Tuesday, November 30, 2004

FM Radio: The One Place Where The Dog is Mightier Than The Hawk!

Those who know me well know that I like a wide range of music. I appreciate fresh, original talent in all genres, and I respect and admire radio stations that reflect this attitude in their programming. However, in these days of media consolidation, music programming on radio stations has become formulatic in order to "satisfy" the widest possible audience. This has diminished the quality of music at stations across the country, especially out in my neck of the woods!

Out here in the Strait Area of Nova Scotia, the quality of music on the radio ranks anywhere from bland, to downright atrocious. 101.5 FM The Hawk (Port Hawkesbury, NS) plays whatever is hot on the nation's music charts, which is sorta okay, except when you hear these same songs five times in a day! Being subjected repeatedly to the wailings of Marc Anthony, Tal Bachman, and Larry Gowan over the course of a work day is not only numbing, it could very well fall under the provisions against cruel and unusual punishment set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms!

I shouldn't be too cruel to our local radio outfit, they are great in the community, grant exposure to East Coast artists of all stripes on Sunday morning, and they have employed a number of old high school friends over the years. However, I always endeavour to call a spade a spade, and this card is lying on the table in plain view!

Regrettably, 98.9 FM The X (Antigonish, NS) does not fare much better than the Hawk in my book. It does play a little more rock than the Hawk, and the specialty programming that it does air is in tune with the communities unique flavour (Scottish fiddle music at 6pm on weeknights), but the vast majority of the programming is boring, stale adult comtemporary and easy listening music. Yawn.

I find it funny that the best station in the area is one that is run by high school students. 93.9 SAERC FM (Port Hawkesbury, NS) plays music 24/7 with no commercials, interrupted only occassionally during the day by its green-but-learning crack staff of DJ's! The playlist is eclectic, ranging from the familiar (pop, rock, rap, oldies etc) to more edgier stuff (punk, speed metal, instrumental), to even theme songs of old or current TV shows (HNIC, Teenage mutant Ninja Turtles)! Alas, the wattage is so low, that the mountain that stands between Port Hawkesbury and Havre Boucher blots out the signal completely. Crap!

Fortunately, it now seems that 100.9 Big Dog FM (Truro, NS) upped its wattage recently, as its fomerly weak signal now comes in quite well on radios inside my house! I've been treated to its solid blend of rock and pop every time I've travelled through Central Nova Scotia, and now I can enjoy it from the comforts of home. If only these top 40 stations learned from stations like Big Dog and realized that songs don't suck because they've fallen off the charts, or that playing a song more than twice a day eventually causes their listeners to get sick of it, and subsequently, the station itself. Balance and variety are very good things!

Tomorrow, I send health insurance money to New York, and then I book an appointment to get my oil changed/winter tires equipped! The expenses just keep a 'comin!!


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