Saturday, October 27, 2012

60's Music: Gone from Chicago's Radio Stations

"The Wandering Adjunct Mobile"
Since the end of August, I've spent lots of time back in the automobile driving from Sandwich to River Forest to Joliet.  I call my 2002 Prizm the "Wandering Adjunct Mobile," because I'm teaching this year at both Dominican University and at Joliet Junior College.  The Prizm only has an AM-FM radio with a CD player--no satellite radio.  So I've had the opportunity to listen to Chicago's radio stations once again like I did when I drove from Sandwich to Palatine for 26 years while teaching at Fremd.

The listening results have been disappointing!

Believe it or not, the songs from the 1960's have all but disappeared from Chicago radio.  Oh, yeah, you'll hear a 60's song once in a while, but most of the so called "oldies" or "classic rock" stations ignore what is the best rock music ever produced--the music from 1964-74.

Cream:  Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton
If I hear Eric Clapton on the radio, it's the acoustic version of "Layla" or worse yet that horrible "Wonderful Tonight."  "Sunshine of Your Love" is gone, as are "White Room" and "Crossroads."  And if an Animals' song is played, it'll be "House of the Rising Sun"; "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," "It's My Life," and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" are missing in action from Chicago radio stations.  "Sky Pilot"?  You gotta be kidding!

What about the group that started it all?  The Beatles!  The corporate radio programmers have ash canned them too, except for the nominal "Breakfast with the Beatles" shows on Sunday morning.  Who listens to WXRT (FM-93.1) on Sunday morning with Terry Hemorrriod anyway? I'm racked out!

What you do hear on Chicago stations are a smattering of 1970's Rolling Stones songs, "Start Me Up" for example, and lots of Elton John music.  All that crappy late 70's music is holding sway.

Look at this gem!  Rod Stewart in his disco togs.
Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart (I'm puking now!), Supertramp, Eagles, Foreigner, Heart, Toto.  God, please kill me.  When I looked at the playlist for the the last 24 hours at WLS (FM-94.7) this morning, there was not one Beatles song played yesterday, not one.

Ask yourself when was the last time you heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," or "Please Please Me" on the radio in Chicago during morning or afternoon drive time?  Maybe, just maybe a station will play "Hey Jude" or "Something" by the Beatles, but I'm so sick of those songs I hit the button when I hear them.  How about "Nowhere Man"?  Heard that lately?  Or "Eight Days a Week"?

You haven't heard these songs because they aren't there.

Bon Jovi in the 1980's
The biggest disappointment is "The Drive," WDRV (FM-97.1), which USED to play 60's and early 70's songs.  When I heard Bob Stroud play Bon Jovi the other day, I swore that "The Drive's" push-button on my radio was going to be changed.  But what can I change it to?  Country music.  Nah, that stuff is worse than listening to WGN's Milt Rosenberg purposely mispronounce President Obama's first name every night on Extension 720.

The irony of the situation is that we aging Baby Boomers who turned 17 in 1965 and 21 in 1969 (Thanks for remembering us Jackson Browne, but you're songs are gone too) have more disposable income that any other radio listening demographic group.  You'd think that the radio programmers would be falling all over themselves putting stations on the air that cater to Baby Boomers' musical tastes.

So what if the stations have to advertise Viagra, nursing homes, no-fall bath tubs, or Depends.  Money is money!

But these assholes are too busy looking at the 35-54 age demographic.  That's why you're hearing Steely Dan and Foreigner so much.  The programmers have completely forgotten us.

The company I used to work for, Nelson Multimedia, has an AM station WSQR (AM-1180) in Sycamore, Illinois.  For a while, the station played classic 60's hits (It's now gone to a "Music of Your Life" format.).  Two years ago while working for the station at the Sandwich Fair, I shook hands with hundreds of listeners from Elgin, Joliet, Rochelle, Rockford, Woodstock, DeKalb, and Mendota who were devoted to the radio station and who loved the music.  "Keep that music coming," a typical listener would say.  "We can't find that music anywhere else!"

The other problem is that the same jerks who ran the Chicago radio stations in the 1970's are still around as are some of the same DJ's.  When I heard Fred Winston last week back on the air at WLS (FM-94.7), I almost drove off the road.  But Winston is not playing the Supremes or the Zombies in his latest radio gig.  He's playing some late 70's or early 80's crap.  Fred, you're a whore!

Pam and Larry Nelson
Some day someone like Larry and Pam Nelson, the owners of Nelson Multimedia, are going to wake up and realize that there is lots of money to be made programming the music of the 1960's and early 70's.

