City Sounds: In Defense of Corporate Radio. Sorta.

(I would post about idiot parking machines in Huntington Beach, but then I remembered, wait, wrong metblog – it would have to go over here. Oh well, next time.)

Driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles, one passes through several media markets and many radio stations. While the numbers change, the formats never really do, of course.

Since moving to San Francisco, I’ve yet to find a radio station suiting my taste. Some come close, but none really works, nor feels as comfortable as what I grew up with here in Los Angeles. Even if it’s crap, it’s my crap.

So when I read this post about weirdness at Star, I wondered what I’d find when I was around to hear it.

Frankly, not much of a difference. Anti-climactic.

However, finding my comfort stations, long pre-set in my car, boring me to death, I fumbled through the dial and hit on some interesting finds I knew nothing about. They may be old news to you, I don’t know, but everyone has an opinion on radio stations these days, it seems – usually just a pissing contest to see who can piss all over any particular station the most.

And just to get you started I’ll say off the top that I do linger on KIIS FM a fair bit since SF has no top 40s station at all. Zip. That may make the city sound more attractive to you for what it won’t sound like. For me, though, I miss out on what these kids today are listening to. And more importantly, miss out on important eye exercises as I roll mine upon hearing that someone has remade “More Than Words,” and the DJs don’t even mention Extreme when they play the remake. Isn’t anyone thinking of the children?

Aside from 93.9 and 95.1 – yeah, they’re country stations, what’s it to you? Oh yeah? Bring it! – my latest find is 93.1 “Jack FM.” Probably old news – I don’t know how long it’s been around. A quick scan of the websites footer indicates its affiliation with CBS radio – more than that I can’t be bothered to learn about. It is an Infinity station – still a big bad radio conglomerate, but not big and bad as Clear Channel.

The stations hook is that it plays a bunch of random crap, saving me the time of plugging in the iPod car converter that doesn’t work in urban, broadcast heavy areas anywhere. If this were a real review or real journalism this is the point where I’d get into background on the iPod generation’s need for choice or a shuffle option for life or some kind of artfully constructed analogy about getting what we want when we want it and now getting it prepackaged for us so our self-directed, inner-soundtrack can be outsourced to corporate America just like our clothing, culture, and food tastes. But you won’t get any of that hear.

For the most part, American radio is like Denny’s these days. You know it’s crap. You know it’s not very good for you. Yet, Moons Over My Hammy tastes as good as the latest J-Lo single sounds when you’re all alone in your car and in a secret good mood. And like the comfort of knowing that every Denny’s offers the same menu in every city and town in America, the bathrooms will be in the same place, and the coffee mugs all feel the same in your hand – so too is radio in your head. Similarity can comfort as well as bore.

At least as for as long as it takes to repack the car and head back to another platter of chicken strips or Usher in another hometown.

3 Replies to “City Sounds: In Defense of Corporate Radio. Sorta.”

  1. If you’re looking for the “Jack” equivalent in the Bay Area, it’s 95.7, “Max” (I think.) Infinity has popped a bunch of these stations across the country, all using similar names, similar “play whatever we want” formats.

  2. Come on what? At least there’s no idiots blabbering on between the songs you don’t want to remember.

    And I can catch the bay area equivalent depending on where in the city I am. We have some hills there that tend to foreclose the radio options pretty fast.

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