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for March 18, 2003

To Alternate or Not
by Stiffy Biceptz

I recently heard that some music programming changes had occurred at G106.3 FM, towards a more "alternative" format. Careful listening through the static of my too distant car radio did seem to suggest a shift away from adult alternative (rapless top 40 and well assimilated hits) and back to a more classic alternative vibe, that is playing the alternative hits from 15 years ago. Now I have no problem listening to old New Order, Depeche Mode, the Clash, Erasure, etc. But just because it was Alternative back then, doesn't make it Alternative now. Famous for many of my phrases, Stiffy determines another one is appropriate here. Back in the day I was often quoted as saying "What was dangerous yesterday is child's play today." Or, "what was poison a decade ago is now merely tart salad dressing." Eventually most music gets assimilated into the mainstream or the music conquers the mainstream audience.
The idea here is that playing another generation's cool, radical, dangerous Alternative music does not an Alternative station make. Remember, there was a time when Satisfaction was the most subversive piece of music ever recorded. REM and the Red Hot Chili Peppers both used to be alternative staples, too advanced for the mainstream. Now the most fascistic, adolescent male oriented, low IQ stations play them regularly. I meant KROCK.
What made the good ol' FM 106.3 Alternative was that it played what was then currently alternative. Hardly anything they played had any other radio outlet, save for a few college stations. By definition, if it was played on the top 40 stations or the horrid "rock" stations, it was not alternative. The same rule applies now.
The other Thursday I was at the Conduit for their Sin Thursday Industrial/Goth night. (Check me out in the pictures from 3/6/03.) For the hour and a half I was there the DJ's did not play a single song or band that I recognized. Most of what I heard was good, some was great. The experience in general was very enjoyable for two reasons. First, I got to dance my ass off. Second, It was so refreshing to hear new music, something alternative to what we are constantly spoon fed. No rap, no top 40, no boy bands, no guitars. Just the way WHTG used to be back in the 80's and early nineties.
For a station to be alternative today, it has to play what isn't being played and what was never played. If they played what was spun at the Conduit, they'd be alternative. Having enjoyed FM 106.3 and the Melody in New Brunswick, I learned that there is always a huge volume of music cranked out every month that NEVER gets any publicity. No radio, no MTV. If G106.3 or any other station wants to recreate the alternative style that made FM 106.3 so respected, just play everything that's not on any other station. And get some jocks who are music lovers, not communication grads. That also made a huge difference.
Afterthought: KROCK as stated before, is the worst pop station on the air. The music is sexist, moronic, and violent and the play list makes top 40 look lavish. What is most offensive is that they play "Smells Like Teen Spirit" the way the old rock stations used to play "Stairway to Heaven". KROCK is the kind of station, and the DJ's are the kind of empty-headed drones, that Curt Cobain loathed. He likely vomits in his grave every time they play one of his songs. The tune "In Bloom" was written just for KROCK types, and they "don't know what it means"...

©2003 Stiffy Biceptz

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


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