July 13, 2004

Radio Station Famine

There is a reason that so many people are now downloading music and opting for online radio stations, and that reason is Rochester, Minn.

This city in which I live has the odious distinction of having the worst radio stations on all of the entire planet. Not that Rochester is all that keen on admitting this foul little fact.

No, Rochester is more interested in promoting the fact that it's routinely listed in the top five cities deemed Best Places To Live In America by some nothing publication called Money Magazine. Seriously, here in Rochester, the yearly Money Magazine listing is a cause of great celebration, and nobody seems to have any idea why.

Tell you what, Money Magazine, you come on over to Rochester and look me up, and I'll take you on my drive to and from work on West Circle Drive, and I'll make a special point of taking you over the engineering disaster of an overpass that features no less than four freakin' stoplights in less than 300 yards, and I'll be damned if they're at all synched up, and more than likely we'll find ourselves stuck in the middle of that mess of lights for minutes on end and. . . and. . . and. . . ARGH! Best Place To Live In America MY ASS!

Anyway. Where was I?

Oh, yes, radio stations.

Here in Rochester there are two primary radio stations, Laser 101.7 KRCH, and KROC. These are your basic choices here in Rochester. Oh, there are other, less well known stations that play soft rock and stuff you'll hear as background music in a Kate Hudson movie, but basically these are your two choices.

Laser 101.7, KRCH, touts itself as a classic rock station, meaning they believe the evolution of music stopped abruptly sometime in 1978. KRCH is, I think, legally bound to play at least one Led Zeppelin tune every half hour. It is my firm belief that KRCH has a wealth of CDs by the Doors and the Allman Brothers that are on the verge of disintegration due to overplaying.

KRCH routinely plays a listener testamonial from some caller who says, in a deep and suspiciously drunk-sounding voice that "You guys play the best music I've ever heard!" Trust me when I say that can't be right. The man is quite obviously mistaken.

The other Rochester radio station is KROC, which positions itself as the leader in "Today's Best Music," which would be fine, I suppose, if they had a freakin' clue what today's best music actually is. In the minds of those at KROC, anything by Outkast or Sisqo or any other number of bands with different names that sound exactly alike constitute today's best music.

KROC reaches out to its core listener base, which is basically middle school and high school students who call in frequently and sound like they have a collective IQ of 76. Take, for example, KROC's "Rate at Eight," when they play some new song and encourage listeners to rate it on a scale of one to ten. Well, most listeners, I think, hear the numbers "one" and "ten" and assume those are their only choices because, nine times out of ten, the Einsteins who call in will rate the song either a one ("dude, that song sucks") or a ten ("dude, that totally rocks and has a great beat").

Right now, the song that's getting the most air time on KROC is a particularly annoying diddy by Outkast called "Roses." Keep in mind that this song is adored by students ages 12 through 18, and that the recurring chorus for this Shakepearian piece of lyrical genius goes:

I know you'd like to thank your shit don't stank
But lean a little bit closer
See that roses really smell like poo-poo-oo-ooo
Yeah, roses really smell like poo-poo-oo-ooo

Now, KROC really goes the extra mile on this one by silencing out the soft "i" sound of the word "shit" here. So, you get this line like "I know you like to thank your sh_t don't stank" as if the average listener can't fill in that easy blank (and I totally didn't mean to just rhyme with "thank" and "stank" right there).

So, there you have it. If you come to Rochester, you can either listen to Led Zeppelin or Outkast while trying to traverse one of 18 million stop lights. It's depressing, really, especially when I spend many of my weekends up in the Cities, where there's a plethora of radio station choice. But then, come Sunday evening, I drive back to Rochester and I lose reception from the Cities almost at the same moment I hit the city limits.

I repeat, best place to live in America MY ASS!

Posted by Ryan at July 13, 2004 11:15 AM

So……any city that has a lot of crime, traffic, poverty, pollution, and a high unemployment rate would be better than Rochester as long as it had a “plethora of radio station choice”? Not with ya’ on this one Ryan

Posted by: Bruce at July 13, 2004 11:29 AM

Oh, come on, Bruce. You could go to Cannon Falls, which is a nice go-between distance between the Cities and Rochester and have basically the same freakin' crime rate and pollution. As for poverty, Rochester sports an outrageous distinction between the royally rich and the dirt poor. And unemployment? Well, the Mayo Clinic keeps that largely in check, but the other gigantic employer here, IBM (which I work for, so I can't badmouth them too much) lays off people with a regularity that could make atomic clocks obsolete. So, no, Bruce, I don't think Rochester is necessarily one of the best places to live in America. But, even besides that, the purpose of this post was to poke fun at the horrible radio stations available in this idyllic little hamlet. But, if you want to turn this into some sociological analysis, I guess that's your choice.

