Local Radio: What It Was, What We’re Missing

Kinda disturbing, looking at the billboard advertisements and realizing all the radio stations around here are either owned by Clear Channel, Infinity Broadcasting, Bonneville International or some other multinational, with a smattering of local-owned stations. Needless to say, the music from these stations has been getting lamer and plainer over the past few years.

Mind you, I had been complaining almost non-stop about the crapification of music radio since the late seventies, when I found myself writing such stuff as “Tacky Radio, KTAC” and other items about being bored by the radio. WWCK (105.5 FM) was the target of much of my mutterings against radio, the reference to WTAC in the lyric quoted otherwise.

But what was wrong about the music on the radio back then? Was it the music? Was it the apparent condescention that seemed to come from their having control over our music?

Heck, I remember that WWCK used to try to figure out what the next hit was by playing five or six tracks the minute they got a new record. WFMK used to try to get six months to a year ahead of what other radio stations were gonna play, sometimes it actually succeeded.

And WTAC? Every so often I’d hear something along the lines of this:

Tanya Roberts, please call your parents. Tanya Roberts, please call your parents.

Think of it: A radio station would call out names of people whose parents were worried about them. A radio station that parents felt safe in calling a station to find out where their children was.

And this was a Rock-n-Roll station. You know, Satan’s Music?

The fact is, I listen to stations which have stars over all the time for their morning shows. They give the weather and sometimes tell of school closings (probably the one thing still in the law), but if someone’s kid was missing you’d be hard pressed to hear the above announcement on the airwaves. Sure you might find it on some “Family Friendly ™” station, but name one teenager listening to one of those stations who’d cause enough trouble for a parent to call. And usually you hear of such problems on such stations long after the kid started straying, in a “Please pray for me, I think my son has gone off the deep end.”

And, back to my subject, it’s such local touches that I miss about today’s radio. Not just the regional scenes and local music that got played, but the touches that made you know they were part of the community — not just a station there to take money from your community.

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