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raleigh radio redux
a revisit with rebuttal
by adam kuehn

So radio in Raleigh sucks (see wcrp, by roger striffler).

Of course, my knee-jerk reaction was, “Who could possibly care?” I’ve got a lot going on in my life, and it doesn’t really matter to me that the one cool radio station in the life of Roger Striffler got 86’ed by the big, bad media moguls. But Roger’s a good guy, so I kept reading just the same. Hey, if I’m gonna vote for him in the survey, I better at least pretend to like his writing, right? On reaching the end of his piece, however, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I had just wasted my time.

But the column generated a ton of response. This piece really seemed to strike a chord with most people. How could that be? Why would anyone care whether or not the radio choices in Syracuse stacked up to those in Raleigh? But clearly someone did care. What was I missing? It bothered me for a better part of the day... which was itself a pretty surprising thing, leading me to believe that the original piece had meant more to me than I had first thought. What extra nugget was in there waiting to shake loose?

I don’t read Intrepid much – in fact, Roger introduced me to it, and I’ve only known him for a few months. So, maybe I’m a little slow to catch on. But suddenly I realized that the real issue here is about belonging to something small in a world of large. I know, I know – it seems like a non-sequitur. But hang in there with me.

It’s pretty obvious that nobody really cares about the radio. Most of us turn it on in our cars, but that about sums up the impact it has on our lives. Radio is something we do when we’re really doing something else. It is a pleasant background to the necessary things in life, but not much more. And notice that it is commercial radio that people don’t like, not the concept of radio. Radio could be done well, but not for money (shudder). Money just means that the popular stuff will get played, and my interests will get ignored. Not only are my interests ignored, but the stuff I like is clearly superior to that popular schlock one usually hears. (Actually, this sounds like politics, but I’ll let that thread die a quick death.)

People do care, though, that someone else shares their opinion about the radio. Read the commentary again: Everyone is one hundred percent united that commercial radio sucks. Everything else about the discussion is just ripples in that pond.

So this is the immensely portable truth that apparently cuts across the grain of that article and which each of its readers seems to be contemplating for themselves: I am not a small fish in the big pond. I am not just like everyone else. My needs cannot be met within the narrow confines of the popular. Everyone is aware – sometimes painfully, sometimes just knowingly - of this immutable truth. There is no average person; and if there were, it surely would not be me.

And isn’t it funny how the internet does that? It is the largest of the large. But even while it demands more from you every day, even as it stretches your productivity and binds you every moment to a world you might try hard to cut loose from now and then, it can create the small, something-in-common groups that can keep us all sane. We can more easily find those who share our point of view, even about the trivial things in life. We can take pleasure in how this one small collective is different from the great mass of popular culture and, largely only because of that difference, is somehow superior to it. We can celebrate how we are differently all the same.

Now if we’ll only do that in person and about the important things in life...

Radio in Raleigh is more important than you thought, isn’t it?


The only things notable about Adam personally have to do with the other people in his life, and they didn't volunteer to be posted on the web.

more about adam kuehn


roger striffler
3.7.01 @ 6:59p

Adam, it has been my sincere and humble pleasure to have wasted your time. And so much of it! Here I was, sitting across the room thinking you were working, when all along you were just thinking about some stupid radio article. Who knew?

Funny how little it takes to get a reaction out of people, isn't it? and don't we really learn some interesting things by observing peoples reactions?

Oh, and by the way. You're fired.

adam kraemer
3.8.01 @ 9:53a

Oh, jeez. I thought you were talking to me for a minute. I didn't even know we sat across the room from each other.

roger striffler
3.8.01 @ 10:44a

Funny, I thought at first that you wrote it. But then I wondered what would make you think I was a good guy.

jack bradley
3.21.01 @ 7:08a

Adam K...I get your point, and actually think you're on to something. I even like the fact that you decided to use the controversy of (sort of) attacking Roger's article to draw attention to what you wanted to say. It drew me into the discussion, made me take a side, and then blindsided me with your point. Well done.

By the way...I used to live in Raleigh. Radio there really does suck, and Roger really is a good guy.

adam kuehn
3.21.01 @ 9:42a

Actually, Raleigh radio sucks only if you aren't into classical music. In that genre, it's world-class (at least on the radio). And Roger didn't really fire me - he just moved me into a different room. Out of sight, out of mind....

jack bradley
3.21.01 @ 7:48p

Oh, and I'm going to be my cyclothymic nitpicking anal-retentive self and mention that Joe typed "wrcp" instead of "wcrp" in the link at the beginning of the column. Sorry.(Anyone need a proofreader?)

joe procopio
3.22.01 @ 11:20a

No I didn't.

jack bradley
3.22.01 @ 6:49p

Did too, you cheater.

Okay...now I'm an angry cyclothymic nitpicker.

jack bradley
3.22.01 @ 6:51p

Side Note to Jael: The above contains taggable phrases.

jael mchenry
3.23.01 @ 9:10a

Side note back to jack: The column, the discussion, or the concept of cyclothymic nitpicking? I suspect the latter. And consider it noted. And Adam, I love the phrase "immensely portable truth."

tracey kelley
3.23.01 @ 11:27a

Interesting article, Adam - so I hate to be contrary. Some of us actually responded to Roger's article not to be a part of collective, but to address the actual topic.

Unfortunately, there used to be a time when radio was original - when it was a partner to the music and true information, not a pimp for the corporations.

From Marconi through the advent of the FM band, radio as a communication medium helped unite a nation during war,introduce the magic of Louis Armstrong, swing, R&R and the British Invasion, and in a romantic sense, be a memorable companion to our youth. Unlike Communist countries or the BBC overlord (forcing many of the avantguard onto literal pirate ships for the right to broadcast what they choose), Americans had the freedom of multiple frequencies - a further demonstration of our power and individual independence. That era has passed. Sometimes, you just have to say goodbye.

The Internet used to be "original" too - but as corporations slither

tracey kelley
3.23.01 @ 11:33a

pant pant pant into this haven, this broadband nest of separate but connected individuals, some eggs will be stolen. Then where will the collective gather to affirm their identity?

adam kuehn
3.23.01 @ 12:28p

Of course you addressed the actual topic; but at the same time, you went beyond radio and into more depth about individual expression in the face of general corporate appeal to mass audiences. Your present follow-up just emphasizes my point.

Will the problems inherent in radio broadcasting invade the internet? That pretty much depends on control of the bandwidth. As long as there's enough of it to go around, forums like this will continue to flourish even while the corporate sites do their corporate thing. When the bandwidth narrows, though, we'll inevitably be having this conversation again somewhere else.

Incidentally, the uniting wartime sound you tout was mostly embodied by Glen Miller, not usually considered a poster boy for the avant garde (although I actually think that's a bum rap).

tracey kelley
3.23.01 @ 12:34p

Actually, I wasn't talking about sound when I mentioned wartime unity via the airwaves, but more how Murrow and his ilk brought "real news" to the nation with first-hand accounts, thereby calming the fears of foreign war involvement after the supposed "War to End All Wars."

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