I recently moved from Brooklyn out to the suburbs in Connecticut. Brooklyn has changed.
To borrow a phrase from classic rock schmaltz makers REO Speedwagon, it was time for me to fly.
I also recently procured a car. Turns out my father had an extra car after my mom passed away. Far be it from me to say no to some free wheels. But for a little perspective, I can sum up my new car with one word, cassette.
A 1999 Honda Civic with 145,000 miles is far from a babe magnet, but what the hell, it’s a ride! And when you’re rockin the ‘burbs, one must have wheels.
The only real problem with both the car and the ‘burbs is the radio. Oh, the radio works fine in the car (as does the super fine cassette player). It’s the radio station that is awful. Dreadful even. WPLR, apparently Connecticut’s #1 rock station (I’m guessing there isn’t too much competition) I’ve heard more Motley Crue in the past month than I have in the past ten years…and George Thorogood and Queen.
Close your eyes and think about the music you heard say…about 25 years ago. It’s like that.
Today’s AOR (Album Orientated Rock) or Classic Rock Radio is like the Phil Hartman sketch Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer (“You’re modern music confuses and frightens me but if I know one thing I know that playing anything by Led Zeppelin will be awesome.“).
The playlist sounds like a mix tape from 1993 (hint: that is not a compliment).
I love rock and roll, I do. And I have, however reluctantly, accepted that R.E.M., Pearl Jam and Nirvana now qualify as “classic rock”. And I can deal with the “Two for Tuesdays” and “Three for Thursdays” and the “get the Led out” and the endless requests to visit their fucking Facebook page and all the other shite the station thinks it needs to remain relevant. While I may find all of that stuff vacuous I can understand that this is now part of the process, the branding.
Hell, I’ve even come to accept that the month of October is, all but officially, Rocktober (Gregorian calendar updates are coming).
But WPLR has jumped the shark, or in this case, tipped the cow with this month naming deal. There was the aforementioned Rocktober, November (I forget what that was, I’ve no doubt it was idiotic) and then there was….AC/…wait for it…AC/DECEMBER. Obviously named in honor of, and to celebrate, the rockers from down under, which is always welcomed.
But that name? Good Christ!
And now? NOW?! In January? Any guesses?
January is…wait for it…Pearl JAMuary.
Pearl JAMuary? Fuck me.
And I LOVE Pearl Jam!
But what do we have in store for February? FEMuary, where they celebrate female rockers? Feb-TALLICA? Febeatles? Or will February get a pass as a result of that retarded “holiday” Valentines Day? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
It appears as though we have reached a point in our culture where everything has to be that simple-minded and reductive. It seems things just can’t be. Can’t just exist. I mean I was fine with October being October and December being December. I suspect we all were.
But alas, this is where we are.
I am not going to prattle on about how the radio business has changed and when it changed. The fact is, it did change. And not for the better, it’s just that no one notices. Or worse, no one cares. Either way, listeners lose.
Look, I know WPLR is part of Connoisseur Media, a considerably smaller media company than say the fuck nuts over at Clear Channel (which own roughly 1,200 stations). You’d think that would prove an advantage and yet…
I also know that in the effort to save money ALL radio stations use the same, more or less, format for every genre radio station. Fine. I guess. So any kind of regionalization or individuality for your local radio station is gone, aside from advertising (what does that say). Which is truly a shame because that is what made radio interesting. As much as we’d like to blame the DJ’s, we can’t. They’re just another brick in the wall.
Oh, but make no mistake, someone is to blame for this trite crap.
And the only person less original than the program director of these stations (inasmuch as this director of programming does anything other than get his weekly playlist from the corporate office) is the person who comes up with these silly promotional “ideas”. They’re about as original as a fart joke.
And the joke stinks.