Posted by: Ryan at July 13, 2004 11:41 AM

I wonder if Money Magazine's love affair with Rochester has anything to do with the mind-space Rochester occupies in a good portion of the world's millionaires and billionaires because of the Mayo Clinic.

The editors of Money keep hearing about these rich people flying in to Rochester to try to keep themselves alive another decade, and they're charmed by it's small-town atmosphere, and the presence of all these other millionaires who give it "legitimacy" as a place to live. I think Mankato or Fargo is probably the exact same town, but the Money folks never go there, so Rochester gets the rating.

Posted by: moving_comfort at July 13, 2004 11:48 AM

side note: and what a nice ass it is... as we all know....

Posted by: leah at July 13, 2004 12:01 PM

Wow, do I ever feel the same. I work at Kingland Systems, which is by the new Target and I have to take 14 to west circle to 41st. I.... fucking.... hate..... stoplights! They definitely did create one hell of a clusterfuck when they made that road.

As for radio stations, my parents love Laser 101.7, but that's because their music tastes are stuck in that era. KROC is easily one of the worst abominations of mankind masquerading as a radio station of merrit.

As for living in the cRoch, well, I don't. I commute 40 miles in and 40 miles out every day from Hayfield. It's a bitch, but I'd rather be in the country. I've thought about moving to Cannon Falls after Kristin is done with college, but for now it's living in Hayfield in my parents' basement. Woot.

Posted by: Rick at July 13, 2004 12:25 PM

You heard it here first folks.

The best place to live in the USA: Ryan Rhode's Ass.

So, what's the property tax like in your ass Ryan? And how's the weather in there? Hot and humid?

Posted by: David Grenier at July 13, 2004 12:30 PM

Hot and humid, yes, but you simply wouldn't believe how cheap the gas prices are.

Posted by: Ryan at July 13, 2004 12:33 PM

I think Rochester is a horrible city too. But if you think the Twin Cities has a good selection of radio stations you must be huffing some of that cheap gas from Ryan Rhodes' Ass!

Let's face it, music radio has been sucking for the last ten years. The deregulation has meant that there are not only fewer stations to choose from, but they are owned by fewer organizations.

I could go off on a Clear Channel rant... Nah, I rather trash Rochester and their horrible taste in fashion and restaurants.

Posted by: Todd at July 13, 2004 12:57 PM

Oh, gawd, Todd, don't even get me started on Rochester restaurants (where Applebees is considered a delicacy). Yes, come to Rochester, where everything is a chain department store or restaurant franchise.

Posted by: Ryan at July 13, 2004 01:10 PM

I think I posted about my hatred towards Rochester on you blog a couple of years ago.

My mom's family live in Oronoco and we would usually stay in Rochester when I was a kid. By the time I entered my teens I began to notice how much people from Rochester claimed that the city was so sophisticated, of course they couldn't say much past the Mayo Clinic.

You could argue that the same thing happens in the Twin Cities. Midwestern pride twisted into delusional provincialism. But still, Rochester ain't got nothing to brag on.

Posted by: Todd at July 13, 2004 01:30 PM

lays off people with a regularity that could make atomic clocks obsolete.

I was watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Sunday, and there's this great scene where Buffy comes into Giles' new magic shop for the grand opening, and Giles is standing there in a purple cloak and tall pointy hat with the stars and planets and stuff on them. And he's smiling expectantly. And Buffy looks at him. And they hold eye contact for a minute and there's just this perfect, subtle, "Uh, no," transmitted from Buffy to Giles through that contact. Giles' smile breaks, and he takes the hat and cloak and puts them away behind the counter.

It's a great moment, because it's not explicit in the way so many things are these days. It's not even strongly implied. It's just a subtle little *nudge* of a "no".

