Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Scanning the Dial...

A couple of months ago, I finally got high-speed internet hooked back up at home after a long overdue absence. Since that time, I've been listening to nothing but a non-stop diet of, KCRW and KEXP. (for some reason, I especially seem to be in a KCRW phase lately) I hadn't hardly listened to any local radio at all until last week when I jumped into the car for a long 4th of July weekend road trip. Here's some observations from my recent scanning through the local radio dial: 1. Q-101 has finally seen the light They're still advertising themselves as "on shuffle," but they've pumped the classic alternative song quota waaaaaay up just as I ranted that they needed to when they first launched their new expanded playlist back in April. Jumping through my radio presets on the way out of town, I noticed that I kept landing on great tracks on Q-101. So, this week I tuned in at work for an extended listen to see if it was just some lucky channel surfing or if they had actually made some improvements to the playlist. Much to my surprise, the station is really sounding a lot better. Rather than just throwing in a random old school track in-between P.O.D. and Staind, they're actually playing 2, 3 or more classics in a row now, with new songs dropped in that actually blend in well with the old stuff. (hmmm...carefully coordinating your radio station's playlist so that the music flows well and people will want to listen longer. What a brilliant concept!!!) Speaking of P.O.D., it also seems like the aggro rawk and nu-metal has been toned down, thus seriously reducing my urge to turn the station off. It's still far from perfect, but I think I could actually deem it as "listenable" now...a huge jump from "annoying" just 3 months ago and "completely obnoxious" just 6 months ago. It's still not my first choice, but if you're stuck somewhere without Internet or a CD player, 101.1 FM is actually worth punching in to your radio presets again. (at least for the time being...knowing commercial radio, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they go a different direction again next month, or even drop the rock format completely by the end of the year) 2. Jack FM (104.3) is the worst station, ever! Oh my god!!! This station represents everything that is wrong with commercial radio today. No personality (literally, the station does not have any DJs...just a pre-programmed music database with commercials and pre-produced station IDs. I don't think they even bother to insert local weather and traffic updates) , cliched music (think Lite FM combined with the jukebox at a cheesy Rush St. bar) and tons of commercials. Jack FM is nothing but a homogonized and automated juke box that serves as a giant cash cow for corporate radio owners. The McDonald's at the end of your block has more local flair than this station. Making matters worse is that Jack FM replaced the beloved "Oldies/Magic 104.3" station that featured such legendary Chicago personalities as Dick Biondi and Fred Winston. Fortunately for Biondi and Winston, they are still under contract with station owner Infinity Broadcasting, which means they are still getting paid even though they are no longer on the air. However, listeners to the old Oldies 104.3 are pissed and you can't blame them one bit. Their favorite station and DJs have been replaced by a giant, money hungry robot. Infinity claims they will be bringing back the old station and its DJs very soon as a HD subchannel on 104.3...but 1. How many people have HD radios today, let alone know what the hell it is?? and 2. Of all formats they could have chosen, they're expecting oldies listeners to adapt to new technology?? 3. Jack FM makes Nine FM sound brilliant I pretty much slamed this station when it debuted last summer, but compared to Jack FM, I guess "Nine" isn't so bad. With its "we play anything" motto, Nine FM was modeled somewhat after the Jack FM concept of a station that boasts an extra-large playlist of music from a wide variety of genres. While it's still not my cup of tea, Nine FM does seem to actually deliver upon this promise. On the other hand, Jack FM is just a collection of the most overplayed and cliched songs from the past 25 years. Most of all, with live DJs, news and traffic reports Nine FM actually sounds like a radio station. Jack FM sounds like a pre-recorded music loop that was stolen from the local TGI Friday's. 4. Did I mention I despise Jack FM? It's our generation's elevator music.


Anonymous Bill V said...

I can't agree with you regarding Q101. When I listened a couple of months ago it was terrible. If you enjoy some of the older songs, try WOXY Vintage. It's playlist is based on the History of Modern Rock. This morning's playlist included Connells, The The, Pixies, Galaxie 500 and Circle Jerks.

7/14/2005 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right. Jack FM SUCKS! I really liked the oldies station, but I could have gotten used to what people are now calling "the new oldies" (80's music). But Jack FM doesn't even play the obvious crowd pleasers. And their station promos are embarassingly stupid. What were they thinking?

8/18/2005 08:03:00 AM  

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