Edge 102 ~ CFNY


Alan Cross' Reply

Alan Cross' ReplyEarlier this week, I wrote Alan Cross, CFNY Edge 102 Program Director, regarding this year's Edgefest line up. He wrote me back and I posted my original email and his reply.

What I didn't mention was the fact we continued our conversation. I replied to his reply and so on... Below you will find my second email to Alan Cross and his second reply.

Thanks for the prompt and honest reply. I appreciate it.

It seems pretty clear to me your station made a concerted effort to remove Good Charlotte from the playlist. The album may have been played, but that's never stopped you from continuing to play previous hits from bands like Sum41, Blink182, Green Day and The Offspring. Despite the fact you claim they were insanely popular with a significant portion of your audience, not a trace of them can now be heard on 102.1. I believe it became apparent they were the wrong genre.

You hit the nail on the head when you wrote "the band can still sell a ton of tickets". I'm afraid this is all about popularity and making money, and radio is a business that's looking to maximize profits, so there's nothing wrong with that. I just wish you weren't promoting your signature concert series with a band that has obviously been eliminated 100% from your playlist. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I hate it when business interferes with the integrity of the music....almost as much as I hate the weak sound from Good Charlotte the kids are eating up.

This rant is officially over. Thanks for reading (or deleting, I'll never know). I hope you do one day make "The Ongoing History of New Music" available via the web as either a downloadable MP3 or even streamed so I can listen while I work. And keep playing the hell out of Nirvana...but try to add a little more Alice in Chains in the mix.

Thanks,
Mike

p.s. When I was 15 I worked a game booth at the CNE. You used to broadcast from there remotely. You were very cool to us - I used to bum a load of CFNY stickers from you. I'm glad you're back at the Edge.

And Alan Cross' reply...

Yep. We're all about making money. Seriously. This is the raison d'etre of any commercial radio station. BUT we're also trying to walk that fine line between art and commerce. We want to create great radio AND satisfy our owners at the same time. That's a tough, tough job, but for the most part, I think we do a pretty good job.

Keep in mind that musical relevance is highly subjective. What's crap to you is gold to someone else--and vice versa.

One more thing: Edgefest also features Alexisonfire, Jersey and Something Corporate, three highly credible bands that don't get a lot of airplay (yet) from us for different reasons. It's all for balance, you know?

I won't bore you with our further exchanges. I just thought I'd post this final exchange in an effort to close the communication loop. I still think selecting Good Charlotte as the headlining act was an act of desparation. Think of all the bands that would have made more sense. There are dozens, and apparently none were available or willing to play. They might as well have prodded Hootie and the Blowfish out of retirement to "rock" the Amphitheatre... It makes as much sense to me.

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Alan Cross' Reply

Alan Cross' ReplyAs I mentioned earlier tonight, I wrote CFNY Edge 102 Program Director Alan Cross regarding this year's Edgefest line up. To the dude's credit, he's already written me back.

Below is the email I sent Alan Cross.

Hello Alan,

I've been a faithful listener of CFNY/Edge 102 for fifteen years now and I've attended several Edgefests. I was listening at 7:15 this morning to find out who would be on this year's bill and especially who would be headlining. I thought last year's lineup with The Hip, OLP, Finger Eleven and Sloan was particularly awesome. It wasn't long before my heart sunk to the ground.

Good Charlotte represents everything your station isn't. They have absolutely no edge. They wear black and make up and try to act "punk" when they're as popified as Matchbox 20. Their target audience is pre-teen girls who think they're cute and deep. I listen to a great deal of "modern rock", and I find the weak Good Charlotte sounds completely unlistenable.

Musical taste is subjective, so I'm not writing you to bitch about the weak lineup for Edgefest 2004, I'm writing to alert you to your obvious hypocrisy. I listen for several hours a day, and I'm well aware of what songs you play and don't play. I know I can expect a Nirvana song every hour and I know you've stopped playing Good Charlotte all together. I applaude this decision, as they are hardly an edgy rock that fits your format. They are as far from The White Stripes and The Strokes as you can get. I'm sure you stopped playing them because you realized your listeners don't like them and they are merely pop dressed in black. Promoting them as headliners for your Edgefest concert is just pathetic. You won't even play their music for heaven's sake.

