I want my Neo-Radio!

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t watch much TV because the majority of it is crap. The same is true for radio except I don’t listen to anything on the radio these days outside of NPR. I don’t think I’ve intentionally had a commercial station on my dial in the last half-decade. This is largely due to one of the bits of legislation signed by President Clinton that I disagreed with at the time because I thought it would ruin radio and, as it turns out, I was right. In 1996 Congress passed and Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which lifted the 40-station ownership cap allowing for the massive consolidation that has taken place in the industry. These days most stations nation-wide are owned and operated by a handful of big companies like Clear Channel. As of 2002 Clear Channel owned 1,200 radio stations in all 50 states according to their website. Here in the Detroit area they own 11 of the 21 or so commercial stations and there isn’t a single one of them I can stand to listen to anymore. If it’s not the limited selection of constantly repeated “hits” then it’s the annoying as hell DJs who can make five year olds seem like mental giants in comparison. Morning shows are the worst. Shut the fuck up and play some music for crying out loud! I don’t care what you thought of last night’s episode of Survivor. You can turn on just about any Clear Channel rock station in just about any major city and, outside of the call letters, it’ll sound pretty much like the one in your home town.

Anyway, it appears I’m not alone in this regard and it turns out that there may be a bit of a backlash against the current corporate model of running a radio station starting to take root. Listening to All Things Considered on NPR on the way home yesterday I heard a news item titled Neo-Radio Succeeds by Cutting the Noise that offers some hope to those of us who can’t stand commercial radio these days. Wade Goodwyn tells us about a new trend in radio where the play lists are huge, they don’t talk over the start and end of a song, the DJs talk about *GASP!* the music instead of Survivor, the amount of commercials aired is less than half of what the big commercial stations air, and the audiences are growing like wildfire. Some stations have seen a 65% increase in audience since they started up, something Clear Channel dreams about seeing, and they appear to share part of their audience with (surprise!) NPR.

I want one of these stations to show up in Detroit. Soon. It would actually get me to listen to commercial radio again. I’d still tune into NPR from time to time, but these days when I want to listen to music I have to pull out my stash of CDs. It’d be nice to actually use the radio in my car for listening to music once again and I’m just not willing to shell out the bucks for XM Radio at this point. Not as long as my CD player is still working at least.

In the meantime, you can check out the two stations NPR profiles in the report at their websites. There’s KQMT 99.5 FM ‘The Mountain’ out of Denver and KBZT 94.9 FM out of San Diego which also streams its programming over the Net. The coolest part about FM949’s audio streaming is that they remove the commercials from their streaming feed:

Music & DJs, YES. Commercials, NO.

When you listen to our stream, you’ll hear our music and you’ll hear our DJs identify the songs you hear – but when we go to our commercials, you’ll hear “replacement” audio. You may hear some of our promotional announcements, other music, wacky foreign language lessons, Halloran’s heavy breathing, or reminders that regular programming will return. Rest assured that when our commercial break is done, you’ll be right back to the next track we play on the air.

How friggin’ cool is that??

14 thoughts on “I want my Neo-Radio!

  1. I will certainly try 99.5 here in Denver.  I find the incessant and godawful chatter of morning drive DJs to be even more irritating than the smug and insulting righteousness of talk show hosts (of any ilk)—which is why I’ve been listening to a lot of CDs and Books-on-Tape for the last several months.

    cap: “left”

  2. Fucking Clear Channel will never have me for a customer! This list of banned songs is the reason I call for a BOYCOTT!

    Why would Pink Floyd’s “Mother” be banned? Is it because of the line “Mother should I trust the government?” or is there something else in there? Fucking corporate censorship bullshit!

  3. Over the past year I’ve found myself listening to 99.5 The Mountain more and more.  Lots of music, very few ads.  Also lots of “B

  4. I literally have not listened to the radio at all since oh, 1998 or so. I hate radio with a fiery, burning passion. The only downside is that it takes a while for new music that isn’t crap (and precious few of that there is) to filter down to me through some kind of pop culture osmosis.

  5. This is for the benefit any other classical music fans that may visit here (the few the proud). For decades, my favorite FM station has been WGMS 103.5 FM. (You will have to endure commercials and some news.)

    Anyone who wants to protest media consolidation, can go to this consumersunion.org page then scroll down to the bottom and find the link to ‘Send a free email on media ownership to the President and the FCC’.

  6. Just get yourself XM Radio.  It costs about $100 and $10/month thereafter.  My wife drives 84 mile/day for work and I think XM is the only thing keeping her sane.  Its a lot of fun.  Any kind of music you like and no commercials.  Definitely worth it if you drive a lot.

  7. For long trips my iPod rules, but I still like listening to my morning DJs Kevin and Bean on KROQ here in L.A. It’s not not annoying to only here a few songs in the morning when they’re the same songs they play a hundred times during the day. I tune in to listen to them, not the music. KROQ used to be one of the most influential stations in the country, but sadly has turned into a corporate piece of shit too. Carson Daley was actually a great DJ when he was here. I know, hard to believe.

  8. For the adventurous, this is really the only radio station that counts.

    http://wfmu.org/

    And they’ve always been indie.  No corporation in their right mind would take the chance on such an endeavor.

  9. I agree with nowiser.  Get SIRIUS satellite.

    Clear Channel has a big piece of XM, and I think the idea with satellite is the same as cable – no censors, no commercials.

  10. I listened to The Fox and also to WQMF here in Louisville,KY until I found out that they’re both Clear Channel stations and now; I don’t listen to those 2 anymore.  I mean, Clear Channel ruins every radio station that they get a hold of and they also own these KISS radio stations(know what I’m talking about?)and, no, I don’t feel like listening to Britney Spears every 15 minutes!

  11. I’m in the uk, and its exactly the same here, I work as a welder in a factory and different people are blaring this shite all day long from there hi-fi cast offs. These stations have actually bought the rights to a lot of this dogs mess that they loop endlessly so they don’t have to pay any rights/royalties on what they play. You will never hear a piece of music played on one of these globalist conglomerate behemoths that has anything remotely controversial to say about anything. Its all taylour swift, Adele, Beyonce, Justin bieber, Katy perry, etc etc manufactured Disney club robots or whatever and most people are so utterly brainwashed cabbages that they think its fucking brilliant! When you point it out to them that’s its all a big steaming pile of manure, they look at you like your insane. I bought a digital radio with Bluetooth for my car and can stream one of the many decent internet stations into my car. Commercial radio is a fucking joke! Audio garbage for the masses.

  12. Wow, having a comment show up on this is a blast from the past. It’s interesting to look back on this 13 year-old post given how things have changed in the time since.

    I don’t know if we ever got a Neo Radio station in the Detroit area or if they ended up being a success elsewhere or died out. These days if I’m not listening to NPR (which is still a staple for me) then I’m streaming music over my phone into my car radio from either Pandora (which does have commercials, but no DJs) or Amazon Music (where I’m listening to albums I own or that are available through Prime). I listen to Pandora enough that I’m seriously considering subscribing to get rid of the commercials. Not because I think there’s too many of them, but they tend to be the same half-dozen over and over again. O’Reilly Auto Parts is a big supporter of Pandora it seems.

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