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!
“Then howcum yer seein’ CBD stuff all ovah ever’place, huh, OC? So, Legion a Boom?”
Steel Curtain. No.
“B. J. Penn, then?!?”
Muhammad Ali. Willya get a clue, dudes? SportsCenter doesn’t work over the radio! We’re talking music here!
“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.
But there’s something else that the station did previously: play music that reminded Baby Boomers of who they thought they were, back in the day. “For What It’s Worth“. “Long Time Gone“. “Ohio“.
Now, we’re going to the chapel of love. Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do. Lava rock? More like pillow talk.
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.
“Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp
Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong
Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop
Who put the dip in the dip da dip da dip ….”
Why dilly? Why not minty? Or sweety? He did claim that he was going to marry the girl, didn’t he? So? OK, maybe it was the dum. Neither minty nor sweety were prepared to tolerate an association with dum. How come dilly was? Did it draw the short straw or something?
I have a friend who plays music at nursing home. He finds that he has had to change the era of the music, from the 40’s and 50’s to the 60’s and 70’s.
“So, Nicolaus, dost thou get to play Mozart or Haydn more?”
“Gadzooks, no, Gregor! The patrons who grew up with those masters have all gone to God. Those who are still waiting on Him call for Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, even (zounds!) Wagner!”
“Forsooth. Next thing thou knowst, they’ll be demanding that we lose the powdered wigs when we play.”
“Forsooth indeed. But be thou comforted, they’ll be back betimes.”
“I be not assured that t’is a comfort. How knowst thou this?”
“Indeed I know not. But my dreams are troubled by visions of this creature named ‘Elton’. Wigs he bore while he played – but what unworldly phantasies spawned their creation, I dare not inquire.”
“May such dreams cease, and give thee peace. And may their like not be visited upon me!“