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.

Catching Up On The Week (Nov. 28 Edition)

Some #longreads as you awaken from the Thanksgiving food coma…

We’re going to put the spotlight on Seattle this weekend, since we have multiple articles discussing the city’s place in music history.  First, Seattle Weekly talks to Bruce Pavitt, co-founder of the now-legendary independent label Sub Pop.  Next, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a profile of Dave Grohl as the Emerald City episode of his Sonic Highways is set to air.  And finally, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden talks to Loudwire about the band’s new rarities release Echo of Miles.

Seattle, though often grey, is still pretty.

Seattle, though often grey, is still pretty.

We’ve been enjoying the latest album from TV on the Radio these past couple of weeks, and before we unveil our official review on Tuesday, read up on the making of the new album with profiles in both the New York Times and Consequence of Sound.

The Atlantic has an article about how the internet helped spark a revival of interest in Nick Drake, far more than he had enjoyed in his brief life and career.  While we mentioned the seminal Volkswagen ad in our “Pink Moon” Covered feature, this piece helps fill in some additional interesting details.

In the past we’ve looked at different aspects of the streaming debate, mainly focusing our attention on Spotify and their payout model.  East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedys sheds some insight on another service we’ve neglected, YouTube, showing how the company pays even less to artists than its competitors.

Though he’s mainly known for the off-center comedic empire he’s built with partner Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim has had a successful side-gig as a director of music videos.  The AV Club interviews Eric for its Random Reels feature, and he sheds insights on such videos as the frightening “We Are Water” video he did for HEALTH (and cited in our Scariest Videos list) as well as the weirdly gorgeous “Wishes” video from Beach House.

And finally, Pitchfork has multiple articles worth checking out this weekend.  Be sure to read this pleasant interview with Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, then check out this analysis of the importance of Top 40 radio and the significance of different genre stations.  And finally, proving that the publication actually has a sense of humor, here’s “The Most Crucial And Yet Totally Overlooked Releases of 2014 and a Pre-Emptive Guide to 2015.”