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??