Radio Free Norfolk!!!

Bangalottaguys? Its Sunday, April 17, 2011, I'm pretty damn pissed off, and this is the Side. Why am I angry? Because my town sucked just a little bit more this week and my pal got the raw end of the stick.


Recently my favorite radio station changed formats, which is very annoying, but worse they got rid of my favorite radio show, The Mike and Bob Show. I've talked about the show on here before, mainly discussing the strange circumstances of their previous sidekick, Manny Fresh. This radio show has been around over ten years. They have a strong and loyal following. So why were they canceled?

I did some digging and came up with this message from the radio station's own. Here's the main reason sited for the changes:

All radio stations in the United States are affected by Arbitron ratings. The Arbitron company changed their radio rating system about a year ago. This new rating system has had a very negative impact on many talk shows and morning shows on music stations nationwide. Unfortunately, under this new system, the ratings for The Mike and Bob Show on 96X were much lower than the ratings during our music hours, and that is the only reason that I felt I had to make a change.

OK, now if low ratings are the case and the show is not acquiring and keeping listeners and sales for advertising on the show was down then there's a definite problem here, but something doesn't add up. The show has bounced back and forth between afternoons and mornings a few times. Most recently its been in the mornings which worked out better for the three dudes involved and their family lives. But here's another bit from the owner's massage:

Prior to the change in the rating measurement system, the Mike and Bob Show was very successful and popular. Under the new ratings system, this was no longer the case.

Hold the phone. The show was doing great, but the company that does ratings changed how they do things and now its not doing great? And this change has impacted radio talk shows nationwide showing lower ratings? So we're to take it that everyone across this great land is just tired of listening to radio talk shows, including in this area which has a talk show that is popular?

This honestly smelled like a conspiracy. It was time to do a little digging, and by little I mean it took about five minutes to uncover the problem. Four of those minutes was waiting for the computer to turn on and the internet to come on. I may have also gotten a snack.

Arbitron, the company that does these ratings has been sued repeatedly for putting out flawed data, with one case even handled by the Florida Attorney General. There was another one handled by the New Jersey Attorney General in which Arbitron had to pay up, big time. So there's a definite problem with the ratings system. I've always wondered how shows and music with such high ratings typically ended up being a lot of crap and for a while I just thought that this awful stuff just had a huge audience that I'm not a part of. Now, I'm starting to think otherwise.

And here's a big old nail in this here coffin from Arbitron's own site:

PPM ratings are based on audience estimates and are the opinion of Arbitron and should not be relied on for precise accuracy or precise representativeness of a demographic or radio market.

Frakking wow.

So this company is making guesses and giving opinions and radio stations listen and make changes accordingly? I want that job! There'd be a lot more Warren Zevon songs on the radio I'll tell ya that!

So, should The Mike and Bob Show be back on the air? Probably, unless they just weren't selling any advertising which I really doubt considering how many remotes they did and appearances they made. And yes, I am biased. I called into that show regularly. I hang with Bob at Kings. He's a friend. All those guys were friends to their listeners. It was the longest running FM talk show in the area, and there's reason for that. It was a good show. It helped make a lot of people's commutes a lot more bearable. When word got around that the show was gone and, that took a bit because there was no announcement or send off, that station lost a lot of listeners. And yes it seems messed up that a show that's been around for over a decade didn't get a nice send off, but if they did and word had gotten around in advance then those listeners that Arbitron says don't exist would have rallied like the last stand in INDEPENDENCE DAY and made things very difficult for the station.

Honestly, I truly think the Dudes have a case against Arbitron. But things don't end there.


Typically this is the part where I include a video of a song I'm either really digging now or on occasion something that plays into what I was previously talking about. Well, there's a lot on my mind concerning music because not only did 96X remove their premier radio talk show, they changed their format. 96X kicked off in the early 90s. In this area there were only two choices in rock and roll stations, and they're both still around now. One plays classic rock, and other plays classic rock and newer stuff with a leaning towards hard rock and heavy metal. Thing is in the early 90s that's when Alternative Rock started coming to forefront and it was different from anything I had heard on the radio around here before.

It was this new, exciting sound that I really dug and it was a lot of unfamiliar territory. When I tuned into 96X then I knew I was likely going to be hearing music i had never heard before. The old, tired rock songs that I had heard all my life and probably knew all the words to weren't here. This had a new different energy. It was the energy of my generation and we were making music.

There was the Seattle music blow up and that had a lot of airplay, but fortunately it went beyond Nirvana and Pearl Jam. They also weren't afraid to pump out some punk rock besides the Ramones and the occasional Clash tune.

It was pretty much a "screw the big hair and make up" we just want to rock mentality. And when things shifted in alternative music and there was something popping up that was weird and different but still pretty damn awesome you knew the X would probably being playing it, and usually about a year before any other station around here was playing it and calling it new music.

No joke, Chris and I were driving to Heroescon in Charlotte, NC and rocking out to "Superman" by Three Doors down when it was brand new. The following year we were driving to the same con and that song was being played on another radio station and being called "new music". Some of the more tired stations are still playing that damn song like its the newest, hottest thing out.

The station changed formats once before to top 40 and every listener cringed to hear boy bands and Brittany frakkin' Spears being played on the X. Predictably it went over like a fart in a submarine and the X returned to its roots. But now there's Arbitron ratings and they're saying that the listening audience is made up of twice as many dudes as ladies, and they're hoping to even that out a bit.

That's not going to work because there's other stations in the area actively courting female listeners to the Point that tuning into the stations markedly increases a person's estrogen levels. The new sound is coming off like a heavy dose of adult contemporary music has been infused but still keeping a little of the old stuff to help us transition. The only old out on there now is the Late Late Rock Show which features indie music and less featured stuff.

And even if the numbers are completely accurate (which at this point is extremely doubtful), so what if more guys listen than ladies? Is that a reason to try to blend in with what a bunch of other stations are doing? Yes, music shifts as different influences and vibes become prevalent. If you had said back in 1992 there'd be a popular punk rock bands featuring some violins and sometimes bagpipes people would have thought you were nuts. And yes, the alternative sound that came from Generation X in the infancy of the station is long gone, however that's now reason not to stand out from the homogeneous rabble on the radio.

Right now the music that spoke to my generation doesn't have home on the airwaves in my town. Most likely, it'll be back because if listeners want to here the type of stuff they're playing now they've already been following different stations that have been playing it for years. The X went from the leader to the led.

And with that I'm going to be listening to a lot more CDs in my car.

Alright, that's going to do it for today. I'm going to go be ticked off about things. See y'all, Wednesday.


Salty Dog said...

I feel your pain, brother. Spread the word of my blog too!

Marty Nozz said...

Solidarity, brother.