Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Spirit of the Radio

To my dismay, but not to my surprise, Indie 101.5, Denver's best radio station, closed up shop last week. It's now trying to survive as the online-only Indie303.com, and hey, good luck with that.

What is surprising is what replaced it: 101.5 The Pole, which plays the kind of music you would hear in a strip club. I wish I were kidding about this. Do people go to those places to hear the music? It's like someone expecting baseball fans to tune in to a radio station that played the Mexican Hat Dance and "Charge!"

I'm mostly just listening to oldies stations these days anyway. When I first discovered oldies radio, it was Chicago's Magic 104 in the mid-1980s; I don't know how much earlier than that the format was in existence, although I'm sure Jim Bartlett does. At that point, the finishing line for the format was around 1979. As time has moved on, the oldies format now plays songs from as late as the mid-1980s. They traffic in nostalgia, and people my age - some of them, at least - have fond memories of going to the beach and listening to Bryan Adams and a-Ha. But in order to serve an audience interested in what you might call contemporary nostalgia, they never play anything older than the Beatles. No one has fond musical memories lasting from Bill Haley and the Comets all the way through to John Cougar Mellencamp.

What this has meant, fortunately enough, is that there's now a market for old oldies, going back to the 1950s and 1960s and ending around 1970. We have a station like that (on the AM dial, of course) out here in Denver now, and I listen to it far more than the new-oldies station. I do this not so much to relive my younger days - the first song I remember hearing on the radio is "American Pie," from 1971 - as for the tunes. Unlike most oldies listeners, I like it when I hear a song I haven't heard before.

Yes, I can remember listening to Huey Lewis and the News' "If This Is It." No, I don't particularly care to relive those memories.

3 comments:

Innocent Bystander said...

Great post!

Tom Nawrocki said...

Thanks!

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