I think I stopped listening to the radio about 7 years ago. I had just started college and began playing in a band that did bad covers of third wave ska. Thus, I was old enough to start going to gigs and meeting musicians through other avenues that had nothing to do with transmitting radio waves or tuning in.
If it sounds so ancient–“transmitting radio waves”, “tuning in”–that’s probably because it is. I don’t think we even have a functioning radio in this house. If I need a music recommendation, I usually just ask the three old guys on Breakfast at Sulimay’s with a few clicks, rather than sit through an hour’s worth of Franco soundalikes on NU. It doesn’t mean I’m not a music fan. It just means I found other ways to enjoy music. 20,000 something songs on my hard drive attests to this (fuckyeah_piracy); I guess this is the case for anyone who has torrented entire discographies and never even gotten through half of them (sorry Kraftwerk). It’s tastemaking through inundation, which was undeniably something we left to the radio before the days of napster and realplayer.
Whenever I go on twitter now, my feed is inundated with friends and acquaintances getting weepy about the demise of NU 107. I owe a lot to this station. When I was 11, I could not get any sleep unless I had the static thrum of the graveyard shift lulling me to sleep through my pillow. The first gigs I went to on my own volition were all NU 107 sponsored gigs–Alternativity, Son of a Bar Tour, Summer Shebang. The first musicians I obsessed over were discovered through their playlists. The first record labels I actively sought out were recommended on their shows.
But I stopped listening to the radio more than half a decade ago. By the time I joined Jockoff I had no idea what the station was playing or who most of the DJs on board were (sorry!). I felt like one of those aging dads talking about the glory days of Rock and Roll, which was ridiculous, because it wasn’t a case of not keeping up. It was just a case of keeping up with other things (which I guess is how all the hipster cracks came about).
However, when faced with the question of whether radio is still a relevant medium, the answer is a resounding HELL YES. You come closer to a sense of self not only with everything you enjoy, but with everything you can admit to loathing. Again, taste comes with inundation; which is one radio’s primary roles. Had I not learned to sit through kupaw and Hanson, I probably wouldn’t have heard (and taped) every Jeff Buckley song I am still in love with to this day.
I’m teaching a design course right now and one of the most difficult concepts to tackle is taste. The argument here is that it is fucking impossible to teach taste, a myth which I will either confirm or bust by the end of the semester. The thing with taste is either you have it and are a reliable source or you don’t. Which takes us back to the people we consider reliable sources, a.k.a. the people who not only know things but have kept their ears and eyes open long enough to know what to absorb and what to filter out. The beauty of a rock station is having that shit covered for us before we’d figured it out for ourselves.
So that’s it, but at the same time that’s not all there is. There’s all this nostalgia over only getting a “Home of New Rock” once in a lifetime, fuck then make a “Home of Newer Rock”. It’s all just branding and NU stopped calling itself The Home of New Rock ages ago, anyway. It doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to listen to because that’s far from the truth. Heck, even Jam 88.3 has Matt and Kim on their playlists–a fact that has caused purists to lose their shit.
If the goal is to get good music out there, then keep in mind that the means are nothing short of infinite. Don’t be a purist. Keep your ears peeled. When kindassault would hold A*Fest, the guest bands wouldn’t shut up about how awesome it is that Manila has several gigs happening EVERY FUCKING NIGHT. Apparently, that’s more than you can say for most music scenes, and that is love.