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L.A. Beat

An open letter to all major, commercial rock radio stations

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Dear sirs/madams,

The other day I found myself spending several hours in a car that had no CD player, IPod port or tape deck. While cruising in and around Lethbridge, I spent countless minutes skipping around our local radio dial, tuning in and out of regular daily broadcasting.

In doing so, I was disgusted, yet morbidly amused to hear the same phrases used over the airwaves time and time again – “commercial free rock-ride” and “45-minutes commercial free.”

Phrases like these would be repeated at least once an hour, yet every fifteen minutes (or three songs) I would hear commercials.

Now, I somewhat understand the goings-on at a radio station, having been a faithful volunteer programmer for the last several years at our local campus and community radio station, CKXU 88.3 FM. So I realize the importance of self-promotion, i.e. playing a station ID or call sign as frequently as possible.

I also realize that ad managers at radio stations are paid to solicit money from advertisers; in exchange for the guarantee their business' ads would be played at particular (or random) times slots throughout the week.

I understand as well that certain record labels and companies promote their artists heavily via singles released to radio, and believe that they likely pay big bucks to do so.

So, having clarified what I know, or at least what I think I know, I have some suggestions for you, the owners/operators of these commercial and network radio stations, as to how you might better your stations and our city in the process. Please forgive my tone, as these suggestions may not be pretty.

Listeners are not stupid. They see through your “45-minute commercial-free” sets, as they hear your advertisements played every 20
minutes. You are, in my opinion, blatantly committing false advertising, yet we all accept it like sheep or cattle and don’t heckle you for it. Well sirs/madams, consider yourself heckled. Stop telling lies please.
Thank you.

I would appreciate it (and presume that many others would too) if you would stop announcing the “new” song from Green Day or Billy Talent (just two random examples), when you’ve already played that same “new” track four times a day for the last 90 days. After 75 spins on-air, (enough time for every citizen in North America to memorize each and every lyric) the track should no longer be considered “new”.

I feel compelled to ask you a question: Are the major record labels/companies (i.e. Sony, BMG, Maverick) also your owners, bosses, and essential dictators?

It would seem that way. I have a hard time believing that all of your on-air personalities and/or DJ’s truly, madly, and deeply love playing somewhat generic songs by Theory of a Puddle of a LinkinBack.
I bet that they go home and enjoy listening to collections of varied and excellent music. I like AC/DC as much as the next red-blooded male, but the next time I hear Thunderstruck twice in one day I may have to punch the car stereo. To offer some constructive criticism, here is my
Just once, before that same song gets played in that same time-slot (often supposedly by request) I would suggest that one of these DJ’s speak
his/her mind and say on-air, with enthusiasm, “Due to the limited selection of music that our paid-for-programming provides, here’s the
not-so-new single from INSERT BAND NAME HERE who sound an awful lot like INSERT DIFFERENT BAND NAME HERE, and whose “new” album came out two years ago!”

I realize I may be ranting; but I am pretty confident that you make me angry. Even if the paycheques are fat, I think I would feel kind of
ashamed to work for a company that prohibits free-thinking and assumes that all listeners are dying to hear the same Coldplay song over and over again year after year. The force-feeding of the same sometimes-lame (though usually catchy) tunes over and over again makes your listeners (at least this one to be sure) feel weak, ignored, brainwashed and indoctrinated by these trendy cotton-candy “singles” - while being denied the ability to see that there is a multi-verse of awesome music out there.
Of this multi-verse, through stations like yours, listeners are exposed to about .00001 per cent.

So might I suggest that your station (you know who you are), just once in a while buck the system and spice it up. Instead of playing Aerosmith or Bryan Adams again for the third time in one day, try playing a tune by a local group, by a legendary blues man, by an intelligent and progressive metal band, or something politically charged with a message.

Please, if only for people like me; just try playing anyone with something real and powerful to say. If you do, whoever is listening just might come away feeling enlightened, inspired, uplifted, or a bit wiser – rather than feeling numb, dumb, angry and indoctrinated after being stuffed full of sweet-sounding garbage in between bites of advertisements for things we don’t really need.

Music truly is a powerful thing. It can soothe, heal, instruct and make a difference – but we need to give it the chance to do so. By regurgitating whatever shite that some corporate executive in a suit pays you to, you are doing a disservice to the community, and are essentially selling out your own souls. If you require assistance, I would gladly send you a list of hundreds of bands that deserve your attention.

To quote a fine Rage Against the Machine lyric:

"It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?"


— Sincerely, one huge music lover.
Chris Hibbard

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