"Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive...." Recognize that great opening line? These words are sung by Gary Lee Weinrib; better known as "Geddy Lee," front man of the legendary Canadian trio, Rush.
The song is called "Spirit of Radio" and its very title may suggest or evoke thoughts from the outset. "Radio airwaves crackle with life, bright antenna bristles with the energy." Yet another great line from the song's content but is it already outdated? In today's day and age of digital downloads and point and click mentality; are we even really listening to the radio?
Those over the age of 50 can remember a time when the first thing one did after turning over the car's engine was reach for the radio dial. Even on the coldest of winter mornings, the voice from the dashboard would resonate warmth or a favorite artist would help pass time while the engine came to life.
Radio is different today. Automated playlists have replaced the personal choices of disc jockeys, "They took the fun out of radio," says retired Philadelphia radio personality Michael Tearson as he refers to the automation. Tearson was referring to when a DJ would have to create their own playlists and people would tune in to hear what new material they found or something from the station's archives.
During the early stages of radio the AM band dominated the scene; airing recordings from every genre, performer and all lines were blurred. AM radio slowly split into groups, sports, country and western, gospel and of course the dreaded rock 'n' roll. When the FM airwaves arrived, catering to album rock and expanding the length of singles, playing songs in their entirety and not cutting them down to fit a format, radio changed forever; or did it?
Gone are the majority of AM radio stations with their crackle and pops or disappearances under bridges; one always knew when a thunder storm was approaching well before it got there. FM prevented those fore warnings and has been the dominant broadcasting force for decades; even the advent of satellite radio and its market share haven't dented the perception of FM being the king of all broadcasting.
The new kid on the block these days is internet radio. The ability of wireless and Bluetooth transmissions is changing the face of radio; albeit slowly but changing it none the less. Entire cities such as Dublin in Ireland have set up to be wireless zones; giving the public free access to the internet and its endless potential.
So why is it that people still insist that FM is the reigning champion of radio media? Great question and one that no one seems to be able to answer. "Bands and solo artists will heavily promote that an FM station will play their song once at 3 a.m. and implore their friends, fans and families to listen, all the while I have their material in my regular rotation on a daily basis yet I rarely hear anything in the terms of promotion," says owner/founder Gary Wien of "The Penguin Rocks" an internet radio station which caters heavily to indie and unsigned artists.
Why is this? There are those who believe it's a perception problem and others who feel it's a marketing problem. All radio stations, be they AM, FM or satellite have internet simulcasts on which, if listening at home, is coming through the homes computer or other electronic device. Literally the world at your fingertips and with the world comes multiple options. Wien, like many others, is puzzled as to why more artists don't get the same thrill from hearing their material on internet outlets as they do on FM stations. Dave McMahon of "40 Foot Hole Studio," another internet outlet whose main channel caters strictly to original and indie artists agrees. "I'll never understand why people think the FM stations are the only game in town," he started. "We broadcast from an all day music festival,15 hours straight and the local FM station shows up, sets up a pop up tent, gives out a few T-shirts and bumper stickers, their on air personality introduces two bands and they leave. They were there for about two or three hours and the crowd thought it was the greatest thing to ever happen. I just shake my head; I just don't get it. They weren't doing what we were, we broadcast all day and they just showed up, no broadcast, no interviews, yet they got everyone all excited; I just don't get it."
Perception is everything, or so I am told. Sadly, the perception of internet radio seems to be that it's more of a hobby perpetrated by some guy or lady in a living room setting than a legitimate broadcasting entity. Granted, there are many internet stations who are just that but there are also many which are operated as a legitimate business; with advertising budgets and program directors just like terrestrial radio stations. Stations such as Thepenguinrocks.com, 40footholestudio.com, Gashouseradio.com, Z108.net and Hamiltonradio.net are run on terrestrial models or have borrowed some concepts while introducing new and fresh ideas into the market.
