Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Post 2625 - Radio Comment

Yeah. Let's do this. The last time I ranted about radio, I was taken to task by Bobby Mac and a couple others.  More recently, Domink Diamond expressed disappointment for my stance about Radio 965, when I don't recall stating  much of anything about that station. Let's see whom I can piss off this time.

Late last week the Herald ran an article regarding Newcap's intervention over Seaside FM's application to the CRTC to increase its power such that people here in Timberlea will have a chance to pick up that fine station run by my friend Wayne Harrett.

I am not going to rehash the article. You can read it for yourself. I do find it passing strange, however, that Newcap would give a flying fig newton about  a small community radio station whose desired demographic is nothing that Newcap has ever  coveted. One can speculate on why.

Anyway, Frank  Cameron in the latest Frank Magazine wrote a pretty good refutation on that article, but made a couple of comments that I feel I must comment on.

He states, quite rightly, that radio stations play the same 800 or 900 songs "ad nauseam". I don't like it any more than he does, or than you do. There are songs that have been played on the radio so much that it would seem to me that every possible drop of entertainment value would have been wrung out of them by now, but they are still played. I am referring to anything by the Eagles, the half dozen Beatles and Rolling Stones songs one hears, and hoary old chest nuts like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Patio Lanterns". As I like to tell people, when  Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen" was a hit, I WAS seventeen. Literally.

But I digress.

Radio stations have conservative play lists because, whenever they stray from the tried and true and familiar, people call in and complain. The songs I listed above? If the Q stopped playing them, or Jack FM didn't play any of that stuff, or The Wave eschewed that material, listeners to those stations would rebel. As my friend Dan Barton told me last year, there are some songs you can't kill. You might want to take them behind the woodshed and blow them away like Old  Yeller, but those songs will just come back from beyond the grave and make it back to the stations' playlists. I don't like it any more than you do.

Frank Cameron also states that today's radio personalities lack personality. He takes issue with the station that recently burned $5000 in cash. It was NOT a station in Halifax; rather, it was a Newcap station in Alberta.

I am not going to defend the burning of cash. I do defend the jocks Frank tars with the broad-brush comment that they have no personality. Disregarding the music they play, I find all of the jocks entertaining in their own way. The Q104 morning show is top-notch, and the Rant Line is a great delight to listen to, even though they have greatly cut back on the cussing. I love that Griff and Caroline are back on the air as much as I hate that it was at the expense of Chris Lawrence's and Lisa Blackburn's jobs. I think I would sell my soul to the devil, sacrifice a goat to Ba'al, or sleep with a porcupine,  in order to have Neil Spence's voice. Brad and Peter and Moya make it look so easy. I love Kate Milton's irreverence. That Denyse Sibley and Brad Hart do their respective morning shows by themselves (except for news hits) speaks to their level of talent. Floyd and Chris at Live 105 are forging a new radio show and it is fun to hear them try new things unheard before in Halifax radio. Not all of it will work, but a lot of it will. Christina Fitzpatrick is the new PD at Radio 965, which means I won't be able to hear her on the radio very much any more, which disappoints me because she's a wonderful talent. You haven't lived until you have listened to Courtney Amirault's "Late Lunch" on Live 105. She was born to do that show. It will be a loss when Domink Diamond leaves Radio 965 at the end of this week. Is there a better interviewer than Don Connolly?

I could go on and on, but then this post would be in danger of running as long as the James Taylor interview. I don't want to leave anybody out. Suffice it to say that I listen to pert near every station in the market. Drives Patricia crazy as we make our way to work or our way home at night, as I switch from one station to another, but I do it because I love the medium of radio so much that I am afraid I will miss something neat on a particular station.

I love Frank Cameron. There should be a Frank Cameron shrine at the CBC radio building, which is adjacent to the Don Tremaine shrine, which is cheek-by-jowl with the Pat Connolly shrine. While I agree with his frustration over the Seaside FM power increase delay, I can't agree  with him over his stance regarding the jocks who toil in the trenches every day. They work really hard to put out the best product they can, day-by-day. I am in awe of them all. That they are constrained in what they can play, and what they can say, and how they can say it, and can still put a smile on my face or make me think about the point they want to make, just speaks to how good they are.  And I know that Frank Cameron knows that because he's been there.

All right. Whom have I ticked off?  Bring it on! I can take it.  I'm a tough sumbitch.

See you tomorrow.



Ken said...

I heard about a Calgary station burning $5000 (in a crematorium of all places) but not a Halifax station. Crazy waste of money that could have gone to a good cause.

