Viva La Radio

Growing up at the height of grunge will do things to a person. Things like instill a mistrust for things mainstream and people who bathe too often. As a child of the ’80’s and an adolescent of the ’90’s, I have found that after the death of pop-grunge, a lot of kids went underground to find ‘good’ music; music that those poor, ignorant mainstreamers were not exposed to. The underground and indie scene fed young teens with enough disenfranchisement propaganda to jade even the most innocent of 13 year-olds. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but like all “movements,” it had its flaws. For those kids who had a brain enough to understand the motives behind the movement, indie became a way of life. Some of us dropped out and glided back into the mainstream, but only enough so that the guidance counselors didn’t mislabel us as “gothics.” Most found a nice blend of mainstream loathing and complete ignorance of the scene. Funny how “scene kids” never really seem to know what the scene is all about.

So many of us mainstream drop-outs are the same today, wondering what exactly it was about the nineties that made us want to rebel against the system when we didn’t even know what the system was or why we were rebelling. I have finally come to the realization that the scene has done nothing to promote individuality or alternative thinking. When your biggest fans are under 18, how can you possibly create a movement free from human vice? We are all animals, slaves to human nature, and no matter how the scene tries, thirteen year olds will be sheep no matter what. We indies make snap-shot judgments just as quick as the pop-punkers of today. We just aren’t as quick to admit it. So it all leaves me wondering, just what is so evil about mainstream?

With the advent of mainstream music’s new strategy, I have been finding it increasingly harder to be the disenfranchised jaded youth I so proudly thought I was. Radio has been, so my surprise, decent, for the first time since Pearl Jam made that horrible business move and Courtney pretended she didn’t kill Kurt. That tricky beast that is public radio has made me both squirm and jump for joy. Take K-Rock for example, the well known home of Howard Stern and New York City’s one and only new-rock radio. I hardly ever tune in because I can satisfy myself with enough distaste at the nu-metal, pop-punk; white-rapper-only crap they play that makes me cringe (even though I can usually recite all the lyrics with a shameful face). But I have invested time and interest in the radio as they have begun to cater to a more enlightened audience. Mainly the entire lot of us grunge-rockers of the early nineties. The chalk lines of mainstream have been erased and we are united once again. The trend-grunger’s, grunge-gone-indie’s, and mainstream-drop-out’s are back together.

Here’s the deal: radio stations across the country have been mixing in a lot of decent new rock with a good portion of stuff that hasn’t seen much air-time since the early ’90’s. Why? well we grunge-rockers have reached the age of ad-campaign glory! The drinking age. With the radio stations pulling most of their listeners from an underage audience, they cannot find the backing from alcohol companies who have suddenly grown morals (well, legal morals anyway). So to bring back the twenty-something’s to the airwaves, they are employing a strategy not used for as long as any of us young-adults can remember. With a movement like this, maybe we can break out of the teeny-bopper mentality that has plagued even the most hard-core of anti-establishment movements since the turn of the 20th century. So maybe all mainstream isn’t badonly the mentality and motives of the big business world that surround it.

Case and point: the squirming part mentioned above comes in at my frustration at the Howard Stern situation. Clear Channel and the FCC have concocted yet another evil plot to silence a voice that threatens the world of politics and business. Motivated and supported by the political silencing of the Bush era, Howard Stern is being forced off the radio after many years of pleasing listeners with his one of a kind brutality in the business of shock-jocking. Now, I never listened to Howard Stern all that much, and sometimes I whole-heartedly disagree with what he does and says on the radio. But I like his vibe, what he stands for and I defend his freedom of speech that is being stripped from him on a technicality. Even K-Rock, his home station, is supporting him in his battle and is proudly proclaiming their role in his rise to fame and glory. This whole fiasco has reaffirmed why I dropped out of the business of radio patronage and sought to defeat the beast with a pubescent fire in my heart like so many of us back in “the good ol’ days.”

Radio, admittedly for monetary reasons, has finally heard the call of their would be listeners. Catering to an older audience while appeasing the younger crowd and exposing them to music that was popular only a decade ago is a huge step for mainstream airwaves. The possiblity of defeating the short time in which a good song or band can be popular (with more music to play, songs stand a better chance of not being played out) and reviving Generation X (and the younger ones) to acknowledge that the lack of definition is definition in and of itself. Radio has the power of the people on it side, and unlike the moderate success of pop-punk’s anti-establishment gone mainstream, this new mix and ‘customer relations’ policy might actually revive musical society; a group who have either dropped out or given up, both with little results to show for themselves. I now realize that it’s not the music that we hate, it’s the people behind the marketing scams and ad-campaigns and the shock-jock silencers that we loathe. While their motives may not be pure, I will support K-Rock and the new breed of radio, if only to let them know that in my mind, and the mind of thousands of other twenty-something’s, they are on the road to redemption. VIVA LA RADIO!

