On a Monday morning not too long ago, Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba was driving to work, pretty much on the usual Monday morning autopilot, when he tuned to his usual drive-time “classic rock” radio station and …
… it’s different …
The “always rippin'” guy is gone. So is the morning-drive guy’n’doll pair. And all of their usual, cheesy, brain-teasy bits and gimmicks. Practically all of the chatter of any kind that used to go down. Not even the surf report! How the hell can you have a radio station in Hawaiʻi nei without a surf report?!?
All replaced by a single, endlessly-repeated tag line.
The Greatest Hits of All Time!
“Fer real, OC? All Harold an’ Kumar, alla tha time?!”
Dudes. Jeez. ‘Scuse us a moment… Yo, dudes. Harold and Kumar can’t hold a bong to Cheech and Chong. Not that kind of hits!
Steel Curtain. No.
“B. J. Penn, then?!?”
“Classic rock?!? Man, OC, tha’s givin’ music a bad rap!”
That’s giving music no rap! Which just might mean you can stand to listen to it!
“Ya reckon, OC? Ya listen ta them greatest hits fer awhile, an’ then come tell us what ya think, yeah? See ya …”
After a couple of weeks of listening (and yes, there was a sale), YFNA could nail down other changes besides the announcers and the tag line.
Previously, the station had featured some of the most musically-accomplished acts of the Classic Rock era. Led Zeppelin. Rush. The Allman Brothers. Yes. Jeff Beck. Bowie. Supertramp. Stevie Ray Vaughn. Pink Floyd.
In their place? The Dixie Cups. Nancy Sinatra. The Monkees. Jebus, the freaking Monkees!
Thanks a pile, folks, for the sharp (and flat) reminders of how come twenty-first century wannabe pop stars aren’t allowed within 500 kilometers of a recording studio without Auto-Tune.
Yeah, Man? What do you want?
“To know what part of ka-ching you don’t get. This format is killing it in Honolulu!”
Yeah, yeah. And you have to compete with radio stations that are playing this song 40 times a day, that has “in the middle” as its sole lyric, repeated 17,000 times in three minutes. Go away.
“OK. But remind me again how you’re managing to pay the rent each month …?”
Damn. Where is that Marquess of Queensbury when he’s needed?
Many, many moons ago, not quite when homemakers and sailors were knitting winter coats out of elephant fur, but perhaps when they still remembered when they could, YFNA was wandering around Cape Cod, Massachusetts for somereasonorother, and happened upon a radio station playing the “Music of Your Life” format.
The format unabashedly targeted the “over 50” market, playing the hits from the 1940s and ’50s: Glenn Miller, the Dorsey Brothers, Eddie Fisher, (who else) Frank Sinatra. “Music that was popular … when you were.” Popular enough to get shot at, World War II and Korea fans. But never a mention of either. Not “In the Mood” for that …
Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba, who was not yet 50 at that time, and was looking forward to the event only because the alternative had no appeal whatsoever, wondered how it was that a format that went out of its way to remind its audience how old it was could possibly succeed.
“Retirees have money. And they like to remember what it was like to, ah, screw around. Ka-ching!“
He also wondered what the formats that targeted the 50-plus audience would be like when he got there.
Behold, he is now there. And we have The Greatest Hits of All Time.
At a time in the political history of the nation which, had it happened when the target audience was in their twenties, would have induced that audience to a level of fighting in the streets that makes the riots of the 1960s look tame, now has its members singing do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do.