On a more positive note, I find your "Ongoing History of New Music" to be one of the finest programs on the radio. I wish the episodes could be downloaded/streamed online. I maintain a blog and comment often on your great radio station and music in general. You'll find it here: http://torontomike.com

I'll leave you with words from the immortal Chris Rock following another horrible performance by Good Charlotte at the MTV Video Music Awards. "Good Charlotte? More like mediocre Green Day."

Mike

At 21:40 tonight, I received the following reply from Alan Cross.

Thanks for the input--and for your honesty, you deserve a reply.

Pulling together a lineup for Edgefest is getting more and more difficult due to competition from hundreds of other radio show festivals in the US and dozens of big-money European festivals. How we end up with the lineup that we do is a long, long story.

Good Charlotte was part of the playlist until sometime last year and, believe it or not, they were insanely popular with a significant portion of our audience. We stopped playing them because the album had run its course and we moved on to other things. That being said, the band can still sell a ton of tickets--something that we need to do if we were going to make the thing profitable and thus worthwhile (again, it's FAR more complicated than just booking a bunch of cool bands. Trust me.) The drawing power of Good Charlotte is enough to help us pay for Something Corporate, Jet, Jersey, Billy Talent and the rest of the lineup.

I know this probably doesn't help much, but there you have it. And if we manage to sell out the show this week (which is something we think we'll do), we'll have enough cash to maybe do something else this summer. We'll see.

Alan C

There you have it. Popularity wins again. They may not be good, but they're popular and there are bills to pay. Another triumph for The S Factor. Still, I appreciate Alan taking the time to reply with such honesty. I met Alan Cross when I was a 15 year old working at the CNE and he was cool then too.

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Bad Charlotte

Edgefest 2004I'm still stewing over the fact Good Charlotte is headlining this year's Edgefest. Last year we had The Tragically Hip, Our Lady Peace, Sloan and Finger Eleven. Good Charlotte simply doesn't cut it.

I could go on a rant here, but I thought I'd post something I posted to the Smells Like Sour page last week. On the "Hold On" page, I mentioned the fact that every time I read the Good Charlotte pages on SLS I die just a little. Kelli responded with this "why do u die "just a little bit" when u see the gc pages?" Below is my response.

Kelli, I'm glad you asked that question.

I love music. One of my favourite genres of music is rock. I love The White Stripes, System of a Down, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, The Tragically Hip, Nirvana, Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine, whatever. You get the idea.

A few years back, a song entitled "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" began getting heavy airplay both on the radio and Muchmusic, our national video station here in Canada. My ears immediately decided this sound was weak. It sounded like pretend rock - far more pop than punk. What really irked me is I accidentally caught a special on Muchmusic about this band and they wore black and makeup and acted like they were punk when they were clearly coming across as punks.

I respect people's rights to listen to whatever the hell they want, but I'm the dude who actually performs administrative duties on this very website. That means I'm the dude who has to go on here every few days to sort through the dozens of Good Charlotte submissions and copycat bands that make my ears bleed.

That's why I die just a little each time I read this page or the thousand other Good Charlotte pages on this site. I cringe reading the praise you pre-teens heap on this crapola band. Chris Rock said it best following a pathetic Good Charlotte performance on the MTV Music Video Awards. "Good Charlotte? More like mediocre Green Day".

That's my two cents about this band - why they're so popular I'll never understand. Then again, the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync were extremely popular too, so maybe it does make sense.

The people at CFNY Edge 102 should be ashamed of themselves.

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Crossover Hit

Crossover HitsI was reading the Toronto Sun this weekend when I came across The Chum Chart, Chum FM's top 30 songs of the week.

This got me wondering what songs might appear on this chart and CFNY Edge 102's Thursday 30 simultaneously. Chum FM is a middle of the road graveyard for adult comtemporary crap while CFNY Edge 102 claims to play new rock with an edge to it. For a song to appear on both charts it would have to have a great deal of crossover appeal.

Only one song turns the trick. This song is number one on the Thursday 30 and number two on the Chum Chart. It can be none other than "Hey Ya!" by Outkast, a definite crossover smash.

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Define "New"

Defining NewThis past weekend I heard a DJ on CFNY Edge 102 announce in all sincerity the following: "New Rock First from Edge 102 this is Nickelback with Someday". I've also heard them use this "New Rock First" intro in the past week while introducing Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" and Three Days Grace's "I Hate Everything About You".

