Radio


Should They Play Photograph?

MusicFor a new rock station that claims to have edge, CFNY Edge 102 sometimes picks a song to spin that doesn't make any sense to me. Currently on high rotation when it has no business being on the station is Nickelback's "Photograph".

First, I should fully disclose my relationship with Nickelback. Following their release of "The State", I was a very big fan. "Breathe", "Old Enough" and "Worthy To Say" were top notch tunes and rocked. I was excited when I got a chance to see them on the small stage at Molson Park during an Edgefest and I returned the next year to see them close the show on the big stage.

"How You Remind Me" was the song that altered Nickelback's path. It was really, really poppy and sounded as much at home on CHUM-FM as it did on CFNY Edge 102. It ended 2002 as the most played song of the year on North American radio. Then, the following album contained a cover version of "How You Remind Me" called "Someday", and Nickelback consummated their marriage to pop-rock ballads that soccer moms dig. Their new "How You Remind Me Of Someday" is "Photograph", and it's not rock. It's not even a cool rock ballad like Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" or Staind's "Outside". It's just a cheesy ballad produced for mass appeal and commercial objectives.

This is why I find it puzzling that CFNY Edge 102 has embraced it so. Is it because the band is Canadian? Is it because they played previous Nickelback songs? Is it because their audience really likes "Photograph"?

"Photograph" is the new "The Reason". Actually, it's not nearly that bad. Compared to "The Reason", "Photograph" is "Smells Like Teen Spirit". That's frightening.

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Humble Sans Fred

RadioI've written about Humble & Fred before. For over a decade the Humble and Fred Show, mornings on CFNY Edge 102, was the radio program to which I awoke. I stopped listening when they moved to the short-lived Mojo 640 and haven't heard a peep out of them since they moved to Mix 99.9 a couple of years ago.

Having said that, I was sad to learn today that Fred Patterson has been fired. Mediocre ratings led to this move and now the Humble Howard Morning Show is sans Fred.

It's been years since I've heard them, but I'll miss The Humble and Fred Show. Geeks that groove.

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1991 Weekend

RadioCFNY Edge 102 is having a 1991 weekend, playing the best tracks from that year. As fully disclosed in my first blog entry, I'm partial to the years 1991-1994, the days between the release of Nirvana's Nevermind and the moment a self-inflicted gunshot pierced Kurt Cobain's brain. Of course, it helps that I was sixteen when 1991 rolled around and twenty when we said goodbye to 1994.

Without allowing a band to place twice, below are my five favourite songs from this era.

  • Lithium - Nirvana
  • Bring the Noise - Anthrax/Public Enemy
  • Hunger Strike - Temple of the Dog
  • Black - Pearl Jam
  • One - U2

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My 94.3

iRiverI just bought an iRiver AFT-100 FM Transmitter to complement my new favourite toy. I had heard bad things about FM transmitters in big cities, but so far I'm having a great deal of success playing my MP3 player on 94.3.

Many moons ago I dreamt about a day when I could hear virtually anything I wanted to in my car with the press of a button. Today, I have 5 GB of my favourite high quality MP3s at my disposal while I commute. I'm a very, very happy man.

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Playing What They Want

CBCMove over Jack. There's a new station in town playing what they want, and you can bet their playlist is waaaay bigger than yours. Tuning into CBC Radio One this afternoon, 99.1 on my FM dial, I was hit with an eclectic mix of tunes. They were playing a little classical, some Dylan, a taste of the blues, Arcade Fire, rap, you name it.

You see, the broadcasters at the CBC are locked out and they're filling the day with songs. Other than an hourly national news and weather forecast, it's all tunes all the time. You never know what you'll hear next.

Now this is a Jack I could get into.

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Whose iPod? Not Mine!

RadioI just read yet another article about the current Jack/Bob/Mike radio format explosion in North America. I've written about Jack before, a format that claims to "play what we want". In most of these articles, there's always some Jack FM PR guy who says it's just like listening to your iPod on shuffle.

Ok, whose iPod are we talking about here? It's certainly not my iPod (or iRiver as the case may be). Most of those tunes aren't on my iPod, in fact, they seem to be missing about 99% of the tunes I do have on my iPod. And besides, if someone wanted to listen to their iPod on shuffle, they could do just that, right?

In reality, this is a carefully selected mix of safe songs that are systematically aired in a seemingly random sequence that's anything but. It's not your iPod or my iPod, unless your iPod is full of Elton John hits, sappy Phil Collins tunes and a few "best of the 80s" compilations. Sure, once in a while they really go crazy by throwing an AC~DC tune or (gasp!) Bob Marley song in the mix, but it's still well orchestrated and not your iPod on shuffle.

