[Hype Hype Hooray] Radio Killed the Blogosphere Star?

Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.

Last week at work I mindlessly hummed Sufjan Stevens’ “Too Much” from his latest megahits album The Age of Adz. My coworker, Rebecca, immediately scoffed. Me: “What you don’t like the new Sufjan?” Her: “I do, I’ve just heard it WAY too much on the radio.” Me: “[Mind boggled].”

“I’ve just heard it WAY to much on the radio?” Really? What radio station is this, I thought, because I listen to our local NPR affiliate on the regular and all I hear is New Wave Celtic Experimental music and the occasional interview with a poet who writes pieces on childhood baseball games. As it turns out, she was talking about Sirius’ XMU channel, which is known for it’s parade of wonderful indie-centric music and blog-hosted radio shows (Rebecca scores GvB‘s show two thumbs up while Hipster Runoff‘s show gets one thumb up for music and another down for Carles’ personality).

But this brings up another more disturbing question. Could satellite radio be falling into the same old habits of analog radio? While FM stations were known for overplaying songs (anybody care to listen to “Stacy’s Mom” or “The Middle” ever again?) satellite radio is supposed to be the 21st century haven from that hell. But as Rebecca illustrates, this isn’t necessarily the case.

While FM radio stations are largely driven by the corporate hype machine and overwhelming greed, satellite stations are driven by the blog hype machine and the necessity to fill 24 hours of airtime every day with music. The combination of the two can be a problem. It’s pretty well known by now that music blogs thrive off the idea of the single. We love to write up a good [MP3] post and 7″ singles haven’t been this popular since the 60s. Nobody wants to hear “Rain Smell” by Baths we all want to hear “Aminals.” So we get what we ask for: singles on repeat.

That’s not to say satellite radio doesn’t play any non-singles. They certainly play a MUCH more varied set than any FM station. But they’re treading thin ice here. Although a lot of XMU shows are directly linked with blogs, they need to transcend them. A blog radio show can’t simply be the music you and others have been blogging about (full disclosure: Knox Road has done just this on our former radio show), it should be much more than that.

To the hosts of these shows, think about this: You get a chance to be the DJ of your very own radio show. You can play whatever you want! Anything goes. This should be your childhood dreams realized! My 13-year-old self who called Philadelphia’s WMMR over 100 times one day to request The Hives, only to be told “We’re not playing them! They’re not mainstream rock! Stop calling!” knows the feeling.

If we want to hear “Too Much,” we can find it. Play me the entirety of Run Rabbit Run. Play me something I’ve never heard before. But don’t turn into another shitty FM station I force myself to turn to when NPR is playing a Celtic marathon.

Of course, maybe Rebecca just listens to too much Sirius XMU. It’s very likely.

1 comment to [Hype Hype Hooray] Radio Killed the Blogosphere Star?

  • nereagp

    The net is the future and so will be for radio. It has to become social. Some college stations are now joining RadioFlag as way for listener-dj interaction and a great platform to create a sense of college radio community and reach larger audiences. The Radio Star Awards are also helping to save the radio stars and local bands in this new radio era: