Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A change of pace (part one)

A month and a half ago, with my mind still on vacation, I climbed into my car and set off for my first day of work for the year 2006. My radio greeted me with unfamiliar sounds of soft rock in Spanish. Now, I have nothing against Spanish. I even understand a bit of it from four years of sitting in Spanish class in high school, not feeling very challenged by the pace of my classmates, but soft rock does not figure into my listening habits in any language.

Annoyed, I punched the button for my favorite station. Nothing changed. Rats, thought I. I must have messed up the presets somewhere along the line. No problem. It's not very hard to program a radio. I glanced down. The numbers were right. Perhaps my station was playing something truly alternative. They've been known to do the occasional international segment.

A twenty minute commute and four songs later, La Romantica! was still going strong. I checked the numbers again. They even announced the call letters and the numbers on the radio. It was definitely the same frequency I had programmed before the vacation, but the format had changed drastically. Checking the website over the next couple of days confirmed it. My favorite radio station had met its demise, with no warning whatsoever. The network had pulled the plug for good, hoping for better revenue from Spanish soft rock.

I had a couple other presets, but listening to them for a day or two quickly reminded me why the other channel had been number one. One of them, dubbing itself "Mix" and touting its variety, tends to play the same handful songs (chosen, I think, by opinion polls) over and over on any given day. It's not uncommon to hear the same song going to work as coming home. It lets its DJs talk during the morning, rather than playing music. It censors "bad" words, usually to the detriment of the music. It tends to draw its weekend "variety" entirely from the 1980s, a habit which it proclaims as a feature. As a second choice, it was often palatable, but it would not do alone.

My radio can store 18 channel presets. With that, I could certainly do better. I started scanning through the freqencies, to find out what else was out there.

(to be continued...)


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