Recently, at a 40 Foot Hole broadcast of a show in Asbury Park, NJ; something funny occurred. "We were the only radio station broadcasting," lamented McMahon. "Yet the performer thanked a local FM radio station and almost forgot to thank us for being there. That FM station wasn't even there and got recognized before 40 foot Hole Studio and we were the ones broadcasting it; go figure."
So bands, solo artists, musicians and entertainers of all varieties should take note; radio is changing. Will terrestrial radio go the way of the rotary phone? I don't think so but as is the case with newspapers, the way we obtain information is vastly different. Newspapers are razor thin as advertisers leave them in droves for the wider reach of their on line versions; the same with radio. Advertising revenues are down in many markets as more people listen to downloaded music, satellite stations and yes, internet outlets. Why bring a radio to work when one can just listen on line at a desk? Why take an iPod or portable player on a walk when you can access the internet from any smart phone?
So as internet radio struggles for legitimacy, FM radio fades and the AM band is all but dead, remember this: If "Video killed the radio star," what will the next trend be?
That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!
THIS WEEKS CALENDAR LISTINGS
146 Lawrenceville-Pennington Rd. Lawrenceville
Sat. 8:30 p.m. (TBA)
Amarones Windsor Inn
29 Church St. Windsor
Thurs. 6:30 p.m. Scott Cager & Debbie
Fri. 8 p.m. Larry "D" & Tobie
Sat. 8 p.m. Tony Malandro
Wed. 7:30 p.m. DJ John Rossi
Big Shots Bar and Grill/Hebe Music Lounge
835 E Rte. 130 South, Burlington
Thurs. 8 p.m. Country Night
Fri. 8 p.m. The Terribles, Stall Speed, Risen Resilient
Sat. 7 p.m. Only On Weekends, Those People, Awaking Mercury, Terrible Friends
Wed. 7 p.m. Open Mic. feat. Smashing Saturn
Blend Bar & Bistro
911 Highway 33, Hamilton
Tues. 8 p.m. Triviajam
The Backstage at Championship Bar
931 Chambers St. Trenton
Fri. 4 p.m. The Paramedic, Nevada Rose, Lit By Darkness, From Death We Came, Bury Your Brother, Paradigms, All For One, Beneath The Break. All ages, $10/$12
Sat. 5 p.m. Infused Miscreation, Stick Shift,When Kingdom Falls, (TBA). All ages, $10
24 Passaic St. Trenton
Sat. 3 p.m. Daryl Yokley Sax Quartet. (No cover-$10 minimum)