7 replies on “Viva La Radio”

holy shit… i think i agreed with every world of that… i couldn’t have enjoyed that more. REALLY well done

hopefully morem people will comment and we’ll get back on the road to normal posting again

haha my only fear is that most of the people wo patron this site are too young and are all about the bad hard rock pop-punk and nu-metal, lol.

i have comments.. not many of them would really fit thou… this article really didn’t appeal to me at all. It was very well written, and I liked alot of the comparisons you made… i just dont fit the mold. The point of view is definitely well defined.. just not something i can say i nessecarilly agree with.

When it comes right down to it, I was/am a scene kid. I was/am anti main stream music for both the politics behind it, and the crap that its spews forth to this very day. I was/am a musician which makes me cringe on an artistic level at some of the things that are given attention today. I was jaded, and I still am. I have I got a chip on my shoulder because i cant get into what everyone else likes? Maybe, story of my life I guess, but I wouldn’t paint every scene kid as someone who just had “a phase”. For some people it is, but I cant say that works for me. It just doesnt’ appeal to me, and I cant say it ever will.

I do have to say though that it was brilliantly written, and showed alot of variety. Some of it kinda seemed a bit obvious at points, but it didn’t take away from the message of the article at all.

Good Job and keep up the good work,


that was the most enjoyable article i have read in a long time. i always liked K-Rock because whenever i drove to NY i would hear at least 2 nirvana songs that werent teen spirit. not that i dont love teen spirit but k-rock has always played more than just that song. now if i could only get them to play justin timberlake…

K I’m quite late on this, but I finally got around to reading this and wow like J said, I couldn’t agree more. Everything you said is so true. When I flew back from NY in January, my aunt picked me up from the airport and I heard NOFX on the radio and some other cool stuff and it turned out that while I was gone, they started a radio station called INDIE103 here and it’s not that it plays only indie rock or anything. It plays anything decent (according to my standards, since that is completely relative). They play their share of indie rock and KROK/KROQ type stuff, but mix in other random stuff like the Polyphonic Spree or Frank Sinatra or The Who. It’s interesting and really cool. I dunno I’ve just basically noticed all that stuff you pointed out as well and yeah I’m done. Once again, I will say and will continue to say that you are such a fabulous writer and I truly enjoy reading your articles.

wow!! thanks guys! i am so glad everyone is giving and getting feedback, I really, love to hear what you all think and I am glad that you enjoyed the article.

chris– I understand where you are coming from, but the thing is that although you may be the exception that proves the rule and you surround yourself with people you feel aren’t hypocritcal about the scene, you cannot deny the fact that the vast majority of grunge rockers in the early nineties were only into it b/c it was “cool” and those that did go punk and indie as a result have grown up and moved on… unless they happen to be genuine musicians and dedicated fans like you.

i think you are underestimating how truely unique you are to the scene. i know it is hard to recognizwe the flaws of something you hold dear but the fact is people only wanna rebel when it is cool and fanshionable and they are young– just like the pop-punk scene that is blowing up right now.

i respect the fact that you may disagree, and I realize i made some generalizations. but whatever, it is all good and I am glad you read and commented. thanks!

I really enjoyed reading your article Christine. Even though I am not in the target age range that your article elaborates on, I have a clue what is going on with Howard Stern (who started in my younger days). Clear channel has the same situation going on down here in Tampa, Florida. Bubba the Love Sponge, who I personally have never listened to because the older kids on my block always wanted to protect my son from his brand of raw speech, has also lost his job as a disc “shock” jockey. (He is currently fighting to get back his position through the courts.)

I don’t think that a parent or anyone should have to quickly change the station because something pornagraphic is being discussed in the radio’s primetime evening hours. (As we would drive going somewhere with all the kids, they would get totally hyper anywhere near Bubba’s show. “Quick, get that off, don’t listen.” They would hold Anthony’s ears. Someone should have been holding mine!)If it were television, those adult discussion type shows are always after 11. Besides, you can set a television to block inappropriate channels or shows or be there to shut it off. While in a car and changing stations, you are victim to whatever they, the “shock jockeys”, decide to put on or say.

I too believe in “free speech”, the right to say what you believe or feel. When you are putting it out there for all the world to hear, there needs to be guidelines for decency. Not everyone wants to hear “everything”!

I appreciate clever word games that Disney and other “family” movies sneak in. The adults get it, it goes over the kids heads. (We hope.)In the older movies, for example “It’s a Wonderful Life”, there are constant adult references made light heartedly that are eye-openers. (I didn’t know that they could do that!) The older films got creative to get around the censors. In my opinion, it’s classier and more fun.

I do admit that a little shock talk is fun and exciting. For example, Conan, Leno and other late night talk show hosts. If it were that way all the time though,then that would get boring. (I love seeing the real animals visit their shows!)

Thanks for giving me an insight on your age groups defintions of what was/is or still. It reminded me of the “Breakfast Club” with more definintions. Once there was a brain, a jock, a freak……(Something like that.) Each decade teen classifications become more complicated and diverse. Though the bottomline stays the same. They want to be heard, understood and accepted.

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