Music to my ears

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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22 Responses

  1. Avatar Benjamin says:

    So, blogger, what’s to stop you, or someone like you, from starting an internet radio station?Report

  2. Avatar Rufus says:

    I think it’s more that they play the hell out of the single that the label wants to turn into a hit and is willing to pay to get on the air in one way or another. The ‘payola’ that killed Alan Freed’s career is now standard as I understand it. The DJs get handed playlists for their shift and have to stick to them. And then you have the Jack FM stations that don’t even have local DJs. So, you’re stuck with garbage like Nickelback if you listen to the radio in most places. It’s amazing to what degree most radio broadcasters are willing to insult their loyal listeners by boneheaded format changes.

    I did like satellite radio when I had it because they seem to be able to play whatever they want. But that’s sort of the antithesis of local. And I’ve been really impressed by some of the podcasts I’ve heard.Report

    • Avatar Rufus says:

      @Rufus, Oh yeah- the Magic 98 is okay, but not as good as the Edge 96. But I really like the Rock 99- they’ve got Beemer and the Weez in the morning.Report

      • Avatar Rufus says:

        @Rufus, and that was actually a response to Jaybird… who you can hear live on the Jaybird and Ken morning show! This week, your craziest stunt can win YOU Aerosmith tickets!Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          @Rufus, that’s how I started listening to NPR in the mornings.

          When you listen to K-Rock (motto: “K-Rock Rocks”) in the morning, you tend to get idiots who make jokes about “breasteses”. I was flipping between idiot tag teams and caught a snippet of “turmoil in the Middle East today, as a bomb went off in Tel Aviv. Our correspondent has more” and then some dude started talking about the Middle East. And, after that, Europe. And, after that, how the Dow Jones market was doing.

          And I flipped back and the tag team idiots were still talking about breasteses. They are probably talking about breasteses right now.

          (Of course, it’s not like NPR has stopped talking about the Middle East, Europe, and the Dow Jones but it feels fresh and new every time and, sometimes, there are surprises.)Report

  3. Avatar Ian M. says:

    Erik, most stations are owned by corporations, and most DJs have little control over their playlist. Your best bet is the local college stations.Report

    • Avatar Todd Crouse says:

      @Ian M.,
      not only that, but most major city’s entire FM spectrum are owned by only two or three national media corporations (Clearchannel being the most prolific). Those media corporations have developed standard playlists for a few different types of genres, and every city gets the same cookie cutter formats.
      The Telecommunications act of 1996 is largely to blame.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    You could always write, record and play your own music.Report

  5. Avatar Lisa Kramer says:

    Are you going to clue us in to this fantastic local musician you discovered?Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The Olive Gardenization of radio is disappointing to some degree.

    You know that Magic 98 in Tampa is pretty much identical to Magic 98 in Brooklyn is pretty much identical to Magic 98 in Chicago is pretty much identical to Magic 98 in San Diego. That said, the soup, salad, and breadsticks deal is awesome.

    If I were you, I’d try to go down to the low end of the dial and find the college stations. KEPC here in the Springs has student DJs playing songs that, surprisingly, I haven’t necessarily heard before. Sometimes the songs are even so good as to make me buy an album or three. (For example, KEPC introduced me to 1997, Dead Can Dance, Apocolyptica, Chemical Brothers, and all sorts of bands… I started listening to them in the early 90’s and haven’t stopped.)

    I don’t know about where you live but, if you’re lucky, you’ve got a college station in your town. Give that one a spin.Report

  7. Avatar Rufus says:

    I wonder if we couldn’t do mix tape podcasts here…Report

    • Avatar Cascadian says:

      @Rufus, There you go. I was just thinking of your Friday Jukebox. Have folk post links or maybe even you tubes of local talent they’ve found. A musical view from your window.Report

  8. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    Great post E.D.
    I’m sitting hear listening to a classic CD put together by my pal, Steve Creaturo, from beautiful Wellsville, Ohio. The sounds selected are classic and rare R&B from the 50’s and 60’s which was the only sound we listened to as kids here in the upper Ohio Valley. That’s why the White kids from that place and that era, to this day, still have rhythm and disdain the modern bullshit that passes for ‘rhythm.’
    My classic cd, contains for example:
    Oh No not my Baby
    Looking for an Echo
    What kinda fool
    Hurt
    Ooh Poo Pa do
    Oh My Angel
    Twine Time
    Wiggle Wobble
    Let my know if you guys want a personal cd from Steve, the price is $20/cd.Report

  9. Avatar Paul B says:

    I hope the League won’t consider it spamming to give a shout-out to my radio station, WKCR in New York. Community-oriented, listener-supported, student/alumni-run, — it’s awesome, and you can stream it on the web.

    I do a jazz show, but we’ve got pretty much anything else you can find on the NYC scene: country, blues, all sorts of world music, classical and avant-garde stuff, etc. No rock though, and not much doo-wop.Report

  10. Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

    I second college radio stations, if you live in a university town. Unfortunately, the wattage is usually low, so the range is limited. KXLU doesn’t throw up enough juice to cross the LA basin to Pasadena, with all the RF interference around here.

    I almost never listen to commercial radio anymore. Set playlists, ugh.Report

  11. Avatar trizzlor says:

    I think radio DJs should be more like bloggers and the radio industry should be more like the internet.

    … and yet internet radio is available and hasn’t taken off nearly as well as blogging. I think part of the problem is actually too much choice. I listen to tons of music at my computer, including podcasts from conventional shows like This American Life, but I don’t even know where to start with internet-only radio.

    It seems like the parallel holds to blogging; while there are likely millions of political bloggers, one really only sees a total of 50 or so authors within a kind of inner-circle of frequently linked bloggers that all cross-reference each other and maintain a community. This is why something like the “epistemic closure” debate was able to spread so rapidly – with a truly egalitarian blogosphere that would be impossible. Take The Atlantic, The Daily Best, True/Slant, The Corner and a few think tanks and you’ve probably got 90% of blogging readership.

    Borrowing that system, perhaps if internet radio had something like memeorandum to welcome the uninitiated, and DJs also made a habit of interacting or commenting within their community, internet radio would appear more closely-knit and valuable than a high-school kid streaming his favorite playlist.Report

  12. Avatar JosephFM says:

    Twenty years ago
    No one seemed to care
    The people must have known
    The DJ’s role is only there to fill in space between the songs
    To talk of love and other things
    As if it didn’t matter

    Automatic stations came
    And sent them all away
    And now I’m left alone
    I haven’t got a word to say
    And you’re the one who makes the choice
    To turn me on or turn me off
    But now it really matters

    The Human League – “WXJL Tonight” – one of my favorite songs ever.Report