AM Radio is Cool

by Brian Downey
Aug 30, 2000
No, seriously, it is!

You may be saying, "It's boring. There's nothing good on AM!" or, quite possibly, "It's all talk, that doesn't interest me."

Well, I beg to differ! Please, pull up your eyelids and let me explain.

Oh, the horror!

FM for the most part is music, right? I'm a fairly serious musician, and I really appreciate listening to other music. I find it a good way to expand my influences while writing my own songs. Well, I really mean steal riffs for my own songs. That's really what musicians mean when they say "influence"...puts a new spin on things, eh? Anyway, to get back on topic.

It didn't take long to realize that the few stations in Detroit that play modern music really don't play much music! Yep, they don't play much at all. At least in terms of actual content.

Behold the power of cheese!Most stations have a 40-or-so long track loop. I found this out from a friend-of-a-friend who happens to work at 101.1 WRIF. He told me that every week, the station sets a playlist partially determined by the Top 40 charts, and they run with it. He's worked at a few stations in Detroit, and also a few out of town in different states. According to him, just about all stations work this way. Don't believe me? Try listening to 101.1 for a few hours and not hear Billy Idol.

Well, so much for variety, eh? Just a little thinking comes up with the fact that the whole country is listening to roughly the same 40 songs. Booooreeee-iinnng. Granted, there is the occasional good program, like Big Sonic Heaven on 96.3 Sunday nights, but shows like that are few and far between.

Now, I can't speak for you. But personally I couldn't eat the same food every day, or wear the same clothes every day. I certainly couldn't the say same thing to the same people and perform the exact same routine every day. I'd go crazy. I guess it's the same with the music I listen to. So, how do I rectify the problem? With a CD player of course!

But lately my CD player has been acting funny. Most of the music I like to listen to is from local bands, and they make stuff on CD-R's. I don't think my car CD player likes CD-R's because it skips when I hit the gas. Not, bumps--but the gas. Go figure.

Vintage radio weighing as much as a middle-schooler.I can't bear to listen to FM anymore, so I began to listen to AM radio. At first, I listened to AM 950, which in Detroit is a superb news/traffic/weather station. If you're in your car, it's great to hear traffic updates ever 10 minutes. After a while I got a little bored started venturing around the dial. There is some truly horrible stuff, like country.. but then I found the "holy grail", so to speak:

Christian Radio.

Damn, is this stuff cool. Have you ever really listened to it? These people are nuts! It reminds me of milita propaganda. Some of the stuff they talk about is amusing. Some examples: And, besides where else can you hear cool words like "eucharist", "rapture", and "condemned" all the time?

Well, maybe Christian radio isn't your thing. There's plenty more stuff to listen to, it just takes some looking! I've got most of these programmed into my car radio, so I don't remember the frequencies.. but here's some shows I found that are awesome: Besides, half the fun is finding stuff by accident.

So, next time you're in your car... give it a shot. Go head, punch that "AM/FM" button and start slowly crusing around the dial. I found out most of the shows get even better at night. You won't be missing much on FM, other than maybe another Korn-clone band bitchin' about cookies.
Further information and related links:

WWJ News Radio 950 (Michigan)
Radio show about dead pets, UFOs, etc.

Please, send all spams, flames and complaints to billg@msn.com. Seriously, please understand that this is a personal point of view (not necesarily yours or mine). However, I must admit that I am an AM Radio addict now, too.