Like a lot of folks my age, I grew up on radio. As a kid in Nashville, I started out with Coyote McCloud on WMAK-AM, and then moved to FM, where I split my time between an AOR station (now a country station) and a station that played a mix of rock and oldies. After moving to the Cincinnati area, I mainly listened to AOR and classic rock stations, and got caught up in the college radio thing later down the line.
These days, I mainly listen to the Mondoville College station — much of the playlist of which comes from my own personal collection — and a couple of stations on satellite radio, which I listen to on my TV. There’s another station I listen to from time to time, but I’ll talk about it later. The Spawn, on the other hand, doesn’t even have a radio in her room. How does she listen to music? Primarily via YouTube.
All this brings us to an article I ran across on CNN the other day. The thrust is largely that the independent radio stations on which I grew up have largely disappeared, swallowed up by larger corporations, which homogenize them in turn. Even the college stations are likely to move to an online-only format, as their institutions sell their “left-of-the-dial” frequencies to those same corporations. It’s not a happy-making article for folks like me, but there’s still a recipe for success out there:
[One broadcaster] remembers his godmother advising him on the importance of community. She hosted a popular midday show on WRAP in Norfolk, Virginia, that played music, conducted interviews and provided information.
“She told me, if you’re ever really serious about putting a radio station together, you want your air personalities to become so integrated into the total sociological fabric of the audience that you’re serving, that when they’re in trouble, they’ll call the disc jockey at the station before they’d call the police,” he recalls.
“You’ve become part of the family. They feel they know you.”
Interestingly enough, there’s an AM station here in Mondoville that does exactly that. Two of my bandmates do regular shifts there, and it’s the station of choice for a number of gathering places for folks in my area. It’s also the broadcaster for Mondoville’s football and basketball games — it’s part of what it means to live here. I wonder how long folks will get to enjoy that.