Friday, March 30, 2007

Around the Dial

It's old news already -- Radio Free Ohio is gone as of today. 1350 AM is now all sports all the time. Great. Just what this area needs, another sports station.

I had grave doubts that 1350 would survive when I first stumbled upon it over a year ago. It is owned by Clear Channel, who are not known for supporting liberal ideals. The stations chosen for this "radical" experiment were all low wattage stations. I expect they thought they might make better use of their resources and make some extra money with lib talk. But then the 2006 election indicated that change was afoot in this country. Is it a coincidence that Clear Channel is closing all its liberal stations in Ohio, a key state in election prognosis?

On its web site, 1350 claims that its listenership was down and that is why the switch to sports. Yet for months and months we heard that listenership was going up. So who to believe? And a more important question, what station do I set my radio alarm clock to get me up on time?

NPR does not work for me. The voices and the content are way too soothing and I would go right back to sleep. WAKR has local news, but it is so bland and conventional I cannot bear to tune it in. I don't want music waking me up, no matter the type. I need a bright energetic voice discussing the issues of the day -- but there is nothing like that any more. I guess I will have to pick something/anything and program it to be extra loud. Then I can jump up, turn on the computer and listen in on streaming Bill Press. No more staying in bed and gradually waking up as the daily issues prompt my brain to get going.

I looked online to find alternative radio programming and discovered this site, Pandora, where you can create your own radio programming. Naturally, I typed in "the Kinks" as my major influence. Oddly, the first song that came up was "Black Messiah," a somewhat controversial song. (Personal take -- it is not racist, but rather another one of Ray's observations of life songs.) So I signed up for an official Pandora account.

The downside is that there is no DJ on Pandora. In fact, the art of the DJ is no more. DJs are now paid voices that can be recorded anywhere at any time and automated into the music. Maybe that is why I am more into talk radio these days. The talk show host is attempting to communicate with the audience, whereas the paid voice is filler and functions primarily as a station ID rather than as intimate music guide and master of the segue.

As I write this entry, one song goes over and over in my brain, so I looked on YouTube to see if I could find a video version of the Kinks classic, Around the Dial. Alas, no -- but here are some of the lyrics. This song, written in 1982, comments upon the vanishing DJ. No mystery these days as to why any favorite radio voice has disappeared.

Radios of the world are tuning in tonight,
Are you on the dial, are you tuned in right?
One of our D.J.'s is missing.
Are you listening?
Are you listening to me?
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me clearly?
Around the dial.

I've been around the dial so many times,
But you're not there.
Somebody tells me that you've been taken off the air.
Well, you were my favorite D.J.,
Since I can't remember when.
You always played the best records,
You never followed any trend.
F.M., A.M. where are you?
You gotta be out there somewhere on the dial.
On the dial.

Where did you go Mr. D.J.?
Did they take you off the air?
Was it something that you said to the corporation guys upstairs?
It wasn't the pressure,
You never sounded down.
It couldn't be the ratings,
You had the best in town.
Somehow I'm gonna find ya, track you down.
Gonna keep on searchin',
Around and around and 'round and 'round...

I can't believe that you've been taken off the air.
Think I'll sell my radio now that you're not there.
You never gave in to fashion,
You never followed any trends,
All the record bums tried to hack you up,
But you were honest to the end.
Gonna keep my radio on,
'Till I know just what went wrong.
The answers out there somewhere on the dial.
On the dial.

Can you hear me (around the dial)
Are you listenin' (around the dial)
Are you out there (around the dial)
Can you hear me?
Around the dial.

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