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Music Savaged By The Average Beast

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for February 2, 2004

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by Sean Carolan

Last Thursday, there was a pretty impressive lineup visible at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs headlined, with The Stills and The Killers backing them up, and what's more, Dave Grohl and the Beastie Boys were in attendance.
Rather impressive indeed. It's sad there isn't a single commercial radio station in New York that would be willing, or indeed, able to feature such a bill. WLIR has closed up shop and moved further out on Long Island. WXRK (K-Rock) is too busy waiting for the next good Linkin Park album (which, I suppose, would require the existence of a previous good Linkin Park album.) The call letters "WNEW-FM" are still in use, though God knows why the station's owners bother continuing to apply them to the sorry stream of middle-of-the-road dross that dribbles from the 102.7MHz frequency. And out in the New Jersey suburbs, WHTG-FM has devolved. Nobody, it appears, can figure out how to make money from alternative rock in New York - ironic, considering it is (as always) a city that suffers no dearth of exciting, interesting bands.
So how do I know about this show? And how did I hear it? Simple - I listen to BBC Radio 1. Who were doing a live remote broadcast. From New York.
How would one have actually gotten in to these shows? By being a New Yorker that listens to the BBC and was one of the people to e-mail them in response to an on-air giveaway. In short, the BBC figured they had enough listeners in New York to populate the Bowery Ballroom, at 2pm on a Thursday. (The show aired in prime time in the UK, hence the odd hour here. Strangely enough, it was likely the perfect time for many US listeners, too, since a lot of folks don't necessarily have the bandwidth to listen unless they're at work.)
So, an open note to any NYC radio programmer that happens to stumble onto this page: It's embarrassing enough when a station comes in from outside your market and steals your thunder. It's got to be even worse when that station is out-of-market by exactly one ocean.
The listeners are there, in numbers great enough to support a true alternative. That's not "alternative" as in Good Charlotte. That's "alternative" as in alternative, a.k.a non-mainstream rather than re-labeled mainstream. The only reason you, Mr. Programmer, can't see them is because you haven't been looking.
If the BBC can see them...why can't you?
(Oh, and're next. BBC Radio 1 will be in your backyard March 5 & 6.)

©2004 Sean Carolan

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


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