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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The Champ

The ChampI stumbled across The Champ this morning. The Champ is a radio bit I used to listen to every morning before jetting off to high school. It was part of Brother Jake Edward's Q Morning Zoo on Q107 for years.

It's back. Q107 plays The Champ at approximately 7:45 each morning, and judging from the voice, Brother Jake Edwards is back at the helm.

If you've never heard The Champ, it's basically a hot-headed former boxer who misinterprets things said to him by other people causing him to fly off the handle. Perhaps someone was asking his wife to pass the tea bag, and The Champ would hear it as a request to pass the tea, bag. One time he snapped when he was told his wife was a thespian following her performance in a play. You get the idea.

You can listen to bits from The Champ online here, here and here.

Of course, part of the fun of The Champ was the way they would get around saying things on the radio you simply didn't hear back then. Double innuendo was their loop hole. Today, you hear just about everything on morning radio, so it's lost it's allure somewhat. Still, it's surreal hearing The Champ again. Throughout the past decade I would occasionally slip into my Champ imitation and "lose it". It's not quite as much fun as it was 12 years ago, but it sure conjures up a lot of good memories.

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Radio Listening

Radio ListeningI listened to the radio from 06:20 EST to 08:00 EST this morning. I'm about to switch to MP3s (Pearl Jam's Merkinball, No Code and Live on Two Legs respectively), but before I do so I thought I'd share the details of what radio I actually listened to.

  • CFNY Edge 102 - I heard some Audioslave, White Stripes, Nickelback and the 6:30 news, sports, traffic and weather package. Blundell started yakking and I turned off the radio for a short while to do other more important stuff.
  • CBC Radio One - I caught the last third of the 7:00 news update.
  • Fan590 - I caught the 7:20 sports update and listened to Glenn Healy discuss our streaking Leafs until 7:40.
  • Mojo Radio - In the mood for more Leaf talk, I skipped over to 640 on the AM dial for some of the Leafs Breakfast with Michael Landsberg. Landsberg weaved a nonsensical tale about Quinn's coaching methods and why he deserves zero praise for the Leafs winning streak.
  • WBUF - Howard Stern was discussing Paris Hilton and he played a clip from a bit Hilton did with Jimmy Fallon on Saturday Night Live this weekend. It was pretty damn funny.
  • Y108 - Hamilton's Best Rock was playing Rush, and I had to stop for a listen. It was New World Man.
  • CFNY Edge 102 - Back to my favourite station for a final tune or two. Unfortunately, I got advertisements.
  • Fan590 - Don Cherry's Grapeline with Brian Williams. He was going off on Sydney Crosby again for this lacrosse style goal the other day. He's got the message, lets move on. Sometimes 16 year olds forget they aren't allowed to score an extremely creative goal when their team has a sizable lead.

That was pretty much it. It's all about timing. Sometimes I spend more time with music and other times I spend more time with Howard Stern, depending on his topic of the moment. With the Leafs winning eight in a row, it seems I spent more time with sports radio this morning. And that's my answer to the question nobody asked.

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Bills 17, Jets 6

Go Bills Go!It's been a very long time since I've had to witness one of my teams on the losing end of a game. The Leafs have won eight in a row, the Raptors won their fourth in a row earlier today and the Bills won for the second week in a row. It was the Travis Henry show at Ralph Wilson Stadium as he ran for a career-high 169 yards and a touchdown.

Following the Raptors victory I took my Freeplay Ranger outside where I was barbecuing some Italian sausages. I listened to Van Miller call the end of the Bills game on NEWSTALK CKTB out of St. Catherines. I have fond memories of listening to Miller call Bills games and I'm saddened by the fact he's retiring at the end of the season after 37 years. He's one of the best in the business and I'm going to miss him.

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Dean's Substitute

Edge 102 Morning ShowI realize I wrote about this yesterday morning, but I want to comment further on the CFNY Edge 102 morning show I heard this week. With George Stroumboulopoulos as host, it's the best show on the dial. The song selection has always been stellar, but the quick comments on each band or song from Stroumboulopoulos enhances the entire experience. It's not my intent to bash regular host Dean Blundell so much as it is to praise the efforts of Stroumboulopoulos who manages to entertain while educating. Perhaps I'm developing a man-crush on Stroumboulopoulos? Nah, I think it can be nicely explained by the following Simpsons reference.

In season two, there was a Simpsons episode entitled "Lisa's Substitute". The episode guide from The Simpsons Archive sums it up nicely: "Lisa's regular teacher falls sick, and gets replaced with a substitute teacher who changes the face of learning for Lisa." It was the presence of Mr. Bergstrom, a substitute teacher, that made Lisa fall in love with learning again. His passion inspired her, but like all substitute teachers, his position was temporary and the regular teacher returned. Lisa reacted to this news by rushing out of the classroom in tears. A great quote from Mr. Bergstrom as he's departing: "That's the problem with being middle-class. Anybody who really cares will abandon you for those who need it more." Great episode.