Until that day, I'll make a point to listen to North Central College's radio station, WONC (FM-89.1).  From 10:00-midnight every night, WONC plays the best of the best in 60's music.

Leave it to college kids to recognize the best music!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Sad State of American Journalism

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
 NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell comes to Bears camp last August, and the Chicago Sun-Times does a two page spread on how the Bears players hate him and how they think he's a dictator.  The Chicago Tribune runs one short paragraph under "Bears Bits," which just says Goddell was present at the camp.  Nothing is said in the Tribune about the Bears players' opinions of Goodell.  Of course, the Tribune has become famous as an anti-labor newspaper.

The Tribune also runs a series of stories on the Illinois pension crisis, highlighting abuses of double dipping in the system.  The stories reek of bias against the pension systems.  After the series, the Tribune runs editorials demanding pension reform and calling for retired public employees to give up their cost of living adjustments or their medical insurance.  The Trib's editorial bias against pensions, teachers, and public education moved onto the front page into what should be non-biased news stories.

Channel 7's Mike Adamle
 Channel Five's Mike Adamle leads his nightly sportscast with the fact that the Cubs brought up two rookies for a Sunday game.  The first-place White Sox taking two of three from division leading Texas is relegated to the second slot. in the sports segment  The Cubs are in last place, 25 games under .500 at the time!

WGN Radio always leads its sportscasts off with a Cubs or Blackhawks story because both teams' radio broadcasts are on the station.

NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams
 NBC news anchor Brian Williams asked Texas Governor Rick Perry the following question during last September's Republican Presidential Debates:  "Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates more than any other governor in modern times. Have you struggled to sleep at night?"

Wow!  The journalism that Ray Vanderburg, Reef Waldrep, and some guy named Larry (I can't remember his last name, but he DID give me a "D" in Public Relations.) taught me at Western Illinois University seems to have gone by the wayside.  There is no attempt to judge stories for news value any longer.  The Cubs get the top slot because WGN carries the games, no matter what the White Sox or Bears do.  The Tribune is anti-union so the heck with what the Bears players say about Roger Goodell.

Brian Williams makes no effort to be non-biased in his questioning of Rick Perry.  Williams lets it be known that he is against capital punishment, and damn it, Perry better be against it too.  Did we ever know the politics of Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, or Howard K. Smith when they were on the air?

I don't think I did! 

And now every night when I see Williams sitting behind the same anchor desk where Tom Brokaw used to sit, I wonder if the news that night will be filtered through Williams' liberal bias.
Fox News' Roger Ailes

Fox News is worse.  Under one time Republican campaign manager Roger Ailes, Fox makes a habit of airing the conservative side of each issue and leaving the other side unspoken.  Sean Hannity's interview of George Zimmerman, who is accused of killing Black teenager Travon Martin in Florida told America where Fox News stood.   Hannity kissed Zimmerman's butt for the entire interview.

Voters have a harder time making up their minds who to vote for because the media outlets that should be weighing candidates' positions on key issues are too busy spinning the news to promote the candidates of their choice.

Larry King
 Media experts used to complain about Larry King's show on CNN and claim that King just lobbed softball questions at his guests.  But I always found King to be thorough and probing.  He wasn't looking for a "gotcha moment."  King was looking to have his guests comment on the key issues of the day, and no one ever knew where King stood politically.  When I watch Hannity doing an interview on Fox News or Lawrence O'Donnell interviewing a public figure on MSNBC, I have to sift through the bias in order to get to the real story.  And sometimes the real story never emerges.

Our local radio station, WSPY-FM in Plano, sent its news director, Ryan Morton, to the Republican National Convention last summer.  For the entire week, Morton sent back puff piece interviews of local Kendall County Republicans giving their take on the convention.  When I sent Morton a message on Facebook telling him how I was looking forward to his coverage of the Democratic Convention the next week, he sent me a message back telling me he wasn't going to Charlotte.

I told him that WSPY's news coverage was the best argument I'd seen for the reinstatement of the equal time rule which used to force radio and television stations to air opposing views. I never thought I'd want the equal time rule back (It was a pain in the rear dealing with it), but after listening to Morton, Williams, Hannity, and O'Donnell, I'm not so sure any more.

The station I used to work for in Galesburg, WGIL-AM, runs Glenn Beck in the morning, Rush Limbaugh in the afternoon, and Dennis Miller at night--all conservative commentators.  And now WGIL owner John Pritchard is running for mayor of Galesburg.  I guess we know where he stands politically!

Will journalism in America ever return to its glory days?  Could there be a Woodward and Berstein today? 

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind!