Tuesday, November 09, 2004

FM Radio

In my teenage years in Belgium I discovered Studio Brussel, on 100.9FM in the province of Antwerp. Studio Brussel is an alternative radio station in the most broad sense of the word: new-wave, hard rock, (neo)-punk, techno and world music. Studio Brussel always seemed to be 'out there', introducing you to new artists and bands, to new styles, without becoming a popularity contest. The fact that they originally launched under the umbrella of the national radio station (and thus sponsored by the government I assume) made them a lot more independent. Go check Studio Brussel out as they stream live to the internet; you'll hear what I am talking about.

The music on the FM dial in California is much different. Morning programs are dominated by tag team shock jocks. The innocent ones play pranks on people and crack jokes. The more shocking ones elaborate on the human body in full detail. But overall, it is very much talk-talk-commercial-commercial-talk-talk and little music. While you can find FM radio stations from classic rock to elevator music, they all tend to stay within their genre and demographic. There's a classic music station, a music-for-the-single-desperate-women station , musica romantica and a headbangers-mullet station. All are however very predictable and repeat their playlists over and over. It's almost like you can see the big music corporations push the buttons: play Britney .. Brriiiittney!! or Kenny G. or Ozzy (he ain't dead yet you know). [Ah, the antics [1] [2] of them big music corporations deserve a full post later on.] College radio supposed to be much more balanced and experimental. However, the experimental typically also applies to their equipment and style.

Odd he? how radio can be of such poor content in the country with so many great artists. This brings me back to Studio Brussel: the right mix of music and personalities. It is still the most complete FM radio station I know. And now I will break for a commercial pitstop and steer your FM radio to either Free Speech Radio (KPFA) or National Public Radio (NPR) for a heatlhy dose of independence.

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