Many moons ago when I moved here I used to listen to kool 94.5, which was the valley’s premier oldies station(and a damn good one!) To me, what constitutes “oldies” is the music from the period of the 50’s and 60’s, but slowly over the last few years I started noticing the so called “oldies station” playing newer and newer stuff right up into the new wave jams of the 80’s. Now I understand their rationale of course…since the 70’s and 80s are now a long time ago, it is now considered old music. It is much like that scene in Back to the Future II(featuring a young pre-pubescent Elijah Wood!) where the Nintendo game Wild Gunman has become an antique in the year 2015. “You mean you have to use your hands?! That’s like a baby’s toy!” Also many of the people in the age demographic nostalgic for songs from the 50’s and 60’s are aging and have been dying off. There is just less of an ad market for that crowd. Supply and demand etc etc.
Basically kool 94.5 at this point plays mostly 70’s rock and some 80’s.
So I started exploring the dial a bit and for the last 2 years have been listening to AM 1440 Arizona Gold, which was a terrific little AM oldies station until a couple months ago when out of nowhere the format changed to sports talk radio in the evening and cooking shows in the afternoon(they still have some oldies dispersed unpredictably throughout the day.) Virtually the same thing happened with AM 1480, which was the only other station I liked. It played lounge music form Dean Martin, Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt etc.
until it was up and replaced without warning when “liberal talk radio” returned to the station. I actually began listening to sports talk radio show, and learned quite a bit about a lot of stuff I’m not interested in, and I even sat through some of liberal talk radio to see if I was missing any variables in my equations which I inevitably am….but I enjoy oldies music and always have. When I was 16 and got my first Ford stationwagon, I only listened to the oldies station(which I attribute to both the influence of my reading of “Stephen King’s Christine” my freshman year of High School, and also the effect of listening to many 60’s cassette tapes with my mom on the way to my many Catholic grade school basketball games.)
You might be reading this and thinking “Why not just get an MP3 player or Ipod, dock it in your car and listen to whatever goddamn music you want?”
Fair enough, but one of the great things about the radio was the unpredictability of what song was going to be played and the romanticism of a song coming on at just the right moment, setting off the endorphins in your brain. There was also that by patiently suffering through a few songs you weren’t fond of, that you might actually discover a new song. These days people have little patience, and will change the channel in two seconds something doesn’t grab their attention instantly. It reminds me of that book The Closing of the American Mind for it is only by forcing yourself to sort through some things you may not like, that you can discover new things that you will. Most people these days seem to lack that sort of discipline. In fact, self discipline and tedious lonely work, are simply no longer valued in today’s society. If one has doesn’t have to ever encounter anything but what confirms they are looking for, why should they bother having to be be bothered by unpleasantness, which brings us to another book, “Brave New World”
I guess I wasn’t trying to make that much of a statement here other than just to say that in a city as large as Phoenix, where there are like 18 stations playing Mexican Mariachi music, a bunch of right wing talk demagogue stations(and even a liberal station… two liberal stations if you count NPR, a plethora of sports stations, a boatload of ghetto hip hop and r and b stations, a couple of 70’s 80’s working class rock stations, and the generic mainstream modern pop stations that play that song “somebody told me that you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend…etc” and other computer generated market researched music….
can’t we have one station in a city this big that plays Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” or the Dovell’s “The kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol when they do the Bristol stomp?”
I guess I will start listening to some other stations and see what they might have to offer. Maybe I will actually learn to enjoy listening to golf on the radio, or soccer moms talking about recipes for crowned rack of lamb.