College radio

For the most part we no longer listen to the radio — there are some stations that are exception to this but for the most part commercial radio stations are as necessary as Blockbuster Video rentals. It is something that exists for car rides when we have forgotten to bring along and for workplaces that don’t have iPod docks or satellite radio — which mine is one of.

For the most part there are three radio stations that we alternate between. Jack 96.9 plays a large variety of random music with no consistent theme. Q plays rock, or at least a limited selection of rock music ignoring a great deal of fantastic music and playing the same singles by the same bands over and over again.

Lately we have been listening to X, Calgary’s alternative radio station. In principle it is a good idea but in practice falls short. There is a healthy appetite for music that just doesn’t get played on other radio stations, that lives in a world where singles and radio play matter less and less. This is the idea behind college radio stations and charts, to play the music that is just mainstream enough that all the cool adults and teens and twentysomethings have heard it but that doesn’t grace the top 40s world that is dominated by Lady GaGa and Katy Perry.

The X plays lots of great music. There is a steady diet of Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers (the good stuff, not the weird stuff), Metric (lots of the good stuff but also some of the weird stuff) and Nirvana along with the alternatives hits of the day, which currently consist of Adele, Hollerado, the Broken Bells and Mother Mother. Unfortunately this diet is too steady — like eating mac and cheese every day it gets old fast and is not nutritionally balanced. They play one or two songs by each group over and over again.

For example Broken Bells have an entire album of songs, not just “The Ghost Inside”, as well as the entirety of Danger Mouse and the Shins’ catalogue if you really love them that much — which when it comes to James Mercer there is no such thing as loving them too much.

However, there is such thing as overkill. The involuntary forced repetition of certain hit singles ruins them no matter how much you like them on their own. When somebody needs to listen to a certain song over and over again they do it of their own free will and because they love a song. These radio stations destroy good songs by playing them too often.

Instead of being an alternative they are exactly what they aren’t supposed to be. They don’t play a wide variety of indie music just the most obvious stuff.

Thank god for iPods.

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