Posted by: Joshua at July 13, 2004 01:53 PM

Joshua, I suggest you come work for IBM to see how subtly they "nudge" people out of jobs. Truly, they're masterful at it. They can do it so stealthily, you're barely even aware that it happens all the time. I was on the receiving end of one of their layoffs, and yet, if you were to ask IBM if I had been laid off, they could say no, my contract had simply expired. IBM hesitates to lay off genuine, actual IBM-direct employees because that might make the papers so, to pre-empt that, they hire butt-loads upon butt-loads of contractors who can be let go without IBM having admit they're being let go.

Posted by: Ryan at July 13, 2004 02:08 PM

But, as I visit your site, and your Red Page site today, Joshua, I suspect you may just be more contrarian than usual. Which is fine, we've all been there.

Posted by: Ryan at July 13, 2004 02:19 PM

Back to radio stations...I'm with Todd, there isn't much to Twin Cities radio either, unless you count Radio K and MPR.

Posted by: Heidi at July 13, 2004 02:24 PM

Ryan-- Actually, I was giving you shit for that terrible turn of phrase.

Which, obviously, supports the "more obnoxious than usual" theory.

Posted by: Joshua at July 13, 2004 03:00 PM

After hating Rochester for 15+ years, I've finally made my peace with it. It's relatively clean and safe, there's very little traffic compared to larger cities (I don't miss I-40 in Raleigh AT ALL), and we have nice parks and bike trails. And even though I mourn the loss of the Galleria movie theatre, which actually showed independent and foreign films on a semi-regular basis, I am eternally grateful for the Chateau with its stadium seating and excellent sound system, even if it feels like Spider-Man 2 is showing on every single screen.

As for the restaurant situation, we actually have a handful of ethnic restaurants in town now, so there is more variety -- Bosnian, Thai, Vietnamese. Not that I've been to any of them, because I'm hooked on Dairy Queen, but you know.

The radio stations do suck, but Todd is right; radio as a whole has been in decline for the past decade. I'm content to get my new music from the internet and iTunes.

Posted by: Jen at July 13, 2004 04:27 PM

i like both led zeppelin (like isn't even the word there) and Outkast, and Roses is a hella funny song. (ooooh, that annoyed you, didn't it?). however, any radio station that touts "today's best music" or "classic rock" automatically means they also play things like Blink 182 and Rush, meaning 98% of the non-Zeppelin songs suck.

don't you have any college radio stations in Rochester? that's all i listen to here, cuz UCB and UCSF have wicked awesome college radio. you can listen to UCB here: http://kalx.berkeley.edu

Posted by: leblanc at July 13, 2004 05:22 PM

i like both led zeppelin (like isn't even the word there) and Outkast

I've long suspected something like this might be going on behind the scenes. Actually, it explains a lot.

Posted by: Joshua at July 13, 2004 05:32 PM

Hey, at least you might get "Hearts of Space" broadcast down there. Even the Twin Cities radio stations suck ass, with the exception of:
1. Radio K
2. MPR
3. AM 1530 (Ed Schultz show)

Posted by: The Oracle at July 13, 2004 09:09 PM

One of the best CDs I've purchased in the last 10 years was "Stuck on A.M.", a compilation of in-studio performances at Radio K. I've got the 2nd and 3rd also, but the 1st is still the best... And I've lost it. Or it was "borrowed".

Can't be found, anywhere, in any store, or online. I actually called the station, and they said they'll be re-releasing it soon, though.

Posted by: moving_comfort at July 14, 2004 09:51 AM

OK, if you're gonna cut down the song, get it right Ryan. It is called Caroline by Outkast and it is about this woman who they hate and they call her a stupid ass bitch and a crazy bitch throughout most of the song. The part you're talking about is that Caroline thinks her shit smells like roses, but her "roses" really smell like po-po. It actually is a pretty funny song. And no, I am a goth, but my 13 year old and 9 year old like the song. What shit did you like when you were 9 or 13? I liked Heart at 9, PUKE, and Zepplin and Floyd at 13. Hmmmm....

Posted by: Michele at July 17, 2004 03:16 PM

At 13? I didn't understand what the fuck Zepplin was even saying. And they annoyed me. Truth be told, I liked Phil Collins, and Weird Al, if you can believe that. I liked some weird shit. Still do. I like Nora Jones now. Is that wrong? Liking someone who doesn't sing about fucking someone? Or singing about some bitchy bitch? Eh.

Posted by: Ryan at July 18, 2004 02:02 AM
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