For the majority of my life, I’ve slept with the radio on. The radio is always on in almost every car I’ve ever been in. When I don’t want the TV on, I can turn on the radio and hear . . . something. Anything.
When I was a teenager, it was94.7 KMET, The Mighty Met. That was where I first heard Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm,” late one night when I couldn’t sleep. That’s where I listened to Breakfast with the Beatles on Sunday mornings, and Dr. Demento on Sunday nights. It wasn’t the first radio station I loved; it certainly wasn’t the last, but KMET will always be the one I loved the best.
The Wikipedia page has the ending wrong. I remember what happened. I listened to the Met before school, like I did every morning. I left, and went home in the afternoon. While watching the local news, it was announced that KMET had been unceremoniously yanked off the air after the morning show, probably around 10AM. The DJs were all called in and handed severance packages. The last song played on The Mighty Met? “It’s Only Rock & Roll” by the Rolling Stones.
I was heartbroken. For a couple of weeks after they pulled the plug, the station played inoffensive Pop/Rock on a repeating loop, periodically interspersed with the disturbing sound of a heartbeat. There might have been a voiceover saying that something was coming soon. Then the single crappiest radio station ever took over 94.7. The Wave. At its inception, The Wave played nothing but Smooth Jazz and had no DJs (a pretty revolutionary thing to do in 1987). The lack of DJs was deemed a failure after a while, and the play list loosened up to include lots of vapid soft Pop.
There’s been a number of great and not-so-great radio stations that have passed through my life since then. These days, there’s The Sound 100.3, and it’s filling in just a little bit of the hole that KMET left behind. They’re actively patterning themselves after the Met. They even had a “Mighty Met Weekend” recently, inviting back as many of the old DJs they could find to celebrate a time when radio stations had personalities and identities. They play a pretty standard AOR playlist, but they seem to let the DJs pick some deep tracks and oddities as much as possible. They play whole album sides and concert recordings on a regular basis. There’s even a show where they invite ordinary folks to come in and DJ an hour of their own. All of that harkens back to what radio used to be like, and is unheard of on almost any other radio station today. Every station sounds the same anymore, playing the same two dozen classics and hits that the corporate masters have pre-approved. (Right now, 100.3 is playing “Clampdown” by the Clash. I’d like to see anyone else do that these days. No, really. I’d like that a lot.) If I wasn’t listening to The Sound, I’d have it on one of my local “listener supported” stations (NPR is totally awesome). We had SiriusXM in my dad’s car for a while, and that was great, too. Great music, great variety, and great choices. But you have to pay for it, and there’s a little part of my soul that thinks that’s treason.
They’re playing something called “Montego Bay” by a guy named Bobby Bloom now. It’s pretty cool–a little reggae, a little soul, a bass line that sounds like The Talking Heads’ version of “Take Me to the River.” I probably ought to know who this singer is, but there are some gaps in my musical education.
What’s your favorite radio station? Or did you give up on commercial radio? Chime in with your call letters, or any goofy radio stories you’d like to share.