George Stroumboulopoulos is my Mr. Bergstrom. I'm being stifled by the regular cast, but when they go on vacation and Stroumboulopoulos substitutes, I fall in love with the CFNY Edge 102 morning show again. Just this morning following Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit Stroumboulopoulos remarked "If you don't know what song that was you don't need to". When I turn on my shower radio on Monday and hear the absence of George Stroumboulopoulos's voice, I imagine I too will rush out of the shower in tears. I now know exactly how Lisa felt.

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George Stroumboulopoulos

Edge 102 Morning ShowAs much as I enjoy the tunes I hear on CFNY Edge 102, I'm not a fan of their morning show. When Dean Blundell and his crew start one of their inane contests or other gimmicky radio bits, I tune out. In the mornings, I'm only there for the music.

It's not that I only enjoy music on the radio, I remain a Howard Stern fan and I'll listen to an interesting piece on CBC Radio One or the Fan590 regularly. It's just that I don't find the Dean Blundell show the least bit funny or interesting.

This past week they've been on vacation and replaced by George Stroumboulopoulos. I've been a Stroumboulopoulos fan going back to his previous carnation as a deejay on CFNY Edge 102 before he went national on MuchMusic. He's educated in all the important fields (music, sports, television, movies) with a quick wit that tells it like it is. It's refreshing to enjoy such sharp insight with a perfect blend of humour in the mornings surrounded by decent songs. In a perfect world, CFNY Edge 102 would secure the services of Stroumboulopoulos full-time for their very important morning slot. They'd secure a larger portion of my drive time in the process, that's for certain.

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Quick Tunage

2 minute songsWhen the deejay on your local alternative music station has a couple of minutes before the traffic/weather/news update, there are usually a handful of songs he or she can go to to bridge the gap. Three songs in particular are often thrown on the air at 28 or 58 minutes past to get you to the bottom or top of the hour. As a result, these three songs still get a substantial amount of airtime despite the fact they are fairly old.

I'm referring to Green Day's Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), Sloan's The Good in Everyone and Blur's Song2. Today alone I heard Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) on two different radio stations and The Good in Everyone on one. All three times it was just before an information break. Being only a couple of minutes long has ensured these songs will receive heavy rotation for years and years to come. Pure brilliance.

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Holiday Music

Holiday MusicEZ Rock 97.3, a horrible local radio station that promises buckets of syrop all day long, is promoting itself as Toronto's original holiday music station. They're playing nothing but Christmas carols from now through December. They're including the word "original" in their billing due to the fact other stations are following suit.

Can there possibly be a demand for 24/7 carols day after day for the next month? Do these stations intend to repeat the same 40 minutes of music over and over again? I mean, how many decent holiday songs are there? I can come up with about 15 that you could stomach more than once a year and only about five I really like.

According to CHFI, another local crap station that's promising "All Christmas music from now until Christmas", the top 10 Christmas songs are: Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney, A Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee, Do They Know It's Christmas Time - Band Aid, Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms, Last Christmas - Wham, The Christmas Song - Nat "King" Cole, Do You Hear What I Hear - Whitney Houston and White Christmas - Bing Crosby. I'm sick of them already.

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Toronto Area Radio

Toronto RadioBack in July, I wrote an entry about my preferred Toronto area radio stations. My list of six at the time included Edge102, HTZ 97.7, WBUF 92.9, Q107, 680News and The Fan 590. There are three more I'd like to add.

Y108 - I don't know how I missed it, but at some point last year Hamilton's Best Rock began broadcasting from 107.9 on the FM dial. I discovered this new station only a month or two ago and I've quickly become a fan. Long time CFNY deejay and current host of the great radio program "The Ongoing History of New Music" Alan Cross is host of Y108's afternoons. It's great to hear him back on the air in the GTA. The music is a combination of modern rock tunes you'd hear on Edge102 and some butt rock you'd hear on HTZ 97.7. A typical three-pack might include Audioslave, The White Stripes and Guns N' Roses. It's pretty good stuff if you can pull it in. Their reception is fairly weak.

CBC RadioOne - I used to make fun of people who preferred this station to others considering them boring and old. I guess I now fall into that category as I've been enjoying this station quite a bit lately. It's a mixed bag of insightful interviews, current events and the odd tune or comedy bit thrown in for good measure. It's good radio.

Mojo Radio - Mojo has the broadcast rights for Maple Leaf games and therefore has my ear periodically. I used to stay away from their Leaf commentary because their bias was so prevalent, but the addition of Michael Landsberg in the mornings has balanced things out. Landsberg isn't afraid to bash Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment when they deserve it. He tells it straight up and that's how a true fan wants it. Also worth noting is the presence of Mike Stafford in the afternoons. Stafford has an encyclopedic knowledge of popular culture and The Simpsons in particular. You can't help but enjoy listening to someone who is that full of useless information. I'm envious of his talent.

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