Radio Irrelevant? Who Cares

If you don’t like the music you’re hearing, you have only yourself to blame.

If you're interested in current pop music, there's only one radio station: 94.1 KMPS. Sure, there's MOViN' 92.5, KISS, and KUBE 93, but they all play the same dozen or so songs—by Rihanna, Adele, fun., and LMFAO (or whoever it is this month). They differ only in that some play marginally more hip-hop than others. For a coherent, broad-based pop-music scene. there's only KMPS.

Yes, I know KMPS is a "country" station, but the affiliation is purely ideological—some token fiddles and steel guitars are thrown on top of generic pop arrangements to mark them as Caucasian, i.e., not "urban," and in all ways the opposite of hip-hop. There's no connection between today's smirking bodybuilders in cowboy hats and the nervous, skinny guys like Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers who invented country. It may be a golden age for "country" (witness the Gorge-filling Watershed Music Festival in August, and the high ratings of country radio), but it's got nothing to do with country.

But this isn't an original observation, and the larger question is: Who gives a shit? When KMPS is as good as it gets for commercial radio, why bother? Is radio one of those things we're supposed to worry about, like record stores and the future of publishing? Fuck that. Life's too short. And humans will never stop making music or telling stories in one form or another. These things are not delicate little hothouse flowers.

That's why I have no compunction about retiring to a realm of pure musical delight: Spotify. Not to turn into a commercial for this streaming-music service, but if there's anything more perfect, I can't even imagine it, much less name it. You can listen to virtually anything you want, wherever you want, free from all physical clutter. This month I'm gorging on Webb Pierce, Buck Owens, the Louvin Brothers, and other giants of country you'll never hear on the radio. (OK, you might possibly hear them during the three hours a week KEXP allows country music—if you're inclined to organize your life around radio schedules and can sit through all the self-promotional yakking.)

Speculating about the music industry's future ranks with recycling committee meetings for thrill value. But from where I sit (in traffic, blasting honky-tonk), it seems the battle has been fought and won. By listeners. Those who want nonstop pop from the same four artists have your pick of any number of stations in town. The rest of us have Spotify. There's no need to hang the DJ anymore. He's us.

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