Friday, July 27, 2007

Deep, deep thoughts

I've been doing plenty of thinking. Yeah, I know, that's a bit out of the ordinary but after a call last week and one thing we overlooked last weekend, I've been thinking even more.

Some of you know how I obsessed back in May over the loss of our very own Drive 105 radio station. Alternative music is and has been my favorite for the better part of my life. I am passionate about it and I support the music I love.

All that thinking got me to some more thinking. (Notice a pattern?) Why doesn't alternative as a music format work in the Twin Cities? Milwaukee, WI has a great station that does well ratings-wise. San Diego, CA has two alternative stations which co-exist and do well, too. The San Diego situation even competes with a Cities 97-like station.

Those two metro areas are mentioned because they are of the same size (population-wise) as the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul). Why, then, has alternative radio in some form or another had upwards of half a dozen incarnations in the past two decades and is only currently heard on a non-commercial station (run by public radio behemoth Minnesota Public Radio) and a college station on the AM dial that, if asked about, nobody would be able to name?

Regardless of why Drive 105 is gone, it is gone. Its replacement, Love 105, seems to exist only as a thorn in the side of cross-town 'oldies' rival Kool 108. Sue, competition is great but in Minneapolis/St. Paul, that radio competition comes at a price. That price is the vacuum of one format.

The Twin Cities has relatively few radio stations for a market its size and tends to stick with one station per format. Oldies, while they have as much of a place as any other musical format, do nothing to expose listeners to new music. And if it's new music you seek out in Minnesota, it's the occasional rock track, weak and watered down pop music or hip-hop. To each their own but at least Drive 105 and their alternative format played new music. Sure, not all of their tunes were new but at least the little station gave listeners tastes of new tunes. ure, looking back, it was a flawed beast. It lacked presentation, an image, balls, testicular fortitude, polish, glitz, glamour and personality but its music was its voice.

Maybe alternative radio will make a return on the commercial radio dial, maybe it won't. Whatever the case, the fans are still there, waiting for the next big thing. While the fans are still remembering, we are also looking forward, knowing that in a world where things evolve quickly, our turn to experience something great can't be too far away.


Having said all that, it's time to taste some new music!

The Cliks - Oh Yeah

A tasty alt-rock treat I discovered courtesy of a radio station in Vermont. Enjoy the weekend!


Brendan said...

One word, Sornie: podcast.

As in, you should put one together. Your links are nice, but how great would it be to, say, download an hour of "Sornie's Serenades" every day/week/so often?

Enemy of the Republic said...

A drag about the station--here in Philly, we have one poser, but unless you can get college stations, you are screwed. I have spent a lot of time where you live and I know that station. That is a loss.

Enemy of the Republic said...

You'd make a great podcaster, judging on the wit in your blog.

Sornie said...

Hmmmm, I DO love to hear my own voice...

Mykel said...

I don't think the Twin Cities music listening public has a very strong 'Alternative Music' following, at least as defined by commercial radio.

We have a huge and varied local music scene that is, and has, been going strong for the past 2+ decades. The local music often falls in the 'Alt. Music' vein (as vague as the title Alternative Music is), but yet it wasn't often found on commercial radio in the area.

RadioK does an incredible job of playing local music, and although I wish it was on FM, it's still a great radio station. The Current does an OK job of playing popular local music. Without giving much of a nod to the local music scene, you'll lose a good portion of potential listeners. (There is also KFAI, but I am not as familiar with that station)

I was never a fan of Drive105.. It was always a little too easy listening for my tastes. It rarely presented music I found interesting, and often played music I didn't like the first time I heard it - 5 years ago.

I believe these are often the standard complaints regarding Drive105.

I think the age group commercial radio stations are trying to capture with their alt. radio formats are missing the mark in the twin cities area. As a whole we are more adventurous musically. We need people who truly love music to DJ, and for those people to have some say and control in what is played.

Mass marketed radio thrown at the twin cities music audience will simply fail.