Surfing the Airwaves

Radio-revised country music: Thank you, thank you, thank you for "Radio Daze". You said it all, about all of those stations. I only would have beat the Country Legends horse a bit more than you did. It irks me to no end that they've turned one-hit and even no-hit wonders into the seemingly dominant artists of that era, rivaled only by the banal and vapid barbershop quartet bands. In fact, both Alabama and the Statler Brothers have broken up because nobody wants to ever hear them again.

Meanwhile, Country Legends turned the brightest stars, the kings and queens of real country, into seeming one-hit wonders (Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells, Buck Owens, Wynn Stewart, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, et al.) and banished still others into nonexistence (Carl Smith, Carl and Pearl Butler, Stonewall Jackson, Warren Smith, Rose Maddox, Joe Carson, Bill Phillips, Wanda Jackson, et al.). I could go on with both those lists till the cows come home.

It should also be noted that bluegrass, a lot of Cajun and even a little blues now and then were part of country "back when," but you'd never know it by listening to 97.1. This is all merely annoying for you and me. But it's a rewriting of country's history for younger listeners.

I had to wonder how anybody in business like Cox could squander such a gold mine, until I learned that Country Legends is a sister station to one of the mainstream corporate players.

Yeah, "back when" the good times were really over for good. Merle oughta sue.

Paul Moratto
League City

Addict's enabler: You know, what's wrong with Houston radio is a good indication of what's wrong with the country. Or at least the red states. Thanks for the article.

It was a little hard to get into at first, but it fostered a mini-addiction that kept me going. It must have been a small taste of what you were going through there in the hotel room.

Matt Bronstad
Medford, Massachusetts

A class act: I picked up a copy of the Houston Press on the way to my American fiction class, thinking that at the very least the eternally scintillating masseuse ads would keep me "alert" until class started. Ten seconds into your article, I realized I would ignore the bland lecture, and spent the class time consuming both the entertaining article and Racket sidebar with feverish glee.

I've been submitted to the flea-market bawdiness that is the Houston radio scene since I was a kid. I have graphic, violent dreams of the Tookie Bird and Mister Leonard, and am probably guilty of several horrid fashion blunders in junior high involving Q-Zoo shoelaces. To counter, there were those glorious days of 96.5 when for a few fleeting moments it was the pinnacle of late-'80s/early-'90s alternative.

The Buzz, when it first fired up as the Rocket, showed some promise. However, the later program director Nazis, who rule with an Excel spreadsheet and fist firmly shoved up Billboard's ass, wouldn't know quality sound from a Pat Metheny megamix.

You mention requesting a format that might recall the parts of post-punk and the '80s people really enjoy. While this seems like a fantastically hot and wet dream, the jaded, embittered bastard in me thinks that this would simply devolve into a formulaic KTBZ-esque format. What's wrong with simply having a station that plays anything, regardless of its status as single or deep-album cut?

The Buzz's interesting promotion for tsunami relief allowed anyone to pay cash to hear a song. People paid $50 to hear something that might never get played on the radio, plus a lot of local music. Granted, $100 allowed every bland Thursday and fashion-core act playing Fitz Down a chance on the radio -- but hell, at least it supports a local scene.

Thanks for reminding me why the Houston Chronicle still remains the best choice for wrapping up breakables when moving.

Eric McPhail

Faith restored: Thank you so much for your article. After Clear Channel decided it wanted to cater to the Latinos in Houston (nothing against them, mind you, I'm just a classic rocker who doesn't know a word of Spanish outside of ordering Tex-Mex), a very destitute me went and bought an MP3 player and started listening to songs that I downloaded (legal is a lenient word) off the Internet.

My latest efforts to listen to any rock in Houston have driven me only further into my MP3 player. Before your article, all I had on my presets were the Buzz (Nocturnal Emissions tends to play a good song once a month) and 90.1. Now I can safely add KACC/89.7 FM and KTRU/91.7 FM. Seeing as I listen to two hours of music a night on the Buzz hoping for that rare decent song that, guaranteed, will be played only once, I'm sure I won't have a problem with the ten minutes of carp on 91.7.

Thank you so much for giving me faith in Houston's radio again.

AnJuli Reid

Stiffing NPR: John Nova Lomax's "Radio Daze" would have been a great piece of research on Houston radio -- except for one glaring omission.

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