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An Open Letter to KRXO, the Only Remaining Tolerable Music Station in Oklahoma City
October 6, 2008, 7:57 am
Filed under: Media, music, Oklahoma | Tags: , ,

This is borne out of the last several months of being forced to listen to KRXO every night at the supplemental job that I took a while back and have since quit (not because I got sick of listening to KRXO, which as far as Oklahoma City music stations is a hell of lot more tolerable than the others). But still … nobody’s perfect.

Dear KRXO,

It appears that your classic-rock format really seems to be stuck in a rut. Not all of your audience is made up of people that were stoners in high school that may or may not still be stoners, but they’ll get back to you on that after they’ve gone to get some munchies. With that in mind, I hate to tell you that maybe the repeated servings of Led Zeppelin, Queen, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, and ZZTop are, well, getting boring and its time to mix it up just a little bit more?

I maybe don’t listen to KRXO as much as I should (sorry, National Public Radio comes first as far as my listening habits are concerned) but I noticed when listening to your station for an extended period of time over this past summer, that you’d throw in songs by the likes of U2 or The Police or The Cars. That’s good, I guess, but wait a minute: When you went classic rock years and years ago, didn’t you promote yourselves as “no punk, no funk, no elevator junk?” Hey, weren’t these bands back in the day considered “New Wave?” If memory serves, yes! This then to me begs the question, “What do you consider ‘classic rock’?” Do you measure it in terms of timelessness, popularity, or what? Careful, there, you’ve kinda been playing bands that would have been verboten in your mix about 15 to 20 years ago. What gives?

Look, if David Bowie (let’s face it, Bowie is in a class all by himself because he didn’t fit neatly into one of rock’s myriad sub-genres. He did a little bit of everything and across multiple media considering his film work. Maybe he’s beyond everyones’ scope here) already has a place on KRXO’s approved “classic rock” mix (how many times have I heard “Space Oddity” or some other Bowie evergreen on your station), and if you’ve already tried to squeeze in U2, The Police, and The Cars, then the following artists such as R.E.M., The Clash, The Cure, Talking Heads, and The Ramones should be added that by definition fall under “classic rock” based on the following criteria:

a) It has been 25 or more years since each band published its first legitimate recording. And some reputable rock critic, or more, has declared any or all of these bands among the greatest of the last 25 to 30 years, and they’ve been tagged with big words like “influential” and the like (if I’m not mistaken it was The Ramones touring the UK in 1976 that actually helped inspire the UK punk movement). And in some cases, the music itself, at least to my ears, grows timeless — The Ramones’ short, fast, simple songs could be a product of a few minutes ago or a few decades ago and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

b) In the case of some of these bands (not all), one or more band members is deceased — sad but true, an artist’s contributions grow in value when they are dead and, therefore, are rendered incapable of producing. The Cars’ Ben Orr is dead, so is The Clash’s Joe Strummer. So are 3/4s of the original Ramones. Let’s face it, KRXO, your playlist as it is is full of dead people: Most of Lynyrd Skynyrd; John Bonham; Freddie Mercury; Bon Scott, the original singer from AC/DC; that guy from T. Rex; Jimi Hendrix; 2/4ths of The Beatles on those occasions you actually play The Beatles outside of that 7 a.m. Sunday morning program of yours … I could go on with the necrology but I think you get it.

The upshot of this is: Sorry, I kinda thought being dead was a requirement to be played on your station.

d) As a 40something, this is some of the music of MY youth and I want to hear it again too and it would be nice to hear it when I’m not near my computer so I can stream a channel that would gladly program that and nothing more.

And let’s face it, sometimes you get “attached” to something and have a little trouble letting it go:

During one particular week this past summer, somebody insisted on playing “Fat Bottomed Girls” at some point during the graveyard. Why was this? Couldn’t you play anything else? Every damned night for about a week, usually between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. you broke out with this song and deftly sandwiched it between, oh, say, “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band and yet another playing of “Rock And Roll” from your worn-out copy of Led Zeppelin IV. Why? It’s not a great song, to me it’s one of the also-rans in the Queen catalog. But hey, at least you’re not playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the 9,999,999th time (and that total includes the 50-ish times I’ve heard it on your station again in recent weeks).

Let’s see what else you overplayed during the graveyard this past summer. Oh, yes. REO Speedwagon and Journey were annoying when they were in their prime — both groups just a little bit too clean cut (despite being long-haired) to be scary authority-flauting rock stars, thanks to frontmen that were about as threatening as Beanie Babies, and yet not-clean-cut enough otherwise (Moralistic Scold: “He’s singing about loving, and touching, and squeezing … and he’s not singing about a stuffed animal or bathroom tissue!!! Horrors!!!”). And yes both bands (or I guess what’s left of them) played shows at the Zoo Amp this past summer (I think it was the Zoo Amp, but anyway), and I guess you were getting everybody excited for something that would probably have been a bigger deal sometime between Ronald Reagan’s first and second terms of office. In that case I can understand the repeated playings of chestnuts like “Keep On Lovin’ You” (groan) and “Don’t Stop Believin'” or “Wheel In the Sky,” respectively.

You could maybe do just a teeny bit better. After all, you’re the only tolerable music station left in Oklahoma City — thank you for not playing country music, or meth rock, or teeny-girl pop. And certainly thank you for the OU Sooners games (although I wish you’d also broadcast the Sooner men’s basketball games — believe it or not I can’t get KOKC worth a damn down in Norman after sundown inside the building in which I work).

It isn’t like I’m asking you to become The Spy (although I really really miss that station), but it would be nice if you were less the soundtrack from Dazed and Confused (and don’t get me wrong, that was a great little movie). And I’m not asking you to change your format and start playing “alternative” rock — frankly, programming alternative rock has been a failure — twice — in Oklahoma City (and both times it was done by Clear Channel-owned stations, so its entirely possible that it was the wrong company doing it! C’mon, Renda people, you could probably do it better, why not give it a shot?)

But I am saying maybe its time you sit down and re-examine what constitutes “classic rock.” Not all of us want to hear the crap on The Buzz, we’re too liberal for country music and don’t want to be put to sleep by everything else.

Thank you.

— ster.

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