As to ticking people off, it's your blog. Say whatever you choose as long as you don't slander anybody and perform your due diligence in fact checking.

nicolle.bellefontaine said...

As a person who left the mic during the epic lay offs of Summer 2014, I have this to say about 'lack of personality' in Metro radio: there is no lack...merely a lack of air-real estate for said personality. I can't think of music station in this market that doesn't push NON-STOP music outside of a morning show. HOW can you judge the personalities on a radio station when they are literally only given the time available in the intro of a song? 5 secs does not an emotional/intimate/funny/memorable radio moment make? Especially when part of that 5 secs is eaten by the directive of the station brand statement.

I felt creatively smothered by the tight restrictions of the music-intensive format. And as such, when someone asks if I miss it or think I'll ever go back on air I have to say a flat out 'NO'. Because as much as I would like to hold out hope that more personality 'space' will be incorporated into radio....well, I just don't see those days on the horizon.

As for putting your opinions out here on YOUR blog, Bev...keep at it! Anyone who can't take criticism, needs to put on their big boy panties.

This business is for those who are warriors for the spirit of the medium...cuz, Radio is still a fantastically creative medium in its very essence!

Part-time Faculty at NSCC Waterfront and full-time Den Mother where her audience is all ears (and tails and sloppery kisses and fur and...)

scott s. said...

HAHAHAHA!!!! You know Bev, I've never been a fan of your interviews. It's often mainly because it's more of a radio fan slant then a indepth interview trying to get into the person behind the on air talent. That's just me perhaps.

This comment however, I'm pretty much in agreement with everything you said. Talent is on air talent. there are different levels of talent depending on the size of market. Some make it to the "big leagues" of major markets like Toronto, Montreal, others stay in Halifax, other stay in smaller markets. It used to be like sports, you work your way up.

That was largely destroyed by technology in the early 90s and automation. People move around more and more and it's about where you can get a gig, and with the kids who work for next to nothing to get a gig, it just adds to the challenge for anyone to get one and hold onto it.

As such, I look at any talent on air as a "flavor" Some flavors you like, some you don't, but that doesn't mean it's bad.

I agree with Nicolle in that it can be very hard to have a personality in a music intensive format these days. 40-45 years ago, that's what it was all about with the old Boss Radio formats. back then "Riding the Ramp" (the intro up to the vocal) and saying something interesting was very much an art form. These days, it's a lost art, but I don't know how that style would be accepted these days. Also, is anyone taught to be a true "personality" these days? Or is it all being a talking head and hopefully you'll evolve into more.

Cameron is just blowing off steam. Seaside and those who volunteer there, it's their universe where they please many people. Those that close to it can easily get a little frustrated. It's just another station on my dial like everything else in the HRM, on satellite, and my own online radio stream, which is a glorified jukebox, but I just threw in a bunch of mp3's, found some free software made a loose playlist and away we go. It's an excuse to play with all the vintage radio studio gear and audio I have collected over the years. I don't take it too seriously.

For Commerical radio. a limited music universe is standard, because most of the listeners are not music fans. They want the hits, classic hits, etc. repeatedly. It's been like that for over 60 years. Personally I don't necessarily like that, but I understand it. When you program for commerical radio, you program for the LCD.

When you're dealing with people in the Radio Industry, you're dealing with egos. Some larger then others, or smaller then others, some are great people that will do anything for you and are great top work with, but the ego is still there. You're bound to PO someone. God knows i've done it over the years. I look back now and laugh at it. Life is too short to be too uptight.

Bevboy said...

Thanks, I think, Scott. I am continuing to do the interviews because I enjoy hearing what these folks have to say. As you point out, I take it from the POV as a fan. I don't know much of anything about the technical aspects of radio like running the boards, the actual equipment that is used, and so on. Not what I want to talk about.

If you want to discuss those things, I suggest you contact radio folks and approach them for interviews.

And my interviews are not "in depth"? My goodness, they're 40 pages or so if you print them out. Hardly cursory.

Anyway, glad you liked the radio comment post. And I agree with everything Nicolle states as well.


scott s. said...

Fair enough. It makes more sense now that you explain it that way!

I love reading the interviews on Star Trek.com as that's when I think of an indepth interview. A balance between detail and editing. Again that is just me. It's good something is chronicled.

Talent is such a dime a dozen it seems in the industry today, it's good to make note of who's around.

Bevboy said...

I've been told that people applied for the NSCC radio and tv course and cited my interviews as inspiration. People around the country at least know about me and these interviews. Just wish they knew about Newbie in the same way. :-)

Anyway, glad to see that people are reading at least some of my blog posts. Six comments on one post makes this one of the most commented on posts I've ever done.