How are they defining "new" exactly? I realize "new" is a relative term, but in the world of music shouldn't they refrain from using it before introducing a song that was on heavy rotation four months ago? "Someday" is hardly "new rock first". In fact, as a single it's already been played and their follow-up single "Figured You Out" is currently getting spun about a dozen times a day.

Still, this pales in comparison to the stunt pulled by "The New VR". CKVR changed its name to "The New VR" about a decade ago. One would assume they'd drop the "new" part after about six months or so, but it's still there. "The New VR" has become the old VR.

Then there's the tale of Mojo Radio, "The All-New AM 640". I don't know if they've finally dropped the "All-New" part of their intro, but I heard it fairly recently and they've been Mojo Radio for about two years now.

Remembering when "new" actually meant new, this is "The New torontomike.com"

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Stop Treading on My Tunage!

Pet PeeveIt happened again this morning. It's been happening a lot lately and it's got to stop. It's just not right.

The deejays from the Dean Blundell Show on CFNY Edge 102 this morning talked all over the first 30 seconds of The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony". Forever this has been a pet peeve of mine. I want to hear a decent song in its entirety without a deejay jabbering all over the intro and outro. CFNY Edge 102 has been extremely careless in this regard lately and they should know better.

Sure, "Bittersweet Symphony" has a rather long instrumental opening, but that's not license for a deejay to yak away until the words kick in. "Bittersweet Symphony" is a song I happen to dig and part of the beauty of this tune is that opening melody. I almost wrote an entry in disgust on New Year's Eve upon hearing Martin Streek tread all over tunes on the Top 102 of 2003 countdown show, but then I got distracted. Streek went so far as to trample over lyrics thus violating the cardinal sin of radio. Shame, shame.

Out of respect to the listener it would be awfully nice if deejays made a concerted effort to say what they have to say before playing a song and waiting until the final note is completed before talking again. It would make this devoted listener a much happier man.

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Top 10 in the World?

Top 10?CFNY Edge 102 airs a promo every once in a while that claims they are "One of the ten most listened to stations in the world". Every time I hear it, I wonder how they can justify such an outlandish claim.

I read the most recent BBM Ratings for Toronto radio stations, and CFNY Edge 102 can safely claim they are one of the ten most listened to stations in the GTA. They aren't number one, but they're in decent shape. The Greater Toronto Area, however, is not the world. CFNY Edge 102 shouldn't be able to claim they're one of the ten most listened to stations in Canada let alone the entire planet.

A visit to the CFNY Edge 102 website yielded no further details. They don't reference the promo anywhere. I did some further digging and I think I know what this promo is referring to.

Arbitron maintains a list of Webcast Ratings. "Arbitron Webcast Ratings is a server-side measurement, which captures all tuning to participating streamed media channels by compiling a near census of Internet tuning sessions." It's difficult to access these charts, because this information requires a paid subscription, but I was able to gander at a series of the Arbitron Webcast Ratings top 75 as part of some of their news releases. This release has CFNY Edge 102 listed at a healthy #39 with 148,798 hours of total time spent listening in February of 2003. I had to go back to their chart of February 2001 to find CFNY Edge 102 in the top 10 when they were 10th. It's my belief that CFNY Edge 102 took this chart listing them as the tenth most streamed station on the world wide web in order to justify their "One of the ten most listened to stations in the world" promo.

Their spin doctors deserve a round of applause for that one. At one time they were possibly one of the ten most listened to stations on the web, but when you factor in people listening to radio stations on actual radios, their statement doesn't come close to holding up. It still sounds impressive though, doesn't it?

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Classic Alternative

Classic AlternativeI just read an article from the New York Times that reveals the latest radio format sweeping the United States. They call it "classic alternative" and several stations have switched to the format in the past month.

"Classic alternative" is essentially music from the early 90s like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Weezer, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, and so on. In other words, my kind of music. To quote the article, "Like the classic rock format that started in the mid-1980's to cater to aging baby boomers, classic alternative - with new songs from retro-alternative bands like the White Stripes and the Strokes thrown into the mix on some stations - appeals to Generation X'ers who are beginning to show some gray." That's me!

CFNY Edge 102, my current favourite station, is pretty close to "classic alternative" as it is. They play a great deal of current modern rock hits but still hit you with a Nirvana track or two just about every hour. Just the other day I was listening to "In Bloom" and realized they're playing Nirvana as often now as they did ten years ago. I also hear a great deal of older material from bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Weezer and Soundgarden. For all intents and purposes, CFNY Edge 102 is "classic alternative" save for the wider scope of new hits being spun. Is a truer form of "classic alternative" in 102.1's future?

