This doesn't come as much of a surprise to many, but let me officially declare radio dead.
Well... it's dead to me.
Well, at least in Toronto.
Let me explain.
I don't listen to commercial radio too much as it is. Most days when I drive to and from work, which is where I listen to the radio the most, I end up listening to the CBC. Why, you ask? Well, let's take a quick run through commercial stations on the dial:
Jack-FM, 92.5: I don't need to listen to "My Best Friend's Girl" by The Cars, both the skinniest and most mediocre band in the history of rock and roll, nine times a day.
Flow, 93.5: I work in Scarborough, so I already hear enough about "bitches" and "bling" as it is.
EZ Rock, 97.1 and CHFI, 98.1: "Soft rock." I need say no more.
Mix, 99.9: Possibly the worst of the lot. Middle of the road, its quasi-official genre is "hot adult contemporary," but their mediocre mix of today's pop flavours-of-the-week and Matchbox 20 barely reaches "tepid."
Edge, 102.1: Once upon a time, there was this amazing radio station called CFNY. It played all kinds of cutting-edge (hence its name) artists, but now it's dominated by legions of mascara-clad, sweet-harmonizing, heartbroken, suburban pop-emo BULLSHIT bands. And before the likes of Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical Romance, it was the All Nickelback-And-Disturbed-And-Staind show; I though the neo-garage movement was going to pull them out of their funk, but alas, I was wrong. I don't even bother trying with the Edge anymore... it's just not worth my time. And Dean Blundell? Bazooka Joe is funnier than you, and he hasn't been funny since the Great Depression.
CHUM, 104.5: See "Mix, 99.9".
Q107, 107.1: When I was about 9, I went to a wedding reception where I heard "Takin' Care Of Business" by BTO for the first time. The novelty wore off by the fourth listen. I realize they're CanCon and all, but... give it a rest. (N.B. Andy Frost's overnight program is actually pretty decent; last night as I went to bed he spun a wicked track by John Mayall. Why don't they play this during the day?)
Add to this my disdain for commercials — all of the above saturate their morning shows with endless EXCEEDINGLY LOUD advertisements (seriously, why is this the case? Who cranks up the volume? It's the same on TV) — and you have me either listening to CDs or the CBC most of the time.
And yes, there are noncommercial stations on the dial, but I find they're a little unpredictable. Jazz 91.1 usually has something to ease my mind (unless it has words; god damn I hate jazz vocalists, with the exception of Ella Fitzgerald), and occasionally CIUT has a decent DJ in the morning, but it's pretty hit-and-miss.
So, there you go. A city of three million, and not a decent radio station on the entire dial that plays music. What gives?
(My musing today was inspired by a few hours listening to KEXP over the Internet. I can't say enough about the eclecticism of their playlist: in the span of a few hours I heard songs by Ass Ponys, the New Pornographers, Beck, Lady Sovereign, extremely early Nirvana, the Velvet Underground, Michael Franti and Spearhead, the Stone Roses, DJ Shadow, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club... and those were just from the bands I know. I'd say eight out of every ten songs are by artists I know nothing about; a ten-minute track by an outfit called Low Frequency in Stereo had me nearly hypnotized. So really... are you saying that in this most cosmopolitan of Canadian cities, this multicultural mosaic, this hotbed of musical talent both famous and not, we couldn't put together one fucking decent radio station?! I swear, if I could earn a decent living from running a station that played awesome music across genres, I'd seriously consider doing that full-time instead of teaching.)
Addendum: KEXP is now playing a song off Sloan's (!!!) most recent album. Now, I've been pretty anti-Sloan since about 1999, but this track, "Can't You Figure It Out", is actually fairly decent. Ooooh, hand-claps!