Friday, July 1, 2011

On The Radio Part Duex

I was driving in my car today, and got stuck in traffic (damn you, LA!) so I turned on a local radio station that I've talked about before.  Its a local station in LA that isn't owned by some giant conglomerate and actually plays music, with DJ's who know more about the music than the people who wrote the songs.

The format is kind of eclectic, but with a heavy focus in classic rock.  Today I turned them on and heard this:

Let me tell you, there is nothing more discombobulating than hearing Johnny Cash singing 'Jackson' from Live from Folsom Prison-- on the radio. But this station has "album sides" days where they play entire album sides, on vinyl (You can listen to The Sound LA (100.3 on the dial if you are in the area) online. They are doing this album-sides-on-vinyl all weekend, and its streaming online at  Even so, hearing Johnny Cash on the radio isn't something most of us are used to hearing.  When I realized it was also the whole album side (on vinyl!) I wanted to tell someone else, so I called people, "Turn on this radio station! They are playing Folsom Prison on VINYL!  On the air!"

I haven't yet decided if that makes this radio station insanely cool, or if this is just a really sad commentary on the rest of radio today...either way, I wanted to find someone else who would appreciate this experience too.  Radio used to be a place where other people you knew were listening to the same DJ and the same song you were listening to at the exact same moment.  You used to call your friends, "Turn on X100! (insert song you both love) is on!".  Now, you don't call your friends to say "Hey dude, just wanted to tell you I am currently listening to Foo Fighters on my iPod by myself."

Radio used to be ubiquitous.   Now, a million different ways to consume music exist, and there is no longer one set medium that most people use.  This point was brought home today when I called people to tell them Folsom Prison was on, and no one had a radio!  I don't really have a radio either!  I have the one the car manufacturers put in my car. I have the one that came with my speaker system's receiver. And that's it. If there is a station I really want to hear, whelp, they better be streaming online.  But that doesn't make it mobile.

The walkman. It was practically the first mobile music device- bring your radio with you!  Now even the mobile music devices don't come with radio,  Sure, you can get Iheartradio, but that's limited.  Even the manufacturers of the most widely used music devices today know that radio isn't where its at.  Typical radio plays the same 10 songs over and over again, and no one wants to put up with that when there are plenty of other options to find music.  Finding a good station is like finding a diamond.  Like finding a gem in a sea of radio crap.

Here's another gem I discovered on a road trip recently. Actually, re-discovered. KFOG in San Francisco. I was first introduced to them in Napster's heyday, when a good number of the tracks I found were from KFOG live sessions, even though I had no clue where KFOG was.  Imagine my surprise when, years later, I was in San Francisco listening to the radio (in the car, of course) and found it.  Here's what's on their 'recently played' list:

Kandi - One Eskimo (great song)

De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da- The Police

My Hometown- Bruce Springsteen

You & Me- Dave Matthews Band

You Make Lovin Fun- Fleetwood Mac

You can listen online at where you can also save their playlist and share with friends.  Share with friends. Just in a different way than we used to.

Maybe this is why services like and are becoming so popular.  They bring back the camaraderie that we used to get when we heard a song.  Now instead of calling your friend and saying "Dude turn on X92 they are playing Monster!", you post on Facebook, "Dudes, I am DJing on, currently playing Monster by Kanye West, come listen." Is it the same? No. But I'm glad we're bringing it back.

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