This new format is projected right at a guy like me and I dig it. Being catered to is always a good thing.

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Matthew Goode

Matthew GoodeListening to CFNY Edge 102 today, I heard an advertisement for Chasing Liberty starring Mandy Moore. The advertisement gave me a jolt by announcing this was a film starring Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode. Remember, you can't tell Goode is spelled with an "e" on the radio.

I was a fan of the Matthew Good Band and saw them in concert three times. I frequently spin their Underdogs disc and wondered to myself if Matthew Good had taken up acting since his band broke up. Although it turned out to be a different guy with the same sounding name as the Canadian rocker, I'm certain the advertisement was attempting to mislead the CFNY Edge 102 listeners intentionally.

Think about it. Mandy Moore is a 19 year old former pop princess starring in a fluffy teenage romantic comedy. The target audience for this flick is teens and pre-teens who enjoy the music of Moore and her compatriots Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. This target audience will not be reached by advertising on CFNY Edge 102.

CFNY Edge 102 does play a lot of Matthew Good though. Matthew Good fans listen to CFNY Edge 102 and may be inclined to check out a movie he was starring in. I believe we were intentionally deceived!

The movie is a dog with fleas by the way. Bill Muller of the Arizona Republic says it best, "Not a pleasant way to spend an hour and 45 minutes."

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Top 102 Songs of 2003

Best Songs of 2003On New Year's Eve I posted my five favourite tunes of 2003. My only rule was that the song had to have been released in 2003. Songs released in 2002 that experienced most of their airplay in 2003 were ineligible. To refresh your memory, here was my top five.

  1. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
  2. The Distillers - Drain The Blood
  3. The Strokes - 12:51
  4. Stone Temple Pilots - All In The Suit That You Wear
  5. Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl

Later that night, CFNY Edge 102 played their top 102 songs of 2003. Below I will reveal my feelings about their top five. Unlike my list, CFNY Edge 102 did not insist that the song be released in 2003. Here are their top five and my comments.

  1. Linkin Park - Somewhere I Belong
    I'm rather shocked this is ranked as high as #1. I enjoy Linkin Park as much as the next guy, but this was only the third best song off of Meteora to receive heavy air play in 2003. I'll take the far superior "Faint" or "Numb" any day of the week. They were ranked #9 and #29 respectively. Does anyone really think "Somewhere I Belong" is a better song than "Faint"? If you do, write me.
  2. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
    What more can I say about the tune I had ranked as my favourite of 2003. The haunting simplicity of that bass line still finds its way into my psyche on a regular basis. The entire Elephant CD is great, but this was one helluva lead single. Awesome tune.
  3. Audioslave - Like A Stone
    I'm a huge fan of this entire CD. It's fair to say this band had me at hello. When I first read that the members of Rage Against the Machine were forming a group with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, it was music to my ears. I'm a huge fan of both Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden, and Audioslave didn't disappoint. I too read the mediocre reviews, but then I gave it a spin. "Chohise" was one of my favourite tracks of 2002 (along with Nirvana's "You Know You're Right", Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows" and Johnny Cash's "Hurt") and this melodic trip ranks right up there as well. Of course, all songs off this CD did not qualify for my top five, having been released in November of 2002.
  4. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Can't Stop
    Lord knows CFNY Edge 102 played this song enough, but I just couldn't get into it. I liked it, but I didn't love it. It was a catchy ditty that I found myself singing each time I heard it, but I can't say it deserved a ranking as high as this.
  5. Three Days Grace - I Hate Everything About You
    And now for the CanCon portion of our chart. Three Days Grace are a Toronto-based trio originally from Norwood, Ontario. Don't get me wrong, "I Hate Everything About You" was a great tune, but the fifth best song of the year? Not if they're from Texas. Naturally, CFNY Edge 102 is going to favour a young Toronto-based band like this, and there's nothing wrong with that. A top five without any Canadian representation would be just wrong!

There you have it, my reaction to CFNY Edge 102's top five songs of 2003. If you're curious where the rest of my top five ranked on their chart, they had The Distillers at #94, The Strokes at #34, Stone Temple Pilots at #64 and Jet at #31.

I'm on my way back to the hospital now. If all goes well, James will be coming home tomorrow. I'm just looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, something I've yet to do this year. I'll update you all on his status tomorrow.

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