So here lately I’ve seen a bunch of my local Twitter friends change their profile pic to a crossed-out 96X logo (local radio station, for anyone who might on the off-chance be reading this & not be from/in Hampton Roads, VA). This is in protest to two relevant facts I’ve discovered: 1.) the station has changed its music format & 2.) the station also cancelled the “Mike & Bob Show”, a shock-jock-ish radio talk show. My knee-jerk reaction is to call the Mike & Bob show sophomoric, homophobic, & vaguely insulting to one’s intelligence, but I’ll reserve my judgment since I haven’t listened to the show as thoroughly as some of my friends. I want to say first that this is my take, my opinion on the matter, limited though it may be, & I have some very good friends who are indeed extremely unhappy with the recent changes at 96X. To those ppl I want to say: I still love you guys, & I hope you still love me after this diatribe, but LIGHTEN UP. Seriously. I’m just firing off an opinion here.
Okay, first I’d like to examine 96X & FM Radio in general. Let’s face it. FM is a dinosaur. I’m sure there is money still to be made, and I’m the first to admit that I haven’t studied the numbers & some of this is simply my conjecture. However, I think it’s pretty clear that FM radio goes up against a lot more adversity than it used to: satellite radio, iPods, iPhones, other mp3 players & smart phones, music-on-demand via cable, Pandora, Last.FM, GrooveShark, Soundtrckr, etc. The list goes on. When I was a kid & 96X had just started, all we had was CDs/tapes or the radio. Different times. Oh yeah & we had to walk to school five miles in the snow, uphill, both ways. Derp.
FM Radio no longer tries to hit that cool niche that some stations once could afford to. It’s all streamlined to try to fit the broadest accepted format, and so what? Who cares? I don’t listen to FM Radio because it really, really sucks, in my humblest of opinions. It’s the same songs played over & over. There are commercial interruptions. Sometimes it’s static-y, and there’s always an annoying sound compression that makes the quiet parts of songs much too loud & destroys the dynamic I truly enjoy from certain music. It’s old, crappy technology, frequency modulation, & it could be used for something so much cooler. “WEEKENDS ROCK ON BLAHBLAHBLAH FM!” followed by Hoobastank’s “The Reason.” Are you kidding? Take me now, Lord. And so what there’s a “format change”? What did people expect? What’s popular with highschoolers is what gets played, b/c that’s the target demo. Those are the ppl who actually spend disposable income on music. The rest of us have bills to pay. Or BitTorrent. Don’t like it? Get an iPod… We have ON DEMAND now. This is the age of Hulu, Netflix, & their ilk. Plus Satellite radio.
And anyways, like the music format was so great before, yeah right. Saying 96X is your favorite radio station is like saying the Optima is your favorite Kia. It’s still some garbage & you know it.
Now on to Mike & Bob: as I’ve stated before, I didn’t really listen to the show. I have heard it a few times & I’m familiar with its format & general content, but I’m trying my best to reserve my judgment. Let me just state that it never made me want to listen to it actively. However, from talking to others, I’ve heard that the show had already peaked & they were kind of phoning it in anymore. I’ve also heard that moving them from the afternoon to the morning was the kiss of death. I don’t know, these are just people’s opinions. But the fact of the matter is: they work in FM Radio. What do you expect? It’s a business first & foremost, and a business’ only purpose is to increase owner’s equity. It’s Business 101. I’m not trying to sound like a cold & calculating, shrewd businessman, friend of the corporate fat-cat, but it’s the same deal w/ any company. McDonald’s, Macy’s, Starbucks, Murray/Bunim Productions, Ocean Mystique, Busch Gardens, The Birch Bar… are all the same way, no different. They’re out to make money & increase the company’s/owner’s bottom line. Of course, said companies want to be friendly & attractive to the largest number of people possible in order to effectively reach that end & build customer loyalty, but they will always do what’s best for the company. Unless they’re morons. Or swindlers.
Regardless, Mike & Bob are going to be fine. I’m sure they were handsomely compensated, and after 10 long years of doing what I’m pretty sure was a SWEET, GRAVY-BISCUIT job, they’ll be okay. I take a bit of exception to people saying stuff like, “We just want them to know that they were appreciated & their 10 years didn’t go to waste!” What the hell are people talking about when they say that? Oh that’s right, I forgot: they were producing brilliant work with insightful social commentary, interviews with academic & business luminaries, and such eloquent, thoughtful, and articulate dialogue. They greatly enhanced the lives of those in Hampton Roads with their always-thought-provoking shows!
No, this is stupid & I’m making a point. Look, it’s not like what they did is exactly easy. They’re adept at putting on an entertaining show, and I’m sure they’ve had some high ratings in the past. Clearly, people care, but let’s not lay it on too thick, eh? Personally, I’m far more entertained listening to the local PodCast “Your Music Show”, because that corporate gloss is thankfully absent, and there’s a cool, underdog, almost-Pirate Radio feel to it. I wish everyone involved with The Mike & Bob Show all the best, but to those who are apparently soul-crushed by the show’s cancellation, I say: get over it. As for attacking Bob Sinclair: are you sure you know what you’re talking about? How much experience do YOU have running multiple FM radio stations?
Here comes a dash of Pure Speculation on my part: the new Arbitron ratings ranked Mike & Bob poorly, and thus Sinclair Communications cannot make as much money on advertising. It’s a bottom line.
Ready for this? For all you conspiracy theorists out there: this is all one big elaborate marketing campaign designed to drive ratings through the roof.
Do I believe this? No. Well… maybe, but regardless I wouldn’t wager any money on it.
That said, I’m all for the spirit of protest, rebellion, and revolution. So to everyone dedicated to bringing Mike & Bob back: good luck. I don’t personally care one way or another what happens to the show, I’ve said my piece, but if it makes you happy, then I’m with you! #pantsoff