Sunday, November 07, 2010

An Open Letter to WRXP

Dear WRXP 101.9 FM New York,

These are trying times. The great American dynamo has ground to almost a complete halt. Signs of hope are coming but far and few between. The nation's citizens are depressed, angry at everyone (except themselves of course), and when they are not sad about the loss of instant gratification without consequences, they are distracted by their text messages, their social networking pages, and Jersey Shore.

Before people realized the mess they were in, they tried to make the most of it. I recall starting back in that grand old year of 2007, 101.9 on the FM dial in New York City made the most of it when it switched from a smooth Jazz format to an all-encompassing but Indie-flared rock n roll format. Radio's golden days were long behind it, and in a true go-for-broke style, the Emmis Communications corporation had a moment of clarity. Forget the reliability of easy-listening. To hell with teen and tween pop sounds. It was the 21st Century. And before the Internet killed the radio for good and all, here was an easy to find outlet for hearing the Velvet Underground, Elvis Costello, the Ramones, Social Distortion, etc etc. Truly, it was refreshing to hear some of the greats not-well-served by mainstream outlets be given proper prominence alongside Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and all the other legacy acts that dominate the perception of what's popular. In the years to follow, you gave new homes to unappreciated history like the Replacements, X, Split Endz, and any number of punk and Indie acts of old. You opened the window to new blood like the Hold Steady, the National, the Airborne Toxic Event, and Company of Thieves.

Well with 2010 coming to an end, it brings me no pleasure to inform you that in the last year or so, you have shirked your duties as the purveyor of free-thought rock in New York. Perhaps because of the demise of K-Rock at 92.3, or simply because of the lack of viability for Indie-centric rock on a commercial radio station, you have gradually transformed into a run-of-the-mill modern rock station. Where once I heard Westerberg and the boys sing of Alex Chilton, I now hear an endless loop of Linkin Park, Staind, Everclear (Everclear?! For god's sake!), and every single Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers song ever made. It was if someone took the amenable, friendly local record store music nerd whose brain was wired into your playlist and switched 'em out with a backwards-baseball-capped "bruh" from the suburbs. All the life and originality have gone out of you. You're now just another boring, tasteless Walmart-shopping, mindless, American fool.

I implore you to stop. Turn this ship around. Upright the sails. Be different. Take a gamble. You have nothing to lose (except your jobs, but so what?! PRINCIPLE!). Take what good you have left and make it your entire identity, not the sop to those you know truly appreciate what you have to offer. Take Steve Craig's Punk Song of the Day and make it Punk Songs of the Day, ALL Day. Rich Russo's Anything, Anything should be on during the weekday. You know how Devo was going to headline one of your sponsored shows? When you play Devo, don't just play "Whip It"! Bring back playing the Hold Steady and the National like they were number 1 in the country and throw out Linkin Park. I'm begging you. Perhaps I can offer you some newer bands worth your time? There's Atomic Tom, there's the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, there's Tired Pony, the Colourings, Wavves, Fitz & The Tantrums, the Capstan Shafts...There are also some legends you are underserving, and they are coming in new guises you can play: Nick Cave in Grinderman and J. Mascis in Sweet Apple.

To show you I am a reasonable patriot, I will make you a deal: You can play Pearl Jam and the Chili Peppers once a day after 5PM. Heck, I'll even throw in Nirvana for before 5PM, if you give me three daily plays of Talking Heads. I have TV on the Radio and Metric waiting for the green light if you just put down that Puddle of Mudd. Please. Please. Please. Do. Not. Play. Puddle. Of. Mudd. Ever. Again. Ever. Please.

We have a hard road ahead of us. We're only going to make it if we work together. Now is the time for us to do just that. And it can start with you. And the playing of Cee-Lo's "Fuck You" on the air, beep-less, damn-the-FCC, right NOW.

Elwood D. Pennypacker

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At December 3, 2010 at 12:29:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of good formats don't last.
I don't understand the ratings
thing. The majority of listeners
aren't as dumb as made out to be
and a lot of the 'dumb' music isn't
dumb. It has to be mixed with other
good stuff. I'm sure a lot more people
Listen to tyhe stations that don't last.
The ratings measurements are off key.
I would tell the advertisers what we
Want top hear. They might have some


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