Missing FM News WIQI Already (???)

Was listening to the radio late in the morning today (Tuesday, July 17th) when I decided I wanted to check out what was going on with traffic, so I went over to the 101.1 preset in the van I was driving.

Heard music. For four minutes. Sounded like a black funk version of the Smooth Jazz format that had (evidently) been finally banished from the Chicago airwaves.

Turned back to what I had been listening to before then, then returned to 101.1. Heard Right Said Fred on the radio.

Came to find out that FM News 101.1 decided to try for the “Modern Rock” format.

In other words, they decided to become what WTMX was (music for women who went to college and know what they liked from then) before WTMX became what it is (music for women who have their musical tastes dictated to them by their daughters who listen to what passes today as top forty dance (s)hits radio).

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Bad enough that the radio station decided to load up on yet another overdone format; but I liked the fact that someone tried to do a different take on news. It may not have been the most successful take (and it did seem to take on a present-day conservative view on things), but it made for some different information…plus their traffic and weather was done at a different time. I could miss the WBBM take on traffic and turn to WIQI to find out their take on traffic and weather. Between the two they were accurate enough to figure out what needed to be done.

It made for something different, even if it appeared that talk radio was getting ready to invade the one-prestine-for-music FM dial – what with WIQI and WBBM taking up space in the FM section of the dial and Rush Limbaugh moving to FM in Philadelphia (Speaking of which, where’s the continued outrage? Does it only exist when there’s a threat of a source of pussy about to be denied to men?) it looked like MP3 file sharing was about to take its toll on music on the FM dial. Already I saw the loss of dance music to Progressive Talk, now Alternative Radio (or what passed for it in Chicago) had become a casualty, taken out by soft-conservative news (WIQI got their news feeds from ABC; the conservative station before Fox was brought to existence).

Now the news is different. Alternative Radio (right down to the KQX moniker) has returned to Chicago, although stuck on the 87.7 band (where zombie formats go to die, it would appear), and the FM News format has died both in Chicago and New York. And while I can’t say I was much of a fan of the old WIQI (which seemed to have trouble finding its way), I can honestly say I miss it…if only for the choice of news and the ability to get needed information when it was missed.

And as for KQX….I hope to hear DJs on that station someday. That would mean there’s enough interest to keep the station going, and maybe for it to move up the dial to a more mainstream frequency.

Why Our Roads Suck – A Forced Remembrance.

You know what keeps amazing me? Everyone talking about how “The Government’s gathering up all this money, yet they fix nothing.” The sad thing is that the information is out there, only people don’t care to think about it.

Take the example of roads, bridges and transit:

Right now we pay 18.4 cents/gallon in federal gas taxes, with one penny per gallon dedicated to Mass Transit. This is where it’s been since 1997, when the last bill relating to the Federal Gas Tax was passed.

Fifteen years. Which makes the dollar in 1997 worth seventy cents today, if you’re an optimist…and believe the governmental CPI…and ignore that gas (increased 200%, if my recollections on gas prices are right), material and food prices have shot up much more than what the Governmental CPI is willing to admit.

Add in the fact that much of the construction work today isn’t so much “plant two new ribbons of concrete through miles and miles of farmland” (or even “shut things down to work on everything at once”) but is instead “tear up four lanes to put in six, remake interchanges into SPUIs and make sure traffic keeps moving during the work,” and you have a recipe for less and less being done and costing more and more. Shifting transit funding (all one cent per gallon of it) over to highway funding would just add drops to the bucket.

What’s needed is to change how gas is taxed.
First, peg the tax as a percentage of the tax – like they do with gas taxes in Indiana and Illinois.
Second, base that percentage to what we paid in 1997. Basically, it would be a tripling of tax money at the moment – at least in step with gas inflation, plus keeping up with the rising prices of other materials (and wages). Even if the percentage was dropped (Say…down to 10%, from the de facto 15-18% between 1997 and 2000) it’s definitely higher than the present 5% de facto rate.
Third, instead of a penny of the tax going to transit, put in a certain percentage written into law. Like…20% of the tax going to transit, 80% going to Roads. Some places are just NOT going to be amenable to highways, ramps, parking lots and lawns.
And Fourth: for the first five years, take ten percent off the top for a slush fund, so that when revenue drops commitments made during better times could be completed.

(Not that I expect this to come about. Too many Americans would rather bitch about decaying roads than put their money towards fixing the roads.)