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Tuesday, April 26, 2005
RIP, Good Times, Great Oldies...on FM, at least
Jack Bog and who knows how many other local blogs touched on this topic back on Thursday but I still feel the need to toss my two cents in the ring. Last week, local oldies hold-out 97.1 KISN switched formats to, as its new cheeky promos proclaim, "a station that plays everything!"
But instead of rolling out songs ranging from German beer hall chants to Brazilian hip hop (my personal definition of "everything"), the new incarnation of 97.1 is sticking with stale pop songs from the '80s and early '90s. As a further insult to its former Baby Boomer target audience, along with the city's Asian American population, it's been redubed "Charlie FM." If you're not familiar with that particular racial slur, toss any given Vietnam film into your Netflix queue.
Charlie is quite simply the embodiment of everything wrong with Portland's FM dial. It's boring, bland and seems laser focused on appealing to people that have never set foot in a music store outside of a shopping mall. Worse yet, its in good company. The city's upper FM dial is clogged with similar stations. KINK, K103, Rosie, K-Lite and The Mix already cater to this demographic.
On the other hand, maybe this is the changing face of commercial stations as audiences continue to drift to satellite radio, MP3 players, etc. In a few short years, maybe middle-aged receptionists in dental offices will be the only ones tuning in to traditional radio. For those of us that don't want to fiddle with an iPod every time we hop in the car or shell out $13 a month for XM, it's depressing and irritating to watch FM radio die a slow death. Despite the endless ads for car loan centers and blithering DJS, there's a certain appeal in listening to a live broadcast that doesn't require a monthly fee.
At the very least, KISN will live on, albeit in its new home on the low watt 910 AM, which my car's worthless antenna can't pick up. While I'm about at least two decades too young to be in the station's demographic, I tuned in for the occasional Beach Boys fix. What can I say, "California Girls" provides a perfect soundtrack for a rainy day commute down Canyon Rd.