Thursday, January 13, 2011

Radio Tease

Every now and then a local radio station changes its format. If I'm lucky, it changes from some annoying techno-pop-disco-crap to classic rock. A few weeks ago, I thought I struck radio gold when I found a station that had converted to a format focusing on rock hits from the 80s and 90s.

I hate to date myself, but if The Big Chill were remade today, it would star people my age chugging Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers and dancing around an Ikea-furnished living room to Flock of Seagulls while wearing worn-out "Frankie Says Relax" concert t-shirts and figuring out how to stream Wham and Paula Abdul videos off YouTube.

MTV might have revolutionized the music industry -- and I was one of those kids who excitedly watched it launch with the appropriately titled "Video Killed The Radio Star" -- but it destroyed excellent bands that weren't pretty enough to fit the new mold. Mainstream music in the 80s was all about big hair, spandex, fog machines and orchestrated laser shows, so to find a radio station that pays homage to the acts that actually managed to keep rock alive during the decades of synth drums and choreographed lip-synch concerts is a rare treat.

Besides, I've grown tired of the so-called classic rock stations of North Carolina. They play the same twenty songs over and over again. This one plays Aerosmith every third song. That one plays ACDC every twenty minutes. That other one must think "Freebird" is the only song Lynyrd Skynyrd ever recorded.

It's like most of these stations laid out their schedules ten years ago and haven't deviated from them since. The only time you might hear more than one song from any band's catalog is on the horribly hackneyed two-fer-Tuesdays. Talk about innovative programming. I'm pretty sure Dick Clark came up with that idea eight years before radio was invented.

So, after years of relying on my iPod for music I like, I was driving to the grocery store and searching for a little agreeable music when I paused on a station long enough to hear the guy say "rock hits of the eighties and nineties." Sure enough, they played several songs in a row that took me back to my younger days. I hastily programmed the station into preset number four on the van radio.

Over the next few days, I would dial up the station to take fleeting sentimental journeys through my teens and early twenties while toodling around town. It all seemed so perfect. Then the cracks appeared in the ice.

By the third or fourth day, I realized I was hearing "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits for the third or fourth time. And wasn't that the second time they played Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town" since this morning? That song doesn't even match their format! Just because The BusBoys covered it for the 48 Hours soundtrack in 1982 doesn't change the fact the song is from the 1970s! Don't these people know what they're doing?!

Turns out, they don't. Thank goodness I always keep the iPod charged up and ready to go.

© 2011 Mark Feggeler


  1. You are right, Skynyrd also did that "Sweet Home Alabama" song...but I'm pretty sure that's all of them. Haha

  2. Why preset number 4? Why not 3? 2? 1? 5? 6? Why 4?? Why?????