Satellite radio got some new competition from a little old outfit called NASA when the government agency went live Monday with its new internet radio station, Third Rock.
The station is described in NASA's press release as "crafted specifically to speak the language of tech-savvy young adults." The New Rock/Indie/Alternative format mixes mostly deep tracks from new rock albums with a scant seasoning of recognizable radio hits.
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Using local radio consulting outfit RFC Media, which is the brainchild of longtime Houston rock radio veterans Pat Fant and Cruze who were around when the Buzz lifted off, to select the play list and program the tracks, NASA developed the station outside its budget through a Space Act Agreement grant.
Our first hour spent with the station revealed a mix of mostly R.E.M./Pearl Jam-template modern rock with the occasional bit of rap that we were mostly unfamiliar with. On the surface it's quite a bit like 103.7 FM in Houston, the adult alternative station, but with less emphasis on known quantities and recent hits. Listeners probably won't be hearing Tom Petty on Third Rock.
According to Monday's press release, the hope is to appeal to the next generation of scientists and engineers that will be needed in the space program going forward by being a go-to place to discover new music.
One local jock associated with the project who asked to remain anonymous noted there currently is a building trend toward companies, government agencies, and non-profits to support and program internet stations that target key demographics, and much of that type of work is being done in Houston, which has been one of the leaders in developing new radio formats the past twenty years.