through my presets, and then put the car in gear as the appropriate soundtrack for the journey plays.  There is a CD loaded into the stereo for backup, but mainly my interest is in hearing a mix of songs that either are not in my collection already or would not immediately come to mind for me to select.  I have enough trouble selecting an album for every jog and trip to the gym, so it is a welcome relief to not have another situation where I need to shuffle through my extensive musical library.

One of the few perks of living in Salem is that while we are in the middle of nowhere, we are within driving distance in all directions of somewhere.  In this particular case, we are smack-dab in the middle of both the larger Portland and Eugene markets, which means that as I drive around town I can choose between two sets of radio stations.  Even within just a smaller spectrum of alternative/rock radio, this meant at least four stations from which to choose.  However, that number is slowly dwindling.

Recently, KFLY in Eugene abruptly switched formats, from a hard-rock playlist to a…I have no fucking clue, the robot programmer has decided to not give a shit about genre and just play whatever is available.  The worst part about the situation is the way the corporate overlords handled the situation, as they simply fired the entire staff of KFLY without warning.  For two weeks, listeners had no idea about the behind-the-scenes drama, as KFLY simply played reruns of old shows, a common tactic during the summer.  This situation is reminiscent of another recent incident, when KUFO in Portland was converted from a hard-rock station into an right-wing all-talk station, with a lineup of only nationally-syndicated shows.  At least we have the small consolation that KFLY is still playing music.

However, neither of these situations compare to the first time I encountered a format change.  When I was a young kid growing up in Louisiana, my favorite radio station was an alternative rock station called “The Tiger”.  Listening to The Tiger was an essential part of my morning routine, as well as the soundtrack to homework in the afternoon.  I remember one morning when I turned the radio on after taking a shower, only to hear the familiar strains of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” coming through my speakers.  Sure, this was strange, but The Tiger had done promotions before where they would play whatever song people would want for a fee to be donated to charity, so my first assumption was that they were in the middle of conducting another charity drive.  I had to leave for school before the song finished, so I could not confirm my suspicion.  However, when I returned from school that afternoon, The Tiger was playing another classic rock song.  The same with the next day, the day after, and every week until I left town.  I was heartbroken; it was almost as if a good friend had left without saying goodbye.

I still fucking hate Led Zeppelin to this day.

Over the Weekend (Apr. 20 Edition)

News, new music, and other fun stuff as you celebrate today’s “holiday”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had its induction ceremony this past weekend, and while we won’t be able to see the concert for a couple of months, bits of news have been floating around and low-quality video of some of the performances have surfaced.  The various performances for Lou Reed’s induction are probably the most intriguing, with Beck performing “Satellite of Love” and Karen O with bandmate Nick Zinner taking a stab at “Vicious”.  Of course, no story that mentions the Hall would be complete without mentioning the countless times the committee has failed, so after reading about the specifics of the induction process enjoy a slideshow that argues for the inclusion of 40 other artists.

We are excited for the release of Built to Spill’s latest album, Untethered Moon, tomorrow, and to help our readers get in the mood, we are sharing Consequence of Sound’s 10 song summation of the band as well as the group’s latest video for “Never Be The Same”, a sequel of sorts to the previous “Living Zoo”.

The sight of goofy old people dancing is always fun, which is why it was also the basis for another recent video, “Lonesome Street” from Blur.

Fucked Up has released the B-Side to their yearly EP release based on the Chinese Zodiac, with Pitchfork providing the stream.  Year of the Hare will be released on June 16, but you can listen to “California Cold” now.

We usually do not discuss press releases from the Norway Ministry of Culture, but their announcement over the weekend that the country will shut down FM radio stations in the next two years caught our attention.  Some of my fondest memories are from my time working at a small FM alternative station, so in spite of the fact that in the specific case of Norway this seems to be a smart way to move forward (the fact that they only have five stations as a nation as well as the prevalence of Digital Audio Broadcasting channels seems like it will not be a particularly disruptive shift), it is still jarring to read.  Let us hope that they come up with a way to update all those car stereos before the change is fully implemented.