Classic rock. The scourge of the airwaves. Only Baby Boomers listen to the radio anymore, so Classic Rock rules the airwaves. If you want to tune in to what young musicians are banging and booming out, you won't find it on the "free radio". Maybe there is some low-frequency channel hidden on the band somewhere that may play music by young musicians and new arrivals to the rock music industry, but it's not a strong signal on "free radio"; and if you happen to be a couple miles from their little antenna - most likely some retrofitted TV satellite dish hanging from an oak tree - you just won't be able to pick up any new tunes. And the jocks will most likely be sophomoric middle-schoolers who tell a lot of stupid, corny jokes while talking like chickens.
It's a shame, too, since young musicians are making some great music and all of us old dinosaurs just aren't computer literate enough to download the stuff, like taking it from Google Play or Music Download Paradise onto an Android Phone. Ask old Uncle Jack if he can replace the head gasket you blew last weekend when you were driving Old Sally too rough and he'd most likely say "No problem," but ask him how to download "I Am Machine" by Three Days Grace and he'll tell you to forget about it. And if you know much about cars and cell phones, it's a lot easier to download a song to a cell phone than tear an engine apart and put that thin thingamajig over all those funky holes in the bottom of the car's engine. And you won't get nearly as sweaty, greasy, and grimy downloading a song.
And in defense of my generation, the Baby Boomer folks, most of us used to spend a buck-twenty-five for a 45 at the record store to get that really great tune we liked that we heard on the radio. Most of us find something very wrong with downloading music for free. Don't musicians want to get paid? Are they all "Art for Art's Sake" bleeding hearts? There's a certain ethical and moral dilemma, possibly even a catastrophe here; and although many music buffs and tune-listening aficionados pay a few coins on electronic mediums for songs, there is a plethora of others who'll try every trick in the book to get "free music" downloads.
There are two Classic Rock stations in the area where I live. There really isn't much of a difference between the formats these two stations play. Each will play a song by AC/DC, another by Journey, some overplayed Aerosmith noise, then a tune by Rush or maybe Ozzie, and then Heart or Fleetwood Mac comes crackling through. And so forth....Of course, Pink Freud, oh, I mean Pink Floyd, is always very well represented. Always. Sometimes, Van Halen or Lynyrd Skynyrd get some airtime, but these two really great bands, along with a host of others, seem to be getting shoved to the side.
If you listen to these stations for three days in a row, there is no variance. If I never hear "Walk This Way" again, it will be far too soon. I've only heard that song 7 million times now and truthfully, I wasn't really "wowed" by it the first time it was played, way back in the early 70's.
Did you ever have oatmeal for breakfast every morning for two months? Well, listen to your local Classic Rock station for two days and you'll relate, if you don't relate already. That's Classic Rock for you. If I went to another city, it would all be the same format probably, and there would be a lot more Classic Rock stations on the band than any other type of music genre, except maybe for Country Music.
Once a day, both channels will host some obscure artist that never gets much airplay on "Classic Rock" radio, even if their band was a dynamo a few decades ago. The time for this special hour or half-hour segment is normally around 5 p.m., which I find a bit weird, because a large portion of Classic Rock listeners are now retired and a better time to host such an event would be around 10 a.m., or maybe 1 p.m., or even 9 p.m. Did you ever see a retiree's clock? Well, there really isn't such a thing, but it most likely would look like a clock for "Indian Time", something really odd like 12 is 3, 1 is 6, 2 is 9, 3 is 11, 4 is 8, and so forth....
Anyhow, this part of the Classic Rock format is the airtime that I enjoy listening to on the free radio the most. Not because the songs are so good or anything, it's just that they're hardly ever played on the airwaves. Some of the songs I even had on albums or 45s, but they've been lost to the blizzards of time and space. Great old music like "On the Border" by Al Stewart, "Grey Seal" by Elton John, "Midnight Maniac" by Krokus, "Voices Carry" by 'Til Tuesday, "Lake of Fire" by Nirvana, or "Yellow Ledbetter" by Pearl Jam. Of course, there are a zillion other songs that got airplay on what was once considered "Alternative Rock" stations way back when, but the selection for "Classic Rock" has been whittled down to a banality of humdrum and senseless noise. There were thousands of great bands that got a lot of airplay back in the day. Now there might be a hundred. Maybe even less, that get the lion's share of airplay on "Classic Rock" free radio.
