Old man laments old music

Want to know how slow the past couple weeks have been? In Fitzy’s column last Friday he lamented something that anybody who’s even driven through Stockton knows, our radio stations blow. Naturally, he completely fucks up the argument.

For one, he makes it seem like every station here plays fucking Classic Rock, only one does (The Hawk, 96.9 The Eagle comes in if you’re lucky). And while they can be repetitive, it’s better than listening to the same 3 songs that spew out of KWIN everyday (and don’t even get me started on minion of Satan KJOY).

Fitz also breaks down the recent local format changes which happen in radio all the time. Sure, KWOD becoming “The Buzz” blows, but KWOD hadn’t been anything resembling a decent radio station in years (I blame “nu metal”).

Look, we know radio. All of us dabbled in it when we went to Delta (despite the fact that none of us knew when our respective shows actually aired) and we think we have a good handle on how the radio industry works, and while we understand and even empathize with Fitzy it’s still a problem that can’t be fixed. If you think newspapers are dying I’d like to introduce you to the slow, protracted death of radio.

Gone are the days when the top 40 songs and spun while some wacky DJ who worked his way up from spinning shit they liked on the night shift spouted off his shtick between songs. Now the night shift guy is a computer who plays whatever the algorithm tells them too. And that DJ? Yeah, he’s also the program manager and probably works in ad sales too (radio, like newspapers, isn’t where the media money is).

What happened? Well, a lot of things.The Arbitron ratings system used in radio is so horrifically antiquated I’m pretty sure the results are chiseled onto stone tablets Flintstones-style. Satellite radio didn’t help, they can swear after all. And, as we can attest to, that always makes things more entertaining. And then of course there’s that pesky internet fad.

The internet changed the way everybody consumed information, and it absolutely murdered radio the way TV was supposed to all those decades ago. All those fringe things that may have been slightly too important for TV (like, say, new bands/music), was covered by radio. To make me feel especially old, my youngest brother will ask me what life was like before the internet. The best story I can come up with was back in the mid-90s when the Sacramento City Council was considering a loan to then Kings owner Jim “I’m a total fucking asshole” Thomas. This was before the Kings posted a few good seasons and got every game on TV so the only outlets covering the hearing were the Sacramento Bee and Sac station KHTK. We huddled around the radio listening to a boring as shit city council meeting as Mayor Joe “I’m a total fucking hero/God” Serna debated whether or not loaning the Kings enough money to stay in town was worth it (thankfully, they decided it was).

Can you remember the last time anybody that wasn’t 100 huddled around the radio with baited breath? Nowadays I’d be reloading SactownRoyalty every 6 seconds while participating in the unending one-upmanship battle that defines the internet trying to come up with the most disgusting adjective to describe Jim Thomas.

How does this apply to local music getting on the radio? Well, we consume information differently now. I don’t go looking for new bands on the radio because I hate half the music that makes it onto the radio in the first place. If I want to hear new local bands there are like 50 billion websites I can go to places like MySpace, Facebook, or 209Vib…oh wait.

The point is, the reason local radio sucks so much is the same reason the local paper sucks so much. The way we consume the information they give us (whether it be news or new music) has changed and those outlets have to adapt. Young folk don’t sit around listening to the radio anymore outside of the quick drive to work because they have more, better choices now. Some goes for newspapers.

Radio decided it’s going to go after it’s most reliable customers, which is why we only have 1 station dedicated to new music (the venerable KWIN) amongst a vast sea of oldies stations. Old people are stubborn and stick with the old way more often than not. Does it suck? Oh you bet it sucks. It sucks hard, and that’s why radio stations are about as stable as my last girlfriend when she’s been drinking. They rolled over (radio stations, not my ex. Although on second thought…). If newspapers really want to avoid the indiscriminate scythe of media death, they better heed the warning of radio. Old people die, then who you gonna cater too? Until they figure that out, we’ll be stuck with the written version of Mega100.

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~ by El Duke on July 20, 2009.

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