That is all. I'm going back to my iRiver...on random.

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Regional News From Killarney

RadioJames and I just spent three days and two nights camping under the stars in Killarney Provincial Park. We swam, caught frogs, hiked the Cranberry Bog Trail and took in Mother Nature during one of the sunniest and hottest weekends in Killarney history. Most importantly, I didn't have access to a computer or a television, forcing me to actually unplug for an entire weekend. This was good.

I did, however, bring along my MP3 player which has an FM tuner. At night, with James sound asleep in his little Hot Wheels sleeping bag, I'd tune in CBC radio from Sudbury and listen to the news. I just wanted to ensure everything would be where we left it when we returned. From the moment we left our driveway in Toronto to the moment we pulled into our camp site in Killarney, I drove exactly 398 kilometres. 398 kilometres North West, listening to a feed from Sudbury, and guess what regional news I heard? That's right, they're getting Toronto regional news up there. In addition to national and international updates, I was being fed details of life in the big smoke, including updates on the garbage strike and local crimes.

I was grateful for the Toronto news as it kept me in the loop, but you've got to wonder what Sudbury natives feel about their news being bogged down by that shooting at Jane and Finch or the possibility of a garbage strike in a city 398 kilometres away.

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An Oxymoron

RadioAll week long CFNY Edge 102 has been airing "The Best Of The Dean Blundell Show" in the mornings.

That's a serious oxymoron. I tune in for the tunes, but when that trio starts yakking I'm out of there. I've read articles that suggest they're quite popular in their target demographic. That's further proof that I'm getting old and they don't want me listening any more. Thankfully we have Bookie in the afternoons and great songs throughout the day.

In my humble opinion, there is no "best of" for that annoying morning show. Less talk, more rock.... please.

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Not For You

PJPearl Jam tickets were available to Inside Edge members at 10:00 this morning. I'm an Inside Edge member, and I was ready at 09:58 to secure the presale password and hit Ticketmaster.ca to score tix to their September show at the ACC. As you may know, I'm quite the fan.

At 10:00 on the dot the password was revealed to be "alive". I immediately hit the web and tried to purchase tickets. I was damn quick on the draw and had my brother hammering away at things on his end to improve the odds. Every time we were told our tickets were not available. We weren't timing out or having trouble connecting, we were being told our tickets were already gone.

We kept trying, assuming this was a bug and would be fixed, but the CFNY Edge 102 website put up a message saying the presale tickets were sold out. I'm not buying it. There's something very fishy about this. We were buying with the right password only seconds after they went on sale and it's just not possible that these tickets were gone by then. I've been down this road dozens of times, and I know when I'm being screwed. The Inside Edge advert for this promotion says "Being an Inside Edge member is pretty cool. You can win stuff and take advantage of some great perks. Like this, the Inside Edge pre-sale to buy Pearl Jam tickets before anyone else!" This, my friends, is 100% marketing bullshit and us true Pearl Jam fans were royally screwed.

On the bright side, and there's little I can say about this right now, I may just be watching this show from the side of the stage with a sweet backstage pass. This may or may not include a personal audience with Ed Vedder and the experience of my life. I've already said too much and shall write more about this likelihood on September 20. This doesn't, however, excuse the crap I went through at 10:00 this morning.

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The Name's Jack, Jack Schitt

RadioIt wasn't that long ago that 92.9 WBUF out of Buffalo was on my short list of stations that played rock music. Their tagline was Buffalo's Rock Station and as mentioned here, it was my station for Howard Stern in the mornings and pure rock thereafter.

Suddenly, late last year, WBUF dropped the rock. They became "Buffalo's FM Talk Station", building upon their Howard Stern morning show with other syndicated imitators. The new format didn't last very long.

Last week, WBUF became Jack FM. Here in Toronto, we've had a Jack FM for some time now at 92.5 and their slogan is "Playing What We Want". I've always found this to be rather funny, because they will play what they want so long as it's a song on their fairly short play list. Seriously, playing what they want means playing a lot of Sting, Elton John and Madonna. It's pretty much your run of the mill adult contemporary mix station with a crappy marketing spin thrown in for good measure. Jack FM sucks and now this plague has infected Buffalo.

I'm happy to report, however, that Howard Stern has survived the format change. I'm fairly certain WBUF is the only Jack station with Howard Stern in the mornings. They won't be killing the goose that laid the golden egg but they'll be ready with more Billy Joel when that goose flies to Sirius at the end of the year at which time I will bid them adieu forever.

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