If there is a difference, however, between the two stations in my area, it's in the disc jockeys for both stations. The formats for the music selections are one and the same, as I said. One of the stations, which goes by the nickname of an apex ambush predator, has some pretty cool middle-aged disc jockeys who all seem to be homegrown guys. A number of them have been fixtures on this particular station for decades. Their personalities range from being bikers to ne're-do-well poets and writers. I listen to this station a lot more than its competitor because I like its deejays. The other station (I'll just call it Y-104, that's not its name, by the way), seems to be manned by out-of-tune, manic martians and pencil-head geeks with about as much charisma as orange cones that dot the dilapidated roads around this ghost town. None of them seem to have been born and raised around where I live, a distressed and disadvantaged Rust Belt city that's seen better days. A hard-luck, hard-knocks sort of place....And Y-104 seems to have a higher turnover of its radio personalities than the station nicknamed after the apex ambush predator. Although I have never taken an empirical scientific study on this matter, I feel safe mentioning this because I know it's true. This isn't a big media market and some guy who moved here from a sunny, warm place would probably jump at the chance do without the snow; move back to a sunny, warm place; and meantime, an extra ten thousand a year would definitely be enticing, too. Can't really blame him, can we? Move! Get out of here!
And the station that's nicknamed after an apex ambush predator doesn't have some wiseguy automaton voice coming on between sets saying things like "If everything's coming your way, you're heading up the wrong lane of the Interstate," or "This entire audience is on Psychotropic Medication," or "Are you paranoid? Are they out to get you? Well no, but maybe they are and they just haven't found you yet." Truthfully, I'd rather listen to Flo the Progressive lady or the GEICO lizard than this deep-throated, businessman-from-beyond-the-grave type of voice. That mutherfucker needs to go! Meantime, the station nicknamed after the apex ambush predator doesn't have any such idiot entertainer. Maybe if the jocks on Y-104 weren't such nerds and weirdos, Y-104 would be able to get rid of this intimidating voice from hell. I like the other station because everything's denotative and non-threatening, just like a July fishing excursion in the sun. They play Classic Rock. That's why we listen to it. If we want to be entertained, we'll watch Adult Swim or Comedy Central. Just play the music, music man!
I like Country Music because new artists are played on almost any Country station around. Of course, old Country songs are played, too, even some outlaw country. Country Music channels have a much more eclectic mix of music, and are magnanimous and open-minded enough to include the new artists struggling to make names for themselves in the music industry. "Classic Rock" on the other hand, is filled with space hogs. Bands that were super-bands in the 70's, 80's, 90's, and 00's, that made so much money when they were performing in large stadiums that they hardly need any more money today. Of course, there isn't a lot of 70's music played anymore, maybe because it's become "Antique Rock". When's the last time you heard Santana? Or The Doobie Brothers? America? Hell, now America's elevator music!
Once upon a time, the radio was all free. Advertisers paid for ads between song sets and it was a drag listening to a beer commercial, then another commercial for a local car dealer, and then some public announcement from a hospital. But another set came on and there was always some really good music in the mix. I guess nothing's changed really, as far as "free radio" is concerned. But these days, there aren't any ads on "pay radio" but people have to pay for the radio. I'd never pay for radio. Radio should be like water or air. It should be free. Call me a socialist or a communist, maybe just an old fogy - I don't care. I'm not paying some techno-nerd multi-millionaire what I consider to be a pretty hefty sum just to listen to music. And now there are special electronic places where your musical tastes get psychoanalyzed by a Deus Ex Machina that will come up with exactly the kinds of songs I like. This is all too weird for my old bones. I don't want this type of psycho-babbled electronic ghost getting into my tortured brain.
Anyhow, Mark, the editor at The Spoof, will most likely add this story, if it makes the cut, sometime before noon. So I'd like to leave you with a song and a blessing by a new band that I've been sort of following and that I'm a fan of - so enjoy and have a great day!