Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Cultural Diversion: Radio, Radio 

One indicator of a region's quality of life -- besides being able to produce healthy drinking water for its citizens (and, sigh, who before the past 48 hours would've pegged the over/under on mentions of "Phoenix" and "Third World" in the same sentence at something near triple digits?) -- is the quality of the region's radio stations. By which I mean, of course, how well the radio serves not-yet-middle-aged-slightly-elitist-rockists like myself.

So I've been occasionally pleased to listen to the Edge 103.9, which has, I don't know how exactly, morphed itself into an "alternative rock" station that's not entirely without merit. I actually recognize -- even own -- some of the current songs they play, and they'll occasionally play some good cuts from the '90s.

But compared to a new station in the Twin Cities, the Edge is like those people from high school who decide they want to remain 18 forever, including listening to all those tunes the 18-year-olds still listen to.

A few days ago, Minnesota Public Radio -- yes, public radio, my friends -- started "The Current," whose playlist (a loose word because I don't think they've repeated any song within a 24-hour period yet) seems tailor-made for those not-yet-middle-aged-slightly-elitist-rockists like myself. The Shins! The Thrills! Wilco! On the mother-freakin' radio! Mixed in with some oldies (classic R.E.M., Beck, etc.) and some very oldies (Dean Martin, Billie Holiday)! And good local (Minnesota) music! Reminds me of the very, very classic Rev-105 radio station whose status as Best Radio Station Ever could be in jeopardy. (Of course, with a lot of talent who worked at Rev-105 a decade ago, that's not surprising.) These are the people from high school who decided they wanted to listen to new music, but not necessarily music for 18-year-olds.

Non-commercial. And they stream, too. Sigh...

Genuinely interesting new music is tough to come by. Since KROQ-FM out here got bought out by Infinity Broadcasting (about 1988 or so), they haven't been nearly as good... Webcaster (and acquaintance) Rusty Hodge with his SOMA FM has some good stuff from time to time if you like ambient. He's started a petition to get his channels on XM Radio. I like the idea of XM, but I'm not sure it's worth $10/month. OTOH, you can hear every baseball game ....
I'll have to check out Soma FM -- I'm not a big ambient fan (though I liked the Eno CD I heard a while back), but he's got other channels, too.

I thought about getting XM -- the baseball and ACC contracts were nice, and their music selection is, of course, infinitely better than terrestrial radio. I just couldn't figure out when I was going to listen to $10 worth of radio per month. Maybe when the capital cost of the system goes down...
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