Chambers Walk Cafe
2667 Main St. Lawrenceville
Fri./Sat. 6 p.m. Dick Gratton
Chickie's & Pete's
183 US Highway 130 North Bordentown
Tues. 8 p.m. Acoustic Music Night feat. The Dawgs
Dog & Bull Brew House
810 Bristol Pike (Rte. 13) Croydon, PA.
Thurs. 8 p.m. Scott & Dave of the Secret System
Fri. (4 p.m.) Keli Vale Jazz Duo (9 p.m.) Chris & Tommy's Good Time Folk Show
Sat. (11 a.m.) "Saturday Brunch" feat. Mischa Machez (9 p.m.) Visoon
Sun. (11 a.m.) "Sunday Brunch" feat. Keli Vale Jazz Duo (3 p.m.) Kevin Toft
Mon. 8 p.m. Dustin Beck
Tues. 8 p.m. Mark Macmanus
116 S. Main St. New Hope, PA.
Sat. 8 p.m. Noman Nardini w/ Paul Plumeri
Sun. 3 p.m. Little Red Rooster
Mon. 8 p.m. Open Blues Jam
All shows 21+
Havana New Hope
105 S. Main St. New Hope, Pa.
Thurs. 10 p.m. "Beat the Clock" DJ Dance party
Fri. 8 p.m. Steve Forbert / Pat Foran. Doors at 6 p.m., $35 (advance)
Sat. (1 p.m.) "Winterfest Weekend" w/ Midnight Sun Orchestra (8 p.m.) Sammy Flow / Kelly N' Troy. $10
Sun. 6 p.m. JB Kline
Mon. 10 p.m. Karaoke w/ DJ Ron Sherr and Bridget
All shows 21+
3108 S. Broad Street, Hamilton
Fri. 10 p.m. Tangled
Sat. 10 p.m. The Dawgs
All shows 21+
John & Peter's
96 S. Main St. New Hope, Pa.
Fri. 9 p.m. Redwood
Sat. (3 p.m.) Andrew & The Rhythm Hounds (9 p.m.) Blubalz
Sun. (3 p.m.) Miss Pumpkin presents: A drag Show Benefit (9 p.m.) Collin J Rocker
Mon. 9 p.m. Open Mic. Night w/ Tim
Tues. 9 p.m. Tyler James of the Silks w/ Jess Powers
Wed. 9:30 p.m. The Reverend Horton Heat
All shows 21+
2677 Nottingham Way Hamilton
Sat. 10 p.m. The Hamiltones
Wed. 10 p.m. Karaoke
Paint the Roses Tea and Café
37 West Broad Street Hopewell
Sat. 11 a.m. Bryan Hill
Palermo's Of Hamilton
310 Klockner Rd. Hamilton
Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke
All shows 21+
1339 River Rd. Titusville
Fri. 7:30 p.m. Strange Brew
Sat. 7:30 p.m. Shawn Would
Pete's Steak House
523 Whitehorse Ave. Hamilton
Fri. 9:30 p.m. Ernie White & Tom Reock
Sat. 9:30 p.m.(TBA)
50 Riverview Plaza Trenton
Thurs. 10 p.m. "College Night" w/ DJ Paul Desisto
Fri. (4 p.m.) Happy Hour (9 p.m.) Don't Call Me Francis
Sat. 9 p.m. Dance Party. $20
All Shows 21+
Tavern On The Lake
101 Main St. Hightstown
Fri. 9 p.m. Lynchburg Renegade
Sat. 9 p.m. City Hicks
Wed. 8 p.m. Karaoke Night
The Ivy Inn
248 Nassau St. Princeton
Thurs. 10 p.m. Karaoke w/ DJ Ron
Fri. 10 p.m. Seth Tieger Band
Sat. 10 p.m. El Ka Bong
Tues. 8 p.m. Quizzo w/ Bob E Luv
Wed. 10 p.m. "Theme Night" w/ DJ Rockn Ron
The HOB Tavern
146 Second Street
Sat. 9 p.m. Karaoke
The Millhill Basement
300 South Broad St Trenton
Check web page for upcoming shows.
The Record Collector
358 Farnsworth Ave. Bordentown
Check web site for upcoming shows.
The Sticky Wicket
2465 South Broad St. Hamilton
Sat. 9 p.m. Kevin Toft & The All Star Band
The Sun National Bank Center
81 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
Check web site for upcoming events
Tir Na Nog
1324 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
Fri. (5 p.m.) Bill Shannon (9 p.m.) David Falcone
Sat. 9 p.m. Oliver McElhone
Tues. 9 p.m. Open Mic. w/ Jerry Monk
All shows 21+
449 South Broad Street Trenton
Thurs. 8 p.m. Cinema Thursdays Presents: "Our Robocop Remake"
Fri. 7 p.m. First Friday Presents: "Young at heArt" a Watercolor Exhibit by Nonagenarian Stephen M. Marusky
Mon. 10 p.m. Service Industry Night w/ DJ-Jay Kountree
Triumph Brewing Company (New Hope, Pa. Location)
400 Union Square New Hope, Pa.
Fri. 10 p.m. Dirty Dollhouse / Katie Frank & The Pheromones. ($5 cover charge)
Sat. (1 p.m.) Challenge Accepted (10 p.m.) Bernhardt Family Band ($5 cover charge)
Sun. 3 p.m. TJ Kong & The Atomic Bomb
Tues. 9 p.m. Acoustic Bengal Gold
All shows 21+
2572 Pennington Rd. Pennington