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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

FM in DC

Many American cities claim to be the “home of rock and roll,” some with more plausibility than others. But that distinction is not, and will never be, held by our nation’s capital, Washington DC. DC is known for many things – politics, crime (sorry if I’m being redundant), history, culture, interns, etc., but leadership in pop music, that’s definitely “outside the beltway.” Waaaayyyy outside. Of course DC could be a sleeper, I mean strange things happen, right? Who would have ever thought that drowsy, drippy Seattle would be a progenitor of the hardcore cutting edge neurotic culture and self-mutilation of the 90’s? But I digress...

Detroit is Bruck’s home city, and while it’s no LA or New York, Detroit definitely holds its own for home-grown acts that made the big time. Granted, geographical attribution means less and less these days as pop music radio and the entire pop media industry become ever more nationalized, franchised, politicized, genericized, beaten into submission, chewed up, spat out, sucked dry, stripped of any actual creativity, stuffed with every perversion and sickness that the media moguls could conjure in their twisted minds, to where turning on a music video channel is pretty much the same as getting doused by Satan’s enema bucket, okay, sorry, I’m digressing again. Anyway, Detroit definitely pulls its weight in the pop music category: Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Eminem, Motown, Madonna (barf, spew). Okay, sorry about Madonna. I, Bruck would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the entire state of Michigan to apologize for Madonna. At least Paris Hilton isn’t from Detroit!

Detroit’s FM dial usually has at least one actual rock station, and at least one “classic rock” station, and they’re usually not too terribly bad. I don’t want to dwell on Detroit radio too much, other than to point it out for comparison purposes. Their rock station, WRIF, 101.1, has been pretty good over the years, but has gotten kind of dark and creepy (goth influence?) for the last couple. Detroit’s classic rock station, WCSX, 94.7, is pretty standard, a little too much Baba O’Reilly and China Grove, but other than that, you have a pretty good chance of finding something listenable. Numerous rock stations that have come and gone over the years, most recently departing a somewhat strange format rock station whose callsign escapes me, but was on 106.7 FM – their format claimed to be everything you loved in the 80’s, 90’s, and 70’s, but was actually everything that gave you a headache in the 80’s, 90’s, and 70’s. White Snake, Poison, Van Halen, etc. Every now and again they slipped up and played something good, so I kept them on a preset. Oh yes, there’s also an “alternative” rock station from Windsor (Canadian city across the river from Detroit) on 88.7. The kids like it.

So… what have we got in DC? The usual you’d expect on the FM dial – all the popular genres, plus about six public stations. Less country than one would expect for the home of Robert E. Lee. They do have 3 or 4 Christian music stations, which I find encouraging, except that they all play the same music and it’s cheeeeeezy, so I can’t listen to it too much. Rock stations: 94.7 is their classic rock station, and 101.1 is their rock station, just like Detroit. 94.7 is pretty much the same as Detroit’s, and ditto for 101.1, except DC’s 101.1 is about 30% more vulgar and 45% less clever. But the really funny DC station is “Big 100.3.” They call themselves a classic rock station but I think they should qualify all such statements with the disclaimer: “…that your grandmother would also enjoy.” I do give them credit for breaking the mold somewhat, and playing softer rock, nothing wrong with that, but let’s call it what it is: mellow old songs that you used to hear on your older sister’s turntable – Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Meatloaf, Van Morrison, Hall & Oates, and not a whole lot of AC/DC, Foghat, or Aerosmith. What really kills me is their claim of airing “the greatest rock and roll of all time” followed by something that you just heard at the dentist’s office.

Actually, I think I spend more time on 100.3 than the other FM stations – they do play some very listenable and singalongable tunes. They can get a little repetitive, though, like I heard “Peaceful Easy Feeling” three evenings in a row once on my way home from work.

There are quite a number of things I miss about living in the Detroit area, but I was surprised to find that broadcast FM radio would be one of them! “Thanks for keeping it on the new Big 100.3 where we play the greatest rock and roll of all time… … …It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday…”


  • At 11:48 AM, Blogger Iler said…

    Would you consider Aerosmith "Classic Rock" even if they toured the other day at PineKnob, err, DTE???

  • At 8:47 PM, Blogger Bruck said…

    Oh yes, definitely. Anything I listened to as a kid is classic now.


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