athelind: (Default)
Why is it so hard to find a portable radio or, hell, even an entertainment center-style stereo that has a nice row of programmable radio buttons, so you don't have to twiddle up and down the dial every time some hockey game clutters up your classic rock station?

Comments from people who don't listen to the radio because of technology X, Y, or Z will be deleted. Do not open Pandora's Box.
athelind: (Default)
[ profile] quelonzia just defined exactly what makes a good radio station:

"They play what you want to hear, when you didn't know you wanted to hear it."

This is why I often prefer to listen to the radio rather than focus strictly on my own collection of CDs or MP3s, and why I was so dismayed by the demise of KMAX.

She was prompted to this observation after this morning's coffee run, when KUFX responded to our nostalgic conversation about Elric of Melniboné with a "triple play" of Blue Öyster Cult.
athelind: (Default)
Really, it is. I've given this radio station changeover more LJ attention in the last few days than I usually give global warming, civil rights, world hunger, or the latest big comic crossover.

However, two things come to mind:

Yes, KMAX was the only station in the area with that kind of eclectic music mix -- but what really hurts is losing "J.J. Maxwell", the entirely-fictional mascot who "ran the station". He was portrayed as this charming old fuddy-duddy who'd Been Around, there in the background of rock history like Forrest Gump. He'd just pop on to blather during the station breaks, dropping names and talking about old times, but he was amusing and likable and, in his own way, as entertaining as the music -- the moreso because his bits were so brief.

You know the Rush song, "The Spirit of Radio"? It opens with the words, "Begin the day with a friendly voice/A companion unobtrusive..."

That was "Max".

It's silly, but it's like losing a friend.

A friend who'd stolen my CD collection to play on the radio.

My car radio is now tuned back to K-Fox (KUFX 98.5), which plays "Classic Rock". It lacks the variety and the edge of "'70s, '80s, or whatever we feel like", and if I called and requested Peter Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming Home)", they'd probably ask me if I meant David Bowie's "Space Oddity", but it falls into the envied position of "sucks least" on the radio dial.

For years now, KUFX's morning DJ has been Greg Kihn, the one-hit wonder who gave us (and Weird Al) the hit single "Jeopardy". Kihn used to be really entertaining -- he was just big enough that he knows everyone in the rock world, and when he doesn't have guests and phone interviews, he's full of name-dropping anecdotes about the business.

A few years ago, though, he lileksed into The Crotchety Old Crank, waving his guitar and shouting at the neighborhood kids to get offa his damned lawn. He hasn't been too bad the last couple of days, so maybe it was just a phase.

As I was listening to him in the car yesterday, though, I realized something.

..."J.J. Maxwell" was a Greg Kihn parody.

Requiem in pace, Max. We hardly knew ye.

(Update: J.J. Maxwell was voiced by actor John O'Hurley. I now know where to send fan mail.)


Mar. 1st, 2007 08:07 am
athelind: (Default)
There was a day about a year ago where, every time I got in the car, I turned on the radio to hear KMAX playing a song that was currently loaded in my MP3 player. You can't just let a station like that slip away without comment.

This morning, I listened to the last five minutes of the KMAX countdown, and the first few minutes of "The Wolf", the commercial-free country station that's replacing it.

A mildly entertaining intro piece proclaiming the new station the "alpha predator" of the Bay Area radio scene gave way to some promising rockin' banjo -- maybe country music has evolved since my last road trip through flyover country.

It has.

I can only describe what followed as "Redneck Rap", Southern-Fried voices chanting about their pickup trucks and cowboy hats.
athelind: (Default)
Grumble grumble grumble,

For the last year or two, my favorite radio station has been KMAX 95.7, whose format has been "'70s, '80s, or whatever we feel like", with a minimum of talk and a station breaks featuring an amusing mascot character vaguely reminiscent of Jim Backus's various personae. One of their taglines was "we broke into your house and raided your CD collection", and, well, that's pretty accurate.

Currently, 95.7 is playing a synthesized voice counting down to tomorrow morning... and, alas, their site confirms that there's a format change coming.

This would be irksome in any event, but for it to occur on my birthday... that's just rude.

As a goth Keanu Reeves would say... "Woe."

Overcoming the pain of this tragic loss, I'd like to thank everyone who sent birthday greetings my way. Thank you!

March 2010

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