Stating that I was going to sit down for hour long diary sessions with both the San Diego radio stations was a bold claim indeed. When I realized that I was actually going to have to do the 91X diary, after spending an hour last week with 949, it was sort of like the feeling you get when the phone rings at like 9AM after a night of heaving boozing, and you realize that whoever you were making the bold claims to about going whitewater rafting, or deep sea fishing, or the Padres game, or moving three feet from your bed is actually taking you up on your drunken claims. But I'm not one to back out of the lofty goals I set for myself, and I was going to listen to an hour of 91X, the pain of it all be damned.
I was especially goaded on by some of the comments that were left on the 949 diary, asserting that San Diego actually did have better radio than the rest of the country. Of course, this is preposterous. FM radio blows universally. Radio has, to quote Calvin, "Lowered our expectations to the point where they are already met." As in the medium is so godawful, that things like playing a non-Crazy Gnarls Barkley track, or devoting 2 Sunday evening hours to local music is seen as revolutionary and messianical. So let's hold off on the "San Diego radio is better than New York, LA, Austin, etc" claims until we've researched both of our fair cities options, OK?
This is set up the same as last weeks diary. It is unedited and unrevised. I wrote it today from 6 to 7 PM, one week exactly after the 949 diary. It is opinionated, rambling, at times incoherent, but it is what went through my mind while tuning in for the first time in a long time, to a solid hour of 91x. I don't know anything about 91X, I don't know how it is reportedly "different" than 949. I heard that it bought itself out from Clear Channel, but have remained unimpressed by token displays of coolness such as that. We will see if sitting down with them for an hour can change that opinion. Please enjoy:
6:00 We join 91X already in progress. Alice In Chains "Would" is about halfway through. For any of the graying baby boomers that shook their heads and said "this stuff will never last" about the 90s MTV bands, San Diego radio in the year 2006 would be the perfect rebuttal. This could be another reason why the Canes tribute bands are such a booming business.
6:02 A new Red Hot Chili Peppers song begins. Regarding "Dani California," do people really have that big an attachment to California? The state is enormous. You could get 100 people in a room and all of them would value completely different things about the state of California. A love song about the state seems to be about as deep as a love song about food. Seriously, what the hell.
6:04 Still going on. This song doesn't do much for me, it has a catchy grunting chorus, that I bet will be fairly popular. It sounds a bit like "Whoomp, There it Is" but I guess that song was pretty popular as well.
6:05 A Frusciante guitar solo that sounds "Awesomely bad." That was how Rolling Stone described the guitar solo in Weezerâs "Beverly Hills." I think a better way to describe it would be "Bad." Ironic bad is a fine line to walk, one that is rarely done well. The DJ comes on now to talk about how someone probably has hearing loss. Probably from hearing the kick ass Rage Against the Machine "Guerilla Radio" playing in the background. Amazing, another song from the late 90s/turn of the century. It could be a lot worse, but it is kind of bizarre...At the beginning of this song, there is like 20 seconds of instrumentation before the lyrics start. The DJ did the patented, "talk up until the lyrics begin" thing that radio stations are known to do. This is one of 94.9s ten commandments, that they will never talk over the beginning or ends of songs. To me, this isn't a big deal. It doesn't ruin too much for me. Two minutes into the song, I've already forgotten that it happened. I can't think of too many situations where I would be furious to hear the DJ talking over intros. Maybe if they interrupted each song of the Abbey Road closing suite to prattle on about the x-fest or whatever, but yammering over a Rage song doesn't really seem to diminish the artistic merit of it
6:09 New...91X...Music...(echoes) A new song that I don't recognize plays. The way I would describe this song is "Perfect for MTV." I haven't seen music on MTV in god knows how long, but this sounds about as archetypical an MTV song as possible. IE, it blows, and it definitely won't be getting radio play ten years from now the way the bands above it have. This is the song where on the chorus the guy makes his voice go really high, I can't even make out what heâs saying. I would put odds at about 50/50 that this band is playing at Street Scene, let's google some lyrics...I thought they said "these are the lives you have to lead" but that turns up nothing
6:12 91X World tour, listen every hour to pick up Pearl Jam tickets. Make your reservation with us today. Go straight into a commercial for the world cup.
6:13 The top three reasons this woman is getting a new washing machine from the home depot. They are all good reasons, but I feel lucky just to have a washing machine and am not considering getting a new one. You'd figure that many listeners are in a similar position to me. Next is a Scion commercial. I test drove a Scion the other day. I like the box ones. I used to hate them, but like them now. Boy these thoughts are vacuous and annoying. I am writing my thoughts about commercials now. How bizarre.
