Monday, September 26, 2005

You Better Listen to the Radio.

Chicago has experienced yet another radio format change. Chicago's 94.7 "The Zone" used to play hard-rocking alternative bands like Linkin Park and the Foo Fighters. Now it's "True Oldies"- the "Stop in the Name of Love" variety of music that has been all but banished to the AM dial. These events are disorienting on a number of levels for me. First of all, as someone who works in radio, I know a thing or two about unexpected change. So I always worry about the how the employees feel. Did they know this was coming? Was the writing on the wall? Do they like this new music? Maybe it will be better with this oldies format - when their parents call on Sunday afternoons, now they have something to talk about.

As a listener, it's upsets my radio sense of geography. You grow used to where certain music lives on the dial. I don't have a lot of presets in my car radio, so I'm often scanning and searching through the dial. Now a recognizable landmark has been altered. I run the risk of listening to smooth jazz when I really want V103.

On a related note - in 1998, producer Alex Blumberg did a great This American Life segment on a radio station that changed format. It was a new format here in Chicago called Jammin' Oldies. (it came and went in less than a year) As soon as they went on the air, they were acting like they had been there for years. The TAL show was called First Day. It's one of their best. Listen at their website - episode 115, Nov 13th 1998.

Update: Apparently it's not working out so well for the employees at 94.7 (via Justin).