What with Creed reuniting, BuzzFest coming up in a couple of weeks and, hell, maybe even the swine-flu scare - As in: What's worse than coming down with swine flu? A Houston radio that only tunes in 94.5 FM - Rocks Off sure has been thinking a lot about The Buzz lately. Probably too much. I mean, it's a radio station, which in an age when people stream Pandora on their iPhones - to say nothing of car stereos with iPod plug-in ports - makes it almost as big a media dinosaur as the printed page. The station's advertising sales staff would no doubt agree. Somebody must like it, though. The most recent Arbitron ratings had The Buzz at No. 3, which, in a market of 5 million people, ain't too shabby. So Rocks Off decided to put The Buzz under the microscope to determine two things: if it truly deserves to be the designated whipping boy of everyone who doesn't think the new Seether song totally shreds, and if that familiar old gripe, "Radio is so much better in other cities," really holds any water.
We chose one hour at random Wednesday - 2 to 3 p.m. - and consulted the song log for The Buzz on yes.com. (This can keep you occupied for hours.) Then we repeated the process for the modern-rock stations in eight other cities, including Dallas, Austin and national modern-rock bellweathers KROQ (L.A.) and Q101 (Chicago). Then we consulted the most recent
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Notes: It seems like Rocks Off picked the worst possible hour to sample - with only one currently charting track and loads of hoary alt-rock and mook-metal, Houston's "New Rock Alternative" comes off as pretty awful indeed. However, browsing the rest of the afternoon, we found most of the Billboard Top 20 in there, as well as cooler classic-alt cuts like Beck's "Loser," Cake's "I Will Survive" - no doubt because the band is playing Verizon Wednesday night - and even Faith No More's "We Care a Lot." And happily, the station only played Creed once all afternoon. Although it didn't show up in the sample hour, The Buzz's overall ratio of new cuts to recurrents was comparable to the other stations, about two or three an hour. Obviously, the station is nowhere near as progressive as its counterparts in Austin or L.A., so don't expect to hear the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, White Lies or Spoon on The Buzz, well, ever. We'd be willing to bet they throw "Been Caught Stealing" on every once in a while, though. And anyone who thinks Houston is some sort of alt-radio backwater ought to take another look at the lists from New Orleans, St. Louis and (especially) Nashville. We're certainly no worse than they are. So give The Buzz a break, if only a small one.