6:14 Carpet barn commercial. You know what is weird? The next time you hear a really shitty jingle for a shitty local company, just remember that there are real people that recorded the vocals and music for that jingle. You always just imagine these things coming pre-formed, like the prerecorded tracks on a Casio keyboard, but no, they take a lot of time and effort by real people.
6:15 I heard the same Verizon VCast, Yellowcard, Subways, Depeche Mode commercial on 949. It's good to see that the stations don't have the same petty policy where they ban a commercial that the other station plays as they do with artists such as the Flaming Lips.
6:17 Captain Morgan original spiced rum commercial. I didn't know you could advertise hard booze on the radio. The ad prominently states that it is copyrighted. What the hell is that all about? Who is infringing on this Captain Morgan commercial's copyright?
6:18 Bob Baker Ford ad. They are gonna pay for peoples fuel for the rest of the year. Screw thoses guys. I think that Ford and GM's struggles are hilarious. When we drove the Scion, the dealer said that the Ford guys don't like the Toyota guys. He said that Toyotas are more reliable, cost less, get better mileage, and all the Ford guys have going for them is that they are "Made in America." Screw Ford.
6:19 I think we're coming back. I heard the first "Independent Radio the way it should be claim." i never paid attention to 91X going "independent' from Clear Channel, but think it is pretty hilarious. It's like if all of a sudden Scott Stapp was like, "Hey, I don't suck anymore! You know, for the past decade, I've totally blown, and I admit that. I mean how lame was I! But now things are completely different!"
6:20 I don't recognize this song either. "It takes my pain away." Google informs me that this is Jimmy Eat World, and the song is "Pain." It is terrible.
6:22 The DJ is talking over the beginning of Steady As She Goes. He's talking about the Pearl Jam Contest. I don't really know how to enter it, but would like to try. This is the first repeated song from the 949 diary. It doesn't sound any better on 91X. You'd figure that with all the Independence floating around there, there might be a radical thinker trying to play another song off the Raconteurs album. But maybe, just maybe, they are SO independent, that they are trying to be "Awesomely Bad" and playing the old, old single off this album is just part of that image. That truly would be the ultimate irony: a radical independent station that was so independent and gave so little of a fuck that they played as many commercials and played out songs as your typical Clear Channel station would. I think I'd respect that station from afar, while avoiding listening to it like the bubonic plague.
6:25 Vintage 91X music. Ho-Lee Shit....They are playing "Zombie" by The Cranberries. My jaw seriously just dropped. Holy shit. What the hell are the Cranberries up to these days? Is this being played ironically? It has to be, it just has to be. This could have slayed me had a friend put it on at the right point in time, but right now, I'm just amazed. Think about this. Someone out there, in charge of playing records that thousands of people are going to hear, just put on "Zombie" by The Cranberries, and as far as you and I know, there will be no repercussions as far as him being fired is concerned.
6:28 The fact that they play this song leads you to believe that their playlists aren't entirely corporately derived. I mean, nobody could still have a financial interest in getting this song played. They aren't promoting an upcoming concert. So for the LOVE of GOD, if you're get one song per hour that you get to pick, why not play something fantastic? Reach into the bag for one of your personal favorites, something that people may not have heard but will be eager to learn about. "The King of Carrot Flowers", "How A Resurrection Really Feels", or "A Minha Menina"? Why Zombie? Why!? Why!?
6:30 Zombie straight into Radiohead "Creep." This lineup so far this hour definitely could have played like the '95 Lollapalooza. I get to go see Radiohead on Monday, and hope that they don't play this song. I think it blows. That's another thing: These DJs undoubtedly love Radiohead. Everyone loves Radiohead, they are one of the least accesible bands out there that are inexplicably universally beloved. So playing one of Radiohead's deeper cuts, hell, even something like "Might Be Wrong" isn't going to have anyone changing the station. In fact, it would discourage way more people from switching the station than "Creep" for the 8,000th time would. I can't ever understand why artists who are as popular as Radiohead, who have reached the heights of fame and success despite a limited catalogue of radio played songs, aren't given more of a chance by the radio. The fans are there. The critical acclaim is there. The DJs are obviously fans. But we get Creep, Karma Police, High and Dry...Maybe Fake Plastic Trees...But that's about it...
6:34 Question of the day...when can I get pearl jam tickets. Having sex in the lavatory is not allowed, in fact its damn near impossible. A clever promo. Caller number nine wins Pearl Jam tickets, so i give it a shot, because I'm not made of stone (and it would be awesome to win the tickets while writing this diary.) Unfortunately, it's constantly busy. I've had alright luck with radio contests in my life. I won tix to a GNR show (that ended up getting cancelled) and got tickets to an advance screening of Revenge of the Sith last summer. So those contests do work. But it looks like today just isn't my day.
