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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

97.3 The Planet: A Eulogy

Monday, September 19, 2005

It came as a shock to me on Saturday morning that my favorite radio station in Kansas City had "changed formats." Where I tuned in anticipating some Coldplay or Robert Randolph or even Kathleen Edwards, I quite unexpectedly found Bon Jovi and Journey. Dude, that's just not right.

When I returned to Kansas City a little over a year ago, I was delighted--and I do mean delighted--to discover that a new, locally-owned radio station had popped up in my absence. 97.3 The Planet bore a pleasant resemblance to the mother-of-all-radio-stations, 97.3 KBCO in Boulder: the frequency was the same, the tagline ("World Class Rock") was identical, and the format was obviously lifted from the pages of KBCO, only with a little less Grateful Dead and a little more Green Day. And not only that, but 97.3 The Planet was "The FM home of the Royals," meaning that you could hear weekday Royals games on FM.

Alas, it was all too good to be true.

What I discovered when I called the ZZ Top-blaring monstrosity on Saturday morning was that the "format change" was long expected and was made necessary by the fact that The Planet was struggling along in DEAD LAST in FM ratings. My anger morphed. I wanted to be angry at The Man, the suits who had ripped an organic and integral community radio station from the airwaves without a thought; but The Man is in business, even if he is a local owner, and if The Man can't sell ads at a 2% listener rating, then what can he do?

Instead, my anger shifted to the mullet-headed, pickup driving radio listeners of Kansas City. Maybe is says more about me than it does about the heartland citizenry, but I obviously had no idea as to the severity of the situation. I was bopping along in my car every day in the blissful illusion that everyone else in town was doing the same thing. Somehow I pictured 20 and 30-somethings all over Kansas City humming along to Keane and Ben Broussard just like I was. How very, very wrong I have been.

This region is more Olathe than it is Kansas City, more Independence than Westport. The little midtown bubble in which I live is, alas, only that: a tiny bubble on the surface of a lake full of country and trailer rock radio stations.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:15 AM

2 Comments:

They did the same thing here in Philly. Y100 was the only alternative station in the Philly Market (XPN being Adult Alternative--only tolerable as wallpaper, not on my hour long commute).

One morning I woke up and thought my radio had broken....What is fiddy cent doing on my radio station...grr...
commented by Anonymous E dub, 5:57 AM  
Same thing (almost) here in Denver Broseph. We had 95.7 which was an affliate of the network of Kiss stations made famous in LA. They were trying to fill that cross niche in which I live with some alternative and a lot of R&B. One day I tuned in, actually listened for 10 minutes before I realized I didn't know any of the songs because they had gone Spanish overnight.
commented by Blogger Ryno, 4:04 PM  

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