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for February 19, 2002

Lifestyles Of The Unfocused And Incomprehensible
by Sean Carolan, from an ongoing rant between him and Rich Robinson

Why does anyone listen to the radio, really?

Okay, there's no answer to that question. People listen for their own reasons, and the station they choose to listen to reflects that. If they want to be informed, they'll choose a news station (all the news in twenty minutes, maybe) or NPR (one story in twenty minutes, maybe.) If they truly desire to hear two local yahoos regurgitating the topics from last night's late-night talk show jokes (but with far less skill) they've got their pick. If they want to hear a particular kind of music, they'll listen to a station that plays that sort of music.

If they're lucky, they'll actually hear some music. More often than not, lately, they'll hear about something that applies, however tangentially, to their lifestyle.

"Lifestyle" programming is a desperate form of music radio programming that tries to connect with the listener through ways other than music. A disc jockey might highlight a news item that could be of interest, for instance.

On paper, this sounds good. In practice, it's as annoying as arguing about politics with your dentist during a root canal, and about as successful.

The other day on a certain local "alternative" station, the disc jockey come out of a song, mentioned something about a controversy involving a local lingerie store, and went back into the music. It might as well have been an update on the state of their latest hangnail, for all the good it did for their listeners. (In fact, at least the hangnail would have had an iota of personal involvement.)

I can understand this sort of thing on a "mainstream" radio station; people don't actually listen to those for the music. (They listen to those for "Music", which you should imagine as printed on a white label with a blue horizontal stripe.) On a station where you've identified yourself as caring about the music, however, it seems a tad idiotic to suddenly be about something other than the music.

It's a trend, though, so we're gonna have to deal with it. Me, I'm looking forward to a time where, when a DJ says "Now let's get back to the music", we won't ever really have left it.

©2002 Sean Carolan

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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