6:38 A terrible song is playing, distortion and shrieking. Standing on the rooftop ready to fall. Evidently it was Rise Against. They may be at the Street Scene...The guy who wins the Pearl Jam tickts is named David. He says he's on the way to school, but he sounds like he's on his way to the set of the Dukes of Hazzard. He loves 91X, thank you. The DJ has the unenviable task of picking a winner, so he's gonna let David decide how the drawing is done. David is all about equality. "Cut them papers up, throw em in a hat. It's all about equality baby, you know?" He sounds enthusiastic. Good for him.
6:41 The DJ will announce the winner of the San Fran trip before 8 tonight. Until then, we'll do some commercials. This weekend, save up to 75% off at Guitar Center. Deals from the Warped Dimension. That doesn't even make sense. They've invented the fourth dimension, then punned on that title to create something that doubly doesn't exist. The prospect of 6 more minutes of commercials makes me wish I could disappear to the warped dimension though...
6:42 VW ad with German stereotype talking. I don't like German accents, I'll be honest.
6:43 Two buddies discuss the master plan of summer fun. They're not gonna waste a minute of summer. They are excited about the master plan, and headed to Sports chalet to stock up on everything. Imagining the guys recording this dialogue is sobering as well. I wonder if the director gives instructions like "Sound like a bigger tool."
6:44 Hyundai Sonata ad. Screw this. I don't know anything about Hyundais, but I bet their company is doing better than Ford. Screw Ford.
6:45 Wow...the world famous Deja Vu is looking for girls..."Dance your way to financial freedom" is an actual quote from this ad. All dances are only 10 dollars this friday. This is impressive. You never see strip club ads on TV.
6:46 Hilarys 91 second music news. News about how the guy from Faith No More was on the 91X music show. They are playing a Next Big Thing concert #6 in July at Canes for 91 cents. I think that it can safely be said that no Next Big Thing has ever played at Canes. They guarantee nothing but passionate fans of his new band "Peeping Tom" will come out for the show. Wow....Mike thanks the guys for being involved with his band, says it "takes some cojones." The DJ responds "It comes with the independence man." !!!!! A bold claim. I guess Zombie comes with the independence as well.
6:48 Wolfmother and The Shins have been added to Street Scene. That is certainly news. Good for those guys. Wolfmother I think i like. If you wait 30 years to rip off a bands sound verbatim, especially a band like Black Sabbath who most people only know a few songs by, then you're going to make some fans. I wish I had thought to do it first.
6:49 Cake "Let Me Go." Cake seems like one of those bands where soon we'll hear that like the guitarist from Cake used his modest earnings from a lifetime in the band and invested them in the IPO of Google or something and can now buy and sell us all. Hopefully he writes a song about how that feels.
6:52 "Fans of news will be a little perplexed by this new music from Knights of Psydonia" The DJ encourages us to go see this band live, but he times his speech wrong and the song sort of cuts him off. Kind of funny, but it still doesn't irritate me. In fact, I think its kind of funny each time, because 949 acts like it is an issue that music fans are just frothing at the mouth about, as if not being able to hear the first 10 seconds of a song by the Knights of Psydonia uninterrupted are a catastrophic crime of taste.
6:54 I think this song is an instrumental. Nope. There's some vocals. I was going to list instrumentals that I like. I'll do it anyways. "Bron-Yr-Aur", "Kid A", "All Around The World (Reprise)", "Trombone Dixie".
6:56 Song is still going on. It blows.
6:58 A mechanical pre-recorded voice just told me that that I just heard a song by Muse, off their new album. Don't know what that was all about. I think I'll go on record as hating both bands, just to be safe.
6:59 It looks like we'll end with Spacehog "In The meantime." Probably not too many people clamoring to hear this song lately, but whatever. If you're gonna play the hitz from the 90s, its better to play this song than "Zombie".
Thus ends another diary. Not much to say in terms of wrapping it up. There seemed to be a bit more commercials on 91X, but in reality, both stations took 2 commercial breaks during the hour, both lasted around five minutes. I don't really know what the selling points each station has to differentiate themselves from the other one. Both stations played Rage Against The Machine. We heard tons of bands from the 90s that are defunct and/or jokes by now. 91X played a few newer bands that blew, 949 played a few older songs that blew.
91X's "Independent" claims still strike me as awesome. I don't really know how they impact what is played on the station. It's too bad we can't hear a side by side comparison of 91X during its Clear Channel days. The bottom line is that for a station that trumps its independence, the product sounds very similar to what you get a few notches up the dial. I don't even know what more to say. If you're independent, we can infer that you play by your own rules, and don't have a bunch of "Suits" calling the shots. The DJs can play what they want to play....
And yet today I heard Zombie when I could have been listening to the King of Carrot Flowers. Until someone explains how this paradox of the universe happened to me, I'm goign to be walking around in a silent, Chief Broom type daze.