Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Last night at the chasm serving my penance, right towards the end of my shift, the local "rock" station being listened to (not my choice) was playing Def Leppard's "Bringing on the Heartbreak". Not that that is groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, (although it is rare to hear anything off "High and Dry" these days) but at the end of the song instead of fading out, I was shocked to hear it roll directly into "Switch 625", as it does on the album.

I was stunned. I called it a small victory for the d.j., although it's probably likely he was out of the room and didn't catch it.

Actually scratch that, everything is on touchscreens at the bulk of radio stations, and knowing that this was Milwaukee's "big one"......

Wait, that term is perfect, I should probably take off those quotes. Ha Ha.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. It seems like the jock probably let the song run. As I said, it's small victory in every sense of the word. What I dream about is hearing a station launch into "Unsatisfied", "Rise Above", or "Fearless Vampire Killers", but I know that will not happen.

I told you that story to tell you this one.

There's another popular radio station here, one that professes itself to be "independent and alternative", although all I ever hear on there are bands like Shinedown, Kings of Leon, and a bunch of stuff that was huge on the rock charts in the 90's. I don't think playing "The Man Who Shot the World" followed by "Possum Kingdom" as cool as those songs are, is "independent". A lot of stations play those particular tracks, but I digress.

Every once in a while this station will toss in a Ramones song, or one of two Violent Femmes tunes. Maybe once a week, one of the Beastie Boys tunes. When I say once in a while, I mean every 12 hours or so. This is not "edgy". This is not "independent". Come on, man. The rotation is every bit as canned as any AOR station in any town I've ever lived in. You can tell it was put together by some firm or consultant somewhere, and "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "So Watcha Want" are part of that "record library".

Don't be fooled.

When I worked at an oldies station in Wausau, Wisconsin, they had a liner that belched into your ears, "WE'RE OPENING THE DOORS TO THE LARGEST RECORD LIBRARY IN WISCONSIN!!", and I had to choke back laughter before turning on the mic after playing it. This record library was a small rack consisting of about 36 cds, each disc's jewel case contained a plain white liner sheet with the names of the 12 songs contained within. That's it. That's your "record library", some prepackaged, copyright-licensed monstrosity put together by a hired non-descript consulting firm somewhere. Nondescript as those damn liner sheets. Harmless as a baby with a marshmallow teddy bear.

Oh, yeah. "Don't break format". Stay with the rotation sheets. Wouldn't want to give false information by a song or two to ASCAP/BMI, now would we? I remember pulling a 10 to 5 all night new year's eve shift, playing an upbeat "HAPPY NEW YEAR" countdown bit at the top of midnight and then launching into.....................wait for it......................"You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers.


Now I would have preferred something that would make the crowds of people listening and partying and kissing strangers and spilling champagne and having elated regrettable sex on the first day of the year dance, damn it. Something like oh, say, "Hanky Panky", "C'mon Everybody", or "Twist and Shout". Tunes you could really get down to.



Mind you, I was fearful to even try, 6 months out of broadcasting school. But that was, although not my fault, one of my darkest moments in radio.

I steadily became more disillusioned in the lack of spontaneity in the business, the machinization of it all. As a kid, I dreamed of "laying some serious shit on you", bringing something new to the world, because being in that business you have access to music most people never hear. And never will hear.

Goddamn it. That wasn't even an option by the time I walked in the door.

Ah, fuck it.

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