Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why I don't listen to the radio once I'm conscious.

I've never been a huge radio fan. Too much jibba-jabba, too many songs that suck, too many freakin' Brewers/Packers games on when I'm in the mood to ROCK.

It certainly didn't help that I grew up in an area with approximately three stations that I could tune in consistently:

1. The country station. (Have I ever mentioned that Hank Williams Jr.'s "There's a Tear in My Beer" was my favorite song from the ages of seven to nine? Yeah. It was.)

2. The classic rock station. (The infamous HOT ROCK, J96, which I swear to god used to just make mix tapes of songs and pop them in at the same time every day--literally, the Who's "Magic Bus" was on daily at 11:30 throughout the summer of '00, and I know because every day at that time I was scraping gum from underneath the desks & benches of the School District of Ashland. Ridin' that magic bus, indeed.)

3. And, what I guess you'd call the really "classic" rock station, AM 1400. (They played little else but Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streissand music, along with Brewers' games. In high school, when Emily'd give me rides home in her bitchin' 1983 powder-blue Chevette, the only station that would come in was AM 1400--so we'd crank up that "Music Box Dancer," roll down the windows, and get down with our bad selves. That's how we rolled.)

No clear winner in that bunch, is there.

But then, as much as the radio gets on my nerves, I've never been a big fan of cardiac arrest, either--so around the time I got to high school, I stopped using the terrifying "BEEP BEEP BEEP" setting on my alarm clock & made the big switch to the radio setting.

Of my three options in Ashland, HOT ROCK, J96 is the one most suitable to my listening palate. Yeah, they may slip some godforsaken Nickelback in there once in a while (which is neither "classic" nor "rock," thankyouverymuch), and maybe a few too many Rolling Stones songs (six per hour seems high to me, but then, what do I know?), but overall they do a fairly good job of living up to their name. There is rock, and much of it is indeed hot.

There is one major problem with HOT ROCK J96 and her sister stations, however (all three of the stations in town are housed in the same building, and I assume all owned by the same entity): the ads.

I'm not delusional, I know we live in a puny radio market and we're not going to get ads of the same caliber as, say, the ones in the Twin Cities. We're gonna get some Duluth spillover, maybe a few from down by Wausau and Eau Claire, a sprinkling from the U.P. and other than that, we're going to hear a lot of locally-made ads. That's perfectly alright, and kind of charming in a way. Many of them, especially the ones featuring local business owners talking about sales & such, are actually pretty good.

Ironically, some of the worst ads on our radio stations are the ones produced...BY THE RADIO STATIONS.

More specifically--they make ads featuring conversations about products/services...with the same DJ reading the dialogue from both sides of the conversation. Example:

DJ: Oh drat, my cell phone went dead.
SAME DJ: Hey, have you been down to Alltel Wireless?
STILL THE SAME DJ: No, do you think they could help me with my wireless needs?
SAME STUPID DJ: Yes, they feature the best wireless network in northern Wisconsin.
OH MY GOD IT'S THE SAME GUY: Do they feature the new Sprint Motorola RazR Cingular Wireless Catherine Zeta-Jones (whatever, I can't keep all these cell phone things straight) thingamabob?
LOOK AT THE CRAZY MAN TALKING TO HIMSELF: Yes, and this week they're offering free magic beans to the first fifty customers who come in and climb their wireless beanstalk.


(Especially to people who are just waking up???)

Some days the only thing that keeps me from switching my alarm clock back over to that hideous "BEEP BEEP BEEP" squawk of death (besides the fact that I don't want to die) is that every morning, they have some dumb call-in contest with a piece of trivia the average 12 year-old should know (proven by the fact that about 50% of the time, the winning caller is calling from a school bus on the way to town).

And every morning, the same guy calls in and regardless of the trivia question being asked, yells:


I love that he calls every day, and I love that the radio station puts him on the air every day. It's like clockwork. I could, quite literally, set my clock by it. Much like the "Magic Bus" of '00.

(I am starting to wonder if he's on Foreman's payroll, though.)

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