Monday, July 21, 2008

Of Cabbages and Kings

Are there two candidates in this presidential race? Or is this election just an extended publicity trip for Obama before his coronation in November?

What's the other guy's name again? Oh, yeah. McCain. Ugh. Maybe it's just as well he's being ignored.

Obama is going to Europe to speak to his people. His constituency: people who think the world would be better off if America was weaker. Too bad for him Europeans can't vote in American elections.

Recently I read "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor. I won't spoil it by going into the plot, but my first reaction was: this story is evil. Not bad -- in fact, it's quite well written -- but evil. Flannery O'Connor was one twisted sister.

As I write I'm working on an Urban station in my day job. Urban is what the radio industry calls stations listened to by inner city minorities. Lots of other people listen to it too, even people in small towns, but it's called Urban, perhaps to distinguish it from Country.

Urban is Hip-Hop and R&B. So I'm a 51-year old white guy listening to Lil Wayne and Rihanna. If I didn't have this job and you had asked me to identify Rihanna, I might have guessed it was a sports car or maybe an Italian fashion designer. Rap music depresses me.

But then, I don't like any format much. Country is unbearable. Top 40 or "Hits" is rap with white artists in the mix. Adult Contemporary is a soporific, "soft rock," which is an oxymoron. (John Tesh, anyone?) Hot Adult Contemporary is mostly songs that people are used to, up to 15 years old, with some newish songs, but no rap. Rhythmic plays Top 40 songs remixed with that constant disco beat that says "dance" to contemporary ears. Oldies and Classic Rock play the same songs over and over and over. Active Rock is heavy metal. Alternative is usually heavy metal, but some stations feature more indie artists -- those are my favorite stations.

Adult Album Alternative is "world class rock" and often features whiny singer-songwriters with a little blues and reggae thrown in; these stations often make their image heavily environmentalist, as they equate morality with environmentalism. The idea seems to be that they have honesty and integrity in the music they play, and these virtues compel them to be environmentalist. Environmentalism is the secular left's substitute for religion. When they stick to bands and not singer-songwriters so much, these stations can be good.

Variety Rock is mostly '80s, but some '60s, '70s, '90s and today. These stations always have a man's name, like Jack or Charlie or Doug. Usually Jack. Jack says hip, funny things and "plays what he wants." It's like Jack is an individualist who stands up to the corporate suits and ignores their playlists. Of course, Variety Rock has been thoroughly market researched, despite their image, and they have a playlist just like every other format.

When I get in the car and turn on the radio, what do I listen to? Classical music, except when they do their pledge drives and beg for contributions, and sports talk radio, some political talk and some Classic Rock.

Some young people hate classical music so much that convenience stores have been known to pipe Mozart through their speakers just to discourage mindless youth from hanging around on the property. Like Black Flag to roaches is Vivaldi to young idiots.

Flibbertigibbet says he does not go for women because of this. Of course, Flibbertigibbet understands that it's funny because women don't act like that. Women never fart.

UPDATE: I forgot one of my favorite formats, Urban Adult Contemporary. They play today's R&B and old school classic soul. You get the good stuff from the '60s and '70s -- Delphonics, Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind and Fire -- tasty tunes.


Jim May said...

Thanks for the radio format primer. I'd lost touch with it after I left Toronto; when "Jack" showed up in L.A. I wasn't sure what "format" it was, as everything had moved up twenty years since I last paid attention.

mike18xx said...

The only radio worth listening to is KQRS (Minneapolis) when they're doing their "A to Z" (they play their entire library of rock, which takes almost a month, around the clock, no repeats).

They also tend to play "long" (album) versions of classic rock cuts rather than the "Top 40" (.45) versions.

Myrhaf said...

Yes, those A to Z things are fun. I love hearing a song I haven't heard in 30 years. I think Classic Rock stations should try to go "deep" more often. Jim Ladd does it at KLOS and has the best rock radio show in America. And believe me, I have heard every rock station in the top 30 markets and no question, Ladd's show is the best.

Any station that plays the short version of "Light My Fire" sucks for that reason alone.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Oh boy, you nailed it about "radio music." I only listen to the classical music station because it's less pathological than the modern stuff and can become boring background more easily.

But I do miss our now defunct "golden oldies" station - 40s and 50s stuff: WWll Big Band and Da Bingle etc.

Myrhaf said...

There is a format called American Standards that plays recordings from the '50s and '60s -- Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, and so on, singing pre-rock pop. I love that format, but wish they would get a little more adventurous and play music from my favorite era, 1925-1935. For that you have to go to an internet station such as Radio Dismuke. The early '30s recordings are the best stuff ever made.

The Gregor said...

Alice Cooper has a pretty good radio show but I mostly stick to internet radio because of their uncanny ability to read my ipod and recommend new music based on what I already listen to. Also check out Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal for some really good alternative and indie rock or ‘desert rock’ as they call themselves.

Matt said...

I can't listen to the radio. Most of my favorite bands get no play--on any station--for various reasons. And when they do play something from a band I like (say, some Zeppelin on a classic rock station, it is always "Stairway..." or something else as common).

My father is a complete audiophile. Growing up in his house gave me an encyclopedic knowledge of music, artists and song lyrics. He has almost 2 terabytes of external hard drive space at his place that is used almost exclusively to store music that pipes into his high tech wireless system that covers the whole house and is controlled by several computer hubs placed in strategic locations throughout the house.

Growing up with in that man's house exposed me to so much music that my taste varies so widely that the radio is useless to me. I just make playlists on my iPod and plug it into my car stereo.

Pacific Salt said...

Intriguing. Were you ever able to get the late British dj John Peel's show over there in the States via the BBC website? If you were able to do so, then I'm surprised you didn't mention it. If you weren't able to do so, then you really missed out on thousands of eclectic and ecstatic musical moments beyond the scope of a few words on a comment thread.

Of course, I understand the simple aversion to anything remotely connected to those bastards at the BBC!!

I'm a new reader to your blog as of the last month or so - found you via Billy Beck. I like what I read here... you're doing sterling work captian Myrhaf.

Myrhaf said...

Thanks, Pacific Salt. I've never heard any British radio. Now with the internet, though, radio is no longer only local, so people might get more in the habit of listening to radio far away.

Brian N. said...

"He flung up his hands and tramped down the stone stairs, singing out of tune with a Cockney accent:

O, won't we have a merry time
Drinking whisky, beer and wine,
On coronation,
Coronation day?
O, won't we have a merry time
On coronation day?" --James Joyce, Ulysses

Myrhaf said...

Make my whisky a double -- and keep 'em coming.

Brian N. said...

I was going to give context to that quote, but instead, I'm going to add another;

"my poison's named
you know my brand
so please make mine a double Sam
Stir it up nice I'll eat it right here
this highway runs from Paraguay
And I've just come all the way" --Steely Dan, Turn that Heartbeat Over Again

mike18xx said...

Jim Ladd does it at KLOS and has the best rock radio show in America

Ladd may be great (I have yet to tune in when he's on), but that lady idiot they have on in the afternoon is grating as all hell. And the commercials, Jesus...they're 50% of the airtime! (KQRS has a lot of them too, but at least has an hour-long block during rush-hour.)