i (i) wrote,

What is Good Radio?

Rush Limbaugh is good radio. Howard Stern is good radio. Top 40 country is good radio. I don’t listen to any of them.

NPR is good radio, KXCI is good radio. I listen to both.

If a radio is a toaster, top 40 country is wonder bread, Rush and Howard are Pop Tarts, and NPR and KXCI are whole grain raisin nut bread.

What Do I Want From Radio?

I want substance from my radio station. If I am listening to news, I want it to be in depth, beyond the headlines. If I am listening to music, I want variety not repetition. I want nostalgia, not overplayed cliché. I don’t want time limits on songs or DJs talking over the music. I want to be surprised and challenged. I do not want personalities, shock jocks, games, or comedy. I want music. Talk enough to pay the bills and tell me what I just heard. Then shut up and play music.

What About KXCI?

• Professionalism from the DJs. We had a discussion about this the other night. While I agree that we don’t want to draw attention to mistakes as a rule, part of the attraction of Real People, Real Radio is that the DJs are our neighbors. An occasional human moment is a reminder of that. It reminds us that we are KXCI and KXCI is us.

• Community Radio. Some people might think that community radio should be like public access TV, a place where anyone can come and program however they like no matter who, if anyone, listens. Ideally, there would be a station like that. There simply aren’t enough airwaves available. There has to be a balance between free-for-all and narrow format. XM radio and repeaters in other cities have been mentioned as possible future ventures for KXCI. I’m not sure about XM, but I think repeaters in Phoenix and other cities would be a mistake. KXCI serves the community of Tucson, not the state of Arizona. If you add two million possible listeners and members to the mix, you run the risk of losing the character of the station and thus the loyalty of your Tucson listeners.

• Specialty shows. KXCI is the only place that shows with small but very loyal followings can air, and it should be a haven for them, whether or not they make a lot of money. Because the bills must be paid, however, the most lucrative times should be reserved for the most lucrative programming. Just because we eschew the ultra-commercial formats of other stations doesn’t mean we don’t have to make money. There is room for everything in the music mix, which is why it is such an appealing show. Not everyone wants to listen to two hours of Blues or Reggae, for example. The people who do will tune in regardless of when those shows are on. The rest of us who like those styles mixed up with everything else make up the majority of KXCI listeners, so it makes sense for the music mix to dominate prime time.

• Management vs Programmers. The programmers at KXCI do a fantastic job. In the end, they are why I listen. They are also possibly too personally involved to make some tough decisions. That does not mean I endorse all the changes that have been made, or the way they have been implemented. AAA format is all well and good, but I think the mix would be better if it were relaxed a bit, maybe by eliminating the heavy rotation and mixing it in with the regular rotation, allowing the programmers a few more of their own choices every hour. They are, after all, music lovers who are always searching for new and different sounds. What they find should get on the air. Management needs to keep an eye on the way the station complies with the FCC, the professionalism of the DJs (see above), and should be the judge of the performance of specialty shows. As a listener, I’d like to see a limited run on specialty shows of possibly a year, after which another show would take its place if it doesn’t draw a large enough audience. There is some question as to how listenership should be measured. I don’t know enough to say how to deal with that issue.

In the end, good radio for me is commercial free, plays a wide variety of high quality music from multiple genres, and doesn’t repeat itself. Thank you for the opportunity to take this class.

a couple of notes for my lj friends: Real People, Real Radio is KXCI's motto. "a radio is a toaster" was the first thing the guy teaching the class told us, meaning it is just an appliance that most people don't pay a lot of attention to.

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