February 05, 2004

Mass-Market Independence

Packed the car to the brim with dead trees and headed on home. 11am seems like a good departing time. Miss out on rush hour on both ends, stop in at the La Mirada In-n-Out for lunch, fill up in Burbank and Santa Nella, with a bathroom break or two in between. 500 miles in 8.5 hours, which was smooth, especially considering the car handled like a bloated pig. The traffic was light enough for lots of cruise control action.

The iPod provided the music for most of the way, but the random shuffle went through a bad stretch, so I went fishing through the LA radio stations. Wasn't expecting much, but I picked up Indie 103.1, and it made me stop scanning because they were playing actually cool, smart rock. They played mainstream stuff like U2 (but a deep track, "Bad"), slightly less mainstream stars like XTC ("Senses Working Overtime"), new stuff like Interpol, and their playlist features The Postal Service, which automatically makes them the winner in the second round by technical knockout. More importantly, they played cool music by people I wasn't familiar with. I've become musically parochial because of the iPod, and I need exposure to random bands so I could vulture their CDs from the Amoeba bargain bins when they fade into obscurity.

So I get home and search up their website for some Indie info. Their own Press page gives away the big secret. Turns out the eclectic goodness is owned by Clear Channel and some Hispanic radio conglomerate, of all people. It's an attempt to bring back the Gen-X alternative fans turned off by CC's own cookie-cutter stations by capitalizing on the nostalgic value of the 90's alternative wave, and cleverly adding new stuff that compliments the core hits. Yes, Nirvana is now nouveau-classic rock. They're also trying to take a piece out of #1 KROQ, which is owned by Infinity Broadcasting, by posing an alternative to the alternative station.

Damn, I hate it when I swallow targeted marketing hook, line, and sinker. It's nice to have an "alternative" station that's not overwhelmed by pop-punk garbage and rap-metal shit, though. Too bad their signal doesn't even extend to the O.C. (thanks to Fox everyone can now abbreviate the land or Reagan just like their more glamorous northern neighbor) and the Valley. Well, with Clear Channel, if the shit sticks in the test market you know they'll duplicate the formula in your neighborhood soon enough. Yay.

Posted by mikewang on 10:52 PM