I’ve been involved in alternative/radical radio for around nine years now, and apparently I’ve lost sight of what I’m fighting. You see, I almost never listen to the radio. With a small avalanche of CDs, I can always listen to the music I want, not the hits selected by a music director and a focus group. Living in LA, most of my radio listening was of the far-left KPFK, the moderate-to-liberal local NPR station, or pirate rebroadcasts of Kill Radio. But your average commercial, music radio never really entered my antennas.
Last week, down in my new hood in San Diego, I gave the radio dial a spin while driving to and from work– fifteen minutes of commuting, tops. And in this tiny span, I was re-acquainted with radio insanity (or maybe this town’s just crazy. I lived in LA for 9 years, I can’t tell anymore).
The first nugget of insane-o was on the rock station, 105.3. This was the day after Terri Schiavo had died, and the TV had been wall-to-wall Schiavo coverage for around two weeks already. 105.3 lets a Pink Floyd song trail off, and the DJ then somehow segues from that into a five minute rant about Terri Schiavo. As this is a conservative town, the rant was “why didn’t we protect this poor woman”, coupled with the standard conservative hell-in-a-handbasket analysis, comparing it to how “good” convicts and death row inmates have it. “Who cares what happens to the murderers and the rapists?”, they get all the perks while “us good people” get six kinds of shaft. In this situation, I’m not sure what anyone was supposed to protect Terri Schiavo from, except maybe her own wishes. And that lucky executionee they referred to, that lucky bastard gets his death postponed a couple weeks till they find a “more humane” deadly chemical to inject him with.
Anyhow, this monolgue (well, dialogue, there were two DJs ranting) made my jaw drop through the floor. In all my years alive, I have never heard a commercial music station ever take a stance on anything political. Radio stations like to keep their “controversy” to sexy talk and swear words, not political discord. Apparently the DJs either felt so strongly about this that they decided to speak out no matter what (yeah, right), or they felt that the public was so solidly in agreement that they could say such things without fear.
Insanity #2: I flip to a random music station (turns out to be country), where a woman is dedicating a song to her fiance. They are to be married this weekend. “And this Saturday, at the wedding, we’ll kiss for the first time.” The confused DJ says “you mean that the two of you will kiss to this song for the first time?” “No, this is the first time we’ll kiss, ever.” They’ve been together four years.
Again, jaw meets floor. A four-year relationship, a decision to be together till death do you part, and they haven’t even fucking kissed? That falls somewhere between mega virginity pledge and mail order bride. I guess if you think that the sex is going to be “extra special” if you save yourself for marriage, why not make the kisses extra special too?
That’s going to be the most uncomfortable honeymoon ever.
“Omigod, honey, what are you doing?!?”
“It’s called a ‘hug’. I saw people do it on MTV.”
“Get away, you pervert!”
And finally, there was an insane ad. It was for a website, easychild.com. Easychild.com is a computer program for parents who don’t know how to raise their kids. It creates charts and tables that promise certain rewards to a kid if they perform certain behaviors and certain punishments for other behaviors. Yes, for a mere $29.95 and some refrigerator magnets, you can parent without even talking to your child! I understand that some people are going to have trouble with the parenting skills, but this just seems like a failure from the start, throwing money at disfunction and no one will know what to do when it doesn’t work.
Thanks to the miracle of radio, I was knee-deep in collective psychosis in mere minutes. Suddenly, I am quite proud to be part of a movement to turn this radio into something else– anything else. Shit, what wouldn’t be more sane than this sort of programming? Well, apart from the iceberg lettuce pop that passes for “music” on these same stations.
Next week I’ll start bringing back the rock and the grooves and the facts and the yelling, in the way that I do. Let’s kill as many radio stars as possible.