By now you've seen Juno, right? The precious independent film (from the Fox Corporation) that taught America to cheer for a knocked-up teenager (played by a 20-year-old actress) and think more openly about teaching contraception (as in science) in school instead of leaving it up to Jesus (as in fiction)?
If you haven't, don't tell me you're waiting by the mailbox for it. The classics, "the check's in the mail" and "I won't cum in your mouth," are harmless lies compared to "it's in my Netflix cue."
In Juno, the titular wisecracking teen claims her favorite music to be the raw, years-before-her-time rock of Patti Smith, The Runaways and The Stooges. Great, but the movie's entire soundtrack is made up of twee (it's a word now, just deal) "indie" shit that sounds like a sick cat dying inside of a poorly-tuned guitar.
It's a subtle bait-and-switch: Drop Patti Smith's name for cred, then deliver the limp tones of Kimya Dawson, a "singer" so blindingly talentless that the Hipster Nation should be required to deliver written apologies to all American Idol contestants past and present (Chris Daughtry excluded).
Local public radio is kind of the same way: Talk the talk, walk a different walk and hope nobody notices. KRCL 90.9 FM, currently in the middle of a PR shitstorm for trying to sneak a major format change past its change-fearing audience, has preached for years that the station belongs to the listeners who pledge money every spring and fall. Unfortunately, those listeners are too few to impress the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, KRCL's federal sugar daddy. Get the numbers—which have remained in the lower five figures for almost 30 years—up or the CPB says they'll pull the cash and give it back to those Sesame Street sodomites Bert and Ernie.
So instead of maybe making more of an effort—hell, any effort—to get the word out about a radio station that actually plays good music sans commercials (most common bitches about radio: too much shitty music, too many ads) and has held onto a loyal audience that was smart enough to find it on their own, KRCL management has decided "Hey, fuck it—let's go more mainstream in order to appeal to those idiots who like commercial radio." The weekday 6 A.M.- 6 P.M. volunteer DJs will be replaced by paid-and-stable daily guys and standardized playlists will be introduced next month. Actually, the playlists have already started seeping in. Had enough of that Juno soundtrack yet?
Now, before you call me a Negative Nelly (or worse), I don't think it'll be all that bad. There are only a handful of decent weekday shows on KRCL right now, all of which are newer—and already playing most of the music you'll find on the playlists of the successful public stations KRCL wants to duplicate. The switch will mostly push out dusty folk and bluegrass and the burnout hippies who still cling to it. The sooner that shit is relegated to the weekends, the better. You had your time, flower people.
Instead of worrying about the format change, the KRCL faithful should be asking, "How does management run a radio station with no listener growth for decades and still have a job?" You can only blame so much on the general public being too fucking stupid to recognize a quality product (which they are); I blame more on KRCL for being too lazy and complacent to get out and work it, and yet still collect a check. "Failing upward" is a corporate phenomenon, so it only makes sense that KRCL becomes more corporate.
Speaking of failing upward: KCPW 88.3, the other local public radio station that gets no state tax money, is up for sale after operating at a loss for years. The only reason this is news is because the guy (and his wife) who currently owns this "nonprofit" outfit makes an annual six-figure salary, supposedly because he's so damn good at running a station. So what if the station has reportedly bled over a million bucks in operating costs over the last few years? Don't doubt the radio genius—he makes more money than you do, so he must know what he's doing.
The worst part of all this? KRCL and KCPW are both good stations with deep community ties—we should all hope these changes are for the better, not the end. Think I'd hand over 800 words to a free rag for no pay if Jack FM or My 99.5 were in trouble? Fuck those stations; they contribute nothing to local consciousness or national culture. If you prefer the generic, one-size-fits-all Wal-Mart approach to your music and news, a) How did you end up reading SLUG? And b) You're already dead. I may hate Kimya Dawson, but at least I'm active about it—what are you doing?