Monday, July 22, 2013

On the radio: It's hard out there

I'm having problems with my car stereo again, and so I am forced to listen to the radio while driving around. This makes me rather cranky considering that virtually all terrestrial radio in my area is unlistenable (may not be an actual word, but it should be) for more than 10 minutes at a time.

There are some bright spots, though: I discovered that vintage episodes of "American Top 40" are syndicated and run in many markets on weekends. What a joy it was hearing someone talk about Prince, thinking, "That sounds like Casey Kasem," and realizing, hey, it IS! Songs just sound better when accompanied by a factoid or two from Casey. "Raspberry Beret" sounds just as fresh and joyous today as it did then, by the way, and it sounds great in a car.

The episodes are chosen at random, I guess; last week I heard a little bit of an installment from 1980, and all I can say is the chart was full of music that does NOT sound as fresh today as it did then. Other than hearing my gal Olivia Newton-John, I wasn't feeling that episode. Still, any old episode of "American Top 40" beats two hours of today's hit music.

It seems every time I'm forced to listen to radio for an extended period, it's my double misfortune that Justin Timberlake has an album out at the time. I don't care how much I'm supposed to like the guy, I can't get into his music. Same for Bruno Mars. While flipping the dial (I am constantly flipping the dial trying to find something worthwhile), I keep hearing some song that sounds like a weak imitation of early Sting with a less reggae-fied beat.

One of the worst gimmicks to hit classic rock radio is "Two-for Tuesday." If a station used the concept of two songs in a row by the same artist to play deep cuts with that second track, well, I might get behind it. Instead, you hear the opening of "Born to be Wild," and you know, well, next up is gonna be "Magic Carpet Ride," because this station plays only the same couple hundred songs over and over and over again (Hey., I'd leave to hear "Over and Over" by the DC5 on the radio).

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: John Mellencamp deserves at least a small measure of respect. Twice last week I heard his early John Cougar-era hit "I Need a Lover," on two different stations--each time without the extended instrumental opening. Clipped versions of old Mellencamp songs may not bother some people, but they bug this old crank.

Talk radio is no better. The local right-wing rant station seems never to be actually talking about an issue itself, but rather whining about how the "mainstream media" is covering the issue. Why not cover the topic yourself instead of trying to be ombudsman for MSNBC or whatever? It amazes me how many of these talking heads and their callers spend time consuming media sources that clearly make them ill. I mean, when I come across a Justin Timberlake or a Bruno Mars song, I don't listen to it, take notes, and call a radio show.  I turn it off.

I tried listening to some sports radio, but this past week was brutal. Usually on weeknights, I have my choice of several different baseball games. But with the All-Star break, options were limited. Even during the daytime hours, the lack of games apparently made many of the hosts desperate to talk about something other than sports, even though they rarely dissect in-game strategies in detail, anyway.

The other day, one station had its own localized version of Espy awards for various sports achievements, complete with listener discussion and voting. great idea, I thought. On its competitor, the two guys were asking callers to give them movies that are popular but that stink. It wasn't even sports movies, but just movies. You really can't think of anything sports-related to talk about? I think the All-Star break just gives some of these guys an excuse to go to the "pop culture" well because, well, everybody can talk about that, right? Everybody thinks he knows enough about "pop culture" to start an argument at the barbershop, go on the radio, or write a blog--

Oh. Well, you get my drift.

1 comment:

subishi said...

i love this entry. genevieve