Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crappy Playlist radio

There's no better reason to have an MP3 player than the fact that commercial radio sucks.

Back in 2005, I got bored and decided to scan the FM band to see what sort of crap was out there:

88.1 NPR
88.5 religious
88.9 religious
89.5 religious
90.1 religious
90.5 religious
91.1 religious
91.3 classical
91.7 religious
94.1 goody-goody whitebread rock
94.9 country crap
95.7 religious (fake rock)
96.1 classic rock
96.5 light rock, r&b, homogenous ugliness ("light mix"?)
97.5 wabb, pop crap
98.1 sports crap
98.7 country crap
99.5 classic rock (fort walton)
99.9 country crap
100.7 adult contemptible
101.5 playlist rock (tk-101)
102.7 country crap
105.1 moldies
105.7 sunny 105.7--nostalgic pop
106.5 moldies
107.3 adult contemptible

I need to run it again to see what's changed--I'm pretty sure there are another 15 country stations now, since that crap's all over the dial.

The only 3 stations I listened to were NPR, 99.5, and 101.5. I despise country with every last cell of my heart. I'm an atheist, so the religious stuff doesn't appeal. Sports? Nope.

I got tired of NPR and their beg-a-thons and their smug stupidity (and their utterly whitebread attempts to bring humor into the boring business of reading the news).

I got REALLY tired of 99.5 and 101.5, the only two reasonably hard-rock stations in the area, because they play the same set of songs every single day. Different order, same damn songs. Did you know that Van Halen only had three songs? They are "Eruption/Running with the Devil"; "Unchained"; and "Dreams." Wanna hear "Ice Cream Man"? Maybe you can get a request in, assuming someone is near a phone, has the ringer on, and bothers to answer it. Or you can do what I did.

Then there are the ads. Do we REALLY need three "Geico" ads in a single 5-minute break? Who thinks that freaking lizard with the bad accent is actually FUNNY? Yeah, no one's making you listen. Turn it off, change the station, or do what I did.

I shelled out for an iPod Mini (just before Apple discontinued them) and eliminated all that racket in favor of my own. I found several dozen missing Van Halen songs, nearly 200 missing Rush songs ("Tom Sawyer," "Limelight," and "The Spirit of Radio" are all TK-101 will play, apparently). I get to listen to what I want to (lately it's the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast), and to hell with idiot marketers and their talking lizards.

Over the years, I've come up with my own killer playlist idea, in case I ever own a radio station and want it to actually kick ass.

First, ditch the corporate pricks and their notions of what to play. Approach the project with the idea that ANYTHING on an album could get played. If it needs to be beeped, fine. If it's unlistenable crap, fine--take it off the list. Pare each album down to the good stuff if you have to--but put as much on the playlist as possible.

Second: Once a track is played, it is off the list for days or weeks, unless it's newer stuff that needs more airplay. Once you've played "Tom Sawyer," there are still 6 more songs on "Moving Pictures." But don't play those right away! Spread them out. There are 24 studio albums and more live albums than you can stuff into a 4-gig iPod. Pick stuff that's from different albums!

Third: Don't play the same sort of stuff back to back, or the same style of rock. If my iPod can throw out "Sugar" by System of a Down, then follow that with "Superunknown" (Soundgarden), "Bad Moon Rising" (Creedence), "Superman Song" (Crash Test Dummies) then some disc-spinner at a desk can do it.

Fourth: TAKE REQUESTS! Answer the damn phone. Let your audience have some say in what gets played--then they might be more willing to put up with a few minutes of ads.

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