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!

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