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Monday, April 21, 2008

Repetition Killed the Radio Star

I hate radio. Let me state that again. I HATE RADIO. It's nothing personal against the recording artists, although I think there is too much sampling and covering of good music out there. I'm more pissed at the big radio conglomerates that get away with putting crap on the radio and then repeating it again an hour later. Growing up in Southwestern Pennsylvania, we had maybe three stations that we listened to. There was your classic rock station, WDVE 102.5 FM. There was the local AM station, WCVI 1340 AM, a haven for my Paul Harvey and Tradio fix, and lastly, there was the mountain top broadcaster WLSW 103.9 FM which played middle of the road popular music. Of these three stations, I still listen to one. Can you guess which? If you've read any of my past entries and answered the classic rock station then you get the gold star.

I can rely on classic rock. I know what I'm going to find on that station. WCVI is no longer around and WLSW is not what it used to be. DVE is still the home for classic rock and other stations have come and gone in terms of format while this fixture in Pittsburgh has thrived. That's not to say we don't have other stations in the area. During the early to mid 80's a top 40 juggernaut came on the scene. WBZZ 93.7 FM quickly became a favorite in the area for its music and morning show. But do to changing times they switched formats, fired the disc jockey's and tried to pull in the big names like Howard Stern to fill in the morning hours. Money begets evil. I stopped listening to B94 as we called it in the area when they started playing the same music as two other stations in the area because they constantly recycled music.

Now, as a kid, I can remember being in my room with fingers at the ready to record my favorite songs on a mix tape. Most tapes in my dusty archives still have lead ins or outros from the DJ's of old. In fact, to show how much of a dork I was, I took a cassette tape and had it ready to record Bryan Adams, "Everything I Do," whenever it came on the radio. I had about five back to back recordings in a row on one tape. I was a big Bryan Adams fan and had just seen Robin Hood in the theaters and was stuck on that song. Of course, then I got into CDs and I bought the soundtrack and did not require the need for five consecutive tapings of the rock ballad.

You would think with my interest in that one song that I wouldn't mind repetition on the radio? I would welcome it. Unfortunately, either my age or the lack of good songs out there proves otherwise, as I only listen to the radio on my way to work. On the way home it's a crap shoot. I like DVE but sometimes, I just want a change. Otherwise, I fire up the iPod, listen to NPR for news, or just drive home in silence. There for awhile, B94 had switched to an all talk format called the ZONE with Dennis Miller on during lunch and a local icon, Scott Paulsen, on during the ride home. It was a failed experiment and of course I would like it because it was meant to fail. On the weekends I tune in to Cigar Dave, not because I was some big cigar aficionado, but it was fun to learn a thing or two about something I had no knowledge of while driving around. After the station folded, once again, the owners decided to return to their roots. During the summer of 2007 they played about a week's worth of Christmas music and then unveiled their, "Christmas" present. Sprinkled throughout the holiday tunes were hints and riddles that something that been missing from Pittsburgh would be returning. Seeing as how every other format had failed, I could only imagine one thing, the return of B94. My enthusiasm was overwhelming, much like my sarcasm. Why did we think this time around would be any different? What could they offer Pittsburgh, now, that they could not or would not before?

As far as I'm concerned, after listening for the last six months, the NEW B94 sounds a lot like the old B94. I don't mean that in a good way. If I did, I would have said it sounded like the "Good Old B94." For now, it still plays the same rotation of about six songs, and in my opinion, they all suck. I guess if I expected it to be like the good old days, they'd play music from then. In that case, I should be listening to the variety stations that play music from previous decades. This begs another question? What will happen to the oldies station, WWSW 94.5 FM, when the oldies they play stat catching up to the variety that the other stations play? Will there be a format change? These are the things I think about at 3 AM when the power goes out. Where was I? Oh yeah, crap. My wife listens to these hit music stations that play the six pack of crap and when we are in her car, she has the dial control. It just twists my knob when we drive somewhere and I hear song "A" and then when we finish our errand and get back in the car to return home, song "A" is playing again on the radio.

Where does the problem lie? Is it the DJ's or the Producers' fault for the repetition? I believe it is the producers who bow down to the lowest common denominator and play the popular stuff to bookend the commercials that pay their salaries. Otherwise, they'd expand the playlist a little more and give us a better variety of crap. Until that happens, I'm content listening to the voices in my head while I make my way home in the afternoon. Yeah, it gets a little repetitious, but I like the artist.


Remember these little weird things when driving?

  1. Back in the days when stations couldn't broadcast through the tunnels in Pittsburgh we used to play a game where we'd enter the tunnel and continue to sing the song until we reached the other side to see if we could sync up the words.

  2. There were times when one of the popular songs was playing on the radio you could switch to the other Top 40 station and have the same song playing from the same spot.

  3. You always hit that one station while it played your favorite song, but it was ten seconds from the end. I hated that.

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