By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Americans are happy listening to wallpaper. But, background sound usually doesn't sell stuff. I think multi-station owners and the drovers of Wall Street are overlooking one of radio's assignments: delivering select groups of attentive listeners to advertising messages.
Basic economics lead multi-station owners to reduce expenses to grow profits to pay the debt they incurred to buy the station to give investors something for their risk(s). Nothing wrong with that. However, they do it by consolidating operations and making all their stations sound the same. Is radio on the way to becoming fast food? I think something is wrong with that.
As a buyer of advertising time and space, I once recommended, and used, radio as a primary medium. Now, I am witnessing its eroding ability to ring cash registers. Is the creeping homogenization of radio turning this once powerful, intrusive, local advertising medium into a weak media alternative?
A follow-up with those who like national radio and those longing for a return to localization? Wasn't KRBE the first FM station in the nation to play Rock & Roll/Top 40/CHR? Now it happily follows the pack? Tsk-tsk.
I just read your article "Played Out." You hit the nail on the head, but you didn't drive it in far enough. When are these "follow-the-leader" radio stations going to wake up? There are so many more good songs that they could be playing also, besides the same old shit, that is to say, Boston, Fleetwood Mac, Journey and my all-time favorite, Queen's "We Will Rock You."
Those 100 people KRBE supposedly calls for their research must be like a bunch of lemmings, following each other over the cliff. They also probably eat only vanilla ice cream and drive a Chevrolet Celebrity.
If these idiotic program directors would give us a little more variety, they just might be surprised. My only regret with your article? Peter Rainer should have written it.
Voice of Reason
Hobart Rowland's article on Houston radio was the voice of reason I've been waiting to hear for a long time. I'm often completely shocked by the lack of a sense of adventure of Houston radio and of the radio listeners of Houston. I mean, how many times can we all hear the same Jewel or Foo Fighters song without wanting to put an ax through the car dashboard? All of the most popular stations are at fault. If you're as sick as I am, I urge you to turn off the radio, go buy tapes and CDs of talented, adventurous artists (but I wouldn't bother going to a mall music store, where I'm sure most of you 104 drones buy your music) or explore the dial and look for other stations.
KPFT is a good one to check out from time to time. Take some chances, people: Familiarity only makes you stagnate.
And There You Have It
Just read the article "Played Out," by Hobart Rowland. I've been wondering for quite some time why Houston radio sucks so bad; now I know. Have to go to Austin and listen to KGSR from time to time; otherwise I play a lot of CDs of my own down here.
Art Car Glory
I want to thank Shaila Dewan for the great story she did on the art car parade ["Burning Ambition," April 16]. It was better than the parade itself. Art-car-making is a not-so-serious process. As a matter of fact, it's almost devoid of pretension. However, the parade is usually more interesting than the numerous fluff pieces that made up most of last Saturday's event. The art car parade was made up of too high a percentage of silly, brightly painted clown shoes. There were too many family values, too many rules and far too much of a corporate presence for it to be remotely enjoyable. Every time I heard the phrase "The Bank United Art Car Parade, Powered by Pennzoil," it made me sick to my stomach.
There was a nice subtext to Shaila Dewan's story that concerned the lack of attention local artists receive from the local press. Journalists are often too lazy and insecure to make up their minds about something that is not blessed already by New York, Chicago or L.A., and therefore miss out on what is clearly a flavor of art unique to Houston. Houston artists are industrial. Houston artists smell. And Houston artists are usually pissed off -- and with good reason. They're ignored by the mainstream press, but what is worse, they're mostly ignored by the lazy "alternative" press as well.
So this story is fresh. It was mighty. I was happy to see it. So what's next, Houston Press? A cover story on the greatest of all living bands, Rusted Shut? Probably not. But if you've got the cojones to do a story on Don Walsh, you'd gain great respect.