I’ve talked a few times about the college radio station, which uses a robot DJ when the students aren’t doing shifts. What that means is that most of the time, the station plays selections from the personal collections of the bass player for the Berries (who is big on the Clash and Uncle Tupelo), his buddy in the comm department (a Deadhead and jazzbo), and your genial host. So it’s pretty eclectic.
But I was reading a post on the death of rock radio by Daniel J. Flynn at The American Spectator, and I realized that the real secret — what makes the station cool even when I might not like a particular run of songs on the playlist — is that the few of us who put songs on there are fanatical about music. Flynn identifies the mainstream problem:
King Radio is now computer algorithms and opinion research. It’s hard enough for the listener to connect to an automaton pretending to be a DJ. The listener certainly can’t connect to a voiceless computer program determining tracks. The playlist is to radio what “press 7 for…” is to customer service.
But there’s no algorithm for the passion that fuels Mondoville’s tiny little station. And that’s what makes it great.