Friday, January 22, 2010

Why I won't shed a tear when Radio dies.

Last week, a Constant Listener made a request for a song that I no longer had on my laptop. Due to limited hard drive capacity, some songs were sacrificed in exchange for more space. The song in question was a metal cover by Pat Boone, which I confessed was not something I particularly enjoyed. Constant Listener made an excellent point that our radio show isn’t necessarily about me playing songs that I like. It’s my duty as a DJ to provide listeners with new music, varied genres and avoid repeats when possible. My hope is that listeners will at least be turned on to a handful of new songs and get a good laugh or two. Radio programming that relies on repeats and boring DJ banter is worse than no radio at all.
Granted, there are a lot of songs (MC Chris material, for example) that are requested frequently, which means the High-Pitched One will get played more than once or twice a month. I am willing to make that concession to fans but I am against constant repeats, for that makes the show predictable and unexciting. Our podcasting has made me even more diligent than before when it comes to artist and song repeats, for there’s proof of it out on the intarwebs now! WIDR is about providing listeners with a wider variety, after all (pun intended). I appreciate call-ins; many of our listeners turn us on to good music as well. That said, we had requests for Weezer and Green Day last week. I made the comment to my co-DJ that we were not WGRD. Weezer and Green Day may be on soundtracks, yes, but their popularity overcomes any likelihood that we would play them on The LAN Party.
Coincidentally, I caught a 20-minute slice of WGRD’s weekday evening show, Dahmer After Dark (airdate 1/18/10). His personality comes off as completely unappealing and fabricated. He read from an article about the three worst Facebook status updates that a person could make. One of them was making an update about your last bowel movement. Dahmer proceeded to make an unfunny joke about bowel movements and then encouraged listeners to become a fan of his show on Facebook. Or not. He didn’t “give a crap.” Whoop, better make that two unfunny jokes about bowel movements! Har har har!
The three songs that played in the block I listened to were “Break” by Three Days Grace, “Sweet child o’ mine” by Guns N Roses, and “In the end” by Linkin Park. Not only did Dahmer manage not to list song names (instead only listing the artist) but completely eschewed all proper description of Guns N Roses, instead referring to the song only as “a GNR classic!” Where’s the professionalism? (I understand that most radio listeners are familiar with Guns N Roses and the GNR nickname by now; the band probably does not need much of an introduction. Additionally Sweet child o’ mine is a perfect example of an overplayed song.)
I was offended by this brush off style of DJ’ing as well as the choice of music. The Guns N Roses song was the least bland of all three as well as the most dated, signifying something was seriously wrong with this radio station. This prompted a look at their day’s playlist when I arrived home. I was rather horrified to see that Metallica was played eleven times over the space of the day. That’s nearly once every two hours!

Take a look at the number of plays the following bands get in 24 hours:

Metallica – 11 (no repeats, but all singles.)
Linkin Park – 10 (the song “New divide” played 4 times)
Alice in Chains – 9 (two of their songs were played more than once)
Breaking Benjamin – 8
Chevelle – 7 (not only is “Jars” played four times, but Chevelle was also played twice within one hour)
Nirvana – 7 (“Come as you are” played twice)
Guns N Roses – 6
Three Days grace – 6
Kid Rock - 6
Puddle of Mudd – 5
Foo Fighters – 5
Stone temple pilots – 5
Pearl Jam - 5
Papa Roach - 5
Nickelback – 4
Shinedown - 4
Red hot chili peppers – 4
Godsmack - 3
Beastie Boys - 3
Lenny Kravitz – 2
White zombie - 2

It is my opinion that nearly all of those bands are tripe and repeats make it worse. I am a bit of a music snob, I suppose, and a station that plays Metallica eleven times in the space of a day will not win my support. None of these bands are very thrilling, and I certainly wouldn’t want to hear them more than once a day. I am too much of an active listener to leave music in the background, and really bad programming like this forces me to actively hate when I become aware of it.
The above list is not complete, merely the ones I was able to catch. (Hey kids, can you catch them all? That’d crack me up!) Of the approximately 234 songs played over the course of the day, at least 117 of these songs were by repeat artists. That means half the playlist could have been new material if the DJs had simply played artists that hadn’t yet been played that day. To say nothing of the quality of the music being played, this is deplorable. Radio complacency. It is no wonder modern radio is a becoming more and more neglected. This type of lazy broadcasting is an insult to the intelligence of the listener.
I understand that there are a percentage of radio listeners that tune in for their favorites but I am of the opinion that any station format other than “strictly the oldies” should be introducing new music into the mix when possible. Turning listeners on to new music benefits all involved. Listener loyalties as well as increased attention to the new artists both serve the radio station. There is no downside to introducing new music, and playing repeats all day offers myriad, boring downsides. Maybe I am such a music elitist turd that I am out of touch with the casual radio listener these days. It’s certainly possible. But I am no more of a turd than the person who subjects listeners to endless repeat artists. The playlists are no better then the commercials. This programming is doing listeners a disservice by not exposing them to new music (of any type).
There is literally half a day’s worth of opportunities within that playlist to throw in new songs!
If there are bands other than Pop Evil on their playlist that are local, please inform me. I was surprised to see a local band on the list at all, but Pop Evil conveniently fits right into the format of WGRD (which would be awful music). There are too many local and national acts that are much more interesting and deserving of airtime than repeating singles all day.
It is not my intention to convince any of you to listen to my radio show, or to WIDR at all. To WIDR’s credit, the rotation features constant changes in genre and specialty show. This is more of a service than non-independent radio stations are doing for you. Even if I wasn’t a DJ, I would still urge you to stop listening to bad radio and instead seek out music that stimulates you. If you’re anything more than a passive music fan, do yourself a favor and ask yourself if WGRD or any other station that relies on awful progamming is a station worthy enough to stop twisting your radio dial for. Ultimately, the choice is yours to make. Listen carefully.

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