Thursday, November 20, 2008

RIP Sirius Disorder Radio

Okay, now I'm really good and pissed off. Yesterday I'm driving to the service station and I turn on the car radio to my favorite station, Sirius Disorder -- and what do I see on the screen but "Led Zeppelin Radio." Led Zeppelin Radio?!?!?!? What do we need Led Zeppelin Radio for? Sirius already has Elvis Presley Radio, Bruce Springsteen Radio, AC/DC Radio, Grateful Dead Radio (okay, maybe that one I can understand), and Rolling Stones Radio. How could you possibly derive an entire station's programming from Led Zeppelin? True, I'm sure I could fill 24 hours a day with programming based on the Kinks' music; in fact, I'd love it if somebody gave me that opportunity. But you and I know very well that nobody is going to devote an entire satellite radio station to the music of the Kinks. Led Zeppelin, though, that apparently is another story.

Well, I don't begrudge Zep their slice of the airwaves, honestly I don't. However, the station it displaced -- Sirius Disorder -- was the main reason why I got Sirius installed in our car in the first place. That was MY station. You never knew what was going to come on next -- soul, jazz, classic rock, opera, indie alt, reggae, country, folk, a symphony, it was all open territory. I loved that eclectic approach. Even more important was the fact that Disorder had real DJs, people with personality like Vin Scelsa, Meg Griffn, Rick Allison, Larry Kirwin of the Black 47s, The Kennedys, David Johansen. Whereas several other Sirius stations just play pre-programmed set lists of the same cache of tracks over and over, on Sirius the DJs were individuals with personality, who would come on and tell stories and play the quirkiest stuff imaginable. I dug it so much.

Some afternoons Meg Griffin would hit a run of 12 or 15 songs in a row that I have on my iPod, as if she were borrowing my playlists. I was in heaven. Where else was I gonna hear Nick Lowe and John Hiatt and solo Ray Davies along with Sam Cooke and Dusty Springfield and Bob Marley and Coltrane and Sinatra? Who else ever plays Ron Sexsmith or Robyn Hitchcock or Thea Gilmore or Marshall Crenshaw or Jill Sobule? And sometimes I'd get them all in one show.

I should have known that Disorder was going to be Sirius's stepchild station. They kept moving the number all over the dial, every few months, without warning. Now they say the Sirius concept has been absorbed into a new station called The Loft, on channel 29. The Loft promises all sorts of groovy artist interviews and guest DJs and a whole show every week about roots music, and they're keeping Vin Scelsa and my girl Meg and David Jo (a.k.a. Sri Rama Lama Ding Dong), even though they're moving Johansen to some godawful midnight to 3am shift. They're keeping the Lou Reed Show, too (which, I regret to say, is a bit of a bore). But where is Larry Kirwin going? Because I was really starting to enjoy hanging out with his Celtic Crush show every Saturday. I had a relationship going with that show.

But do the suits care? They do not. It's all about hitting the big demographics; quality, and taste, and deep attachment are nothing if they don't score the numbers. They'd rather please my 13-year-old by playing the same 29 songs over and over on Alt Nation. It's a no-brainer.



Natsthename said...

Which is why I listen to my iPod in the car. No suit is going to dictate what I listen to. I guess The Loft absorbed another station my internet pal, MyThermos, used to listen to called The Vault.
I guess your stations were just too specialized for Sirius! How dare you have such eclectic taste?

Holly A Hughes said...

Amen, sister. For a while there I couldn't play the iPod in the car (my daughter yanked out the Monster cable's cord) and I thought we could get by just with Sirius.

I bought a new Monster cable this very afternoon. It's iPod all the way for me now!

Anonymous said...

As an XM subscriber, I gotta say that some of the channel changes that have come about as a result of the merger have been rough on my end as well. I liked XM 12 (X-Country, a great Americana/alt-country station - RIP) far better than Outlaw Country (I could do without Mojo Nixon's constant string of F-bombs when the kids are in the car with me).

That said, I'm glad that I'm getting Little Steven's Underground Garage.

(BTW, I LOVE your taste in music!)

Fusion 45 said...

As I was reading your, um, rant, I thought: "'tis the fallout of Sirius and XM getting in bed together". I dated a girl once who was really into the Ramones and I was really into Blood, Sweat and Tears. You can see how that was never going to work out.

I used to hear Meg Griffin when she did afternoons in NYC (and I couldn't stand her) so I avoided her show. But, I loved what I heard otherwise on Disorder.

iPods are supposed to be an alternative to Clear Channel, not an alternative to the alternative.

Music Junkie at Fusion 45

Natsthename said...

To me, the iPod was an alternative to commercial rock radio, as I still love NPR and some other cool stations like WERS in Boston (which is a public supported college station..and it is fabulous). I will never, ever pay for radio. (Oh sure, I thought I'd never pay for TV, but I do.) I hear up and comers on the net, get lots of free downloads from them and their record companies, and on music blogs, rip my own cds, and stick it all on the iPod. I can play that thing for days without a repeat song!

Anonymous said...

I'm an iPod in the car guy. I've never subsribed to the satellite radio thing. It does appear to offer many more options than what you get on commercial radio. Yet, it caves in by offering the same schlock heard on commercial radio. There's got to be a decent public radio station out there your way that has some great music shows? Out in St. Louis, there's a great community radio station that plays a ton of great music. But even with that, it's hard to turn away from the iPod when I just gotta hear something in particular. I understand your rant. The radio show has widened your musical perspectives which show through on this blog and they throw it away for some 24-7 Led Zep channel? Damn..


Holly A Hughes said...

We do have WFUV here, Spencer, which is wonderful (who else would have sponsored Nick Lowe to play Carnegie Hall last month?). Trouble is, I don't commute to work -- all I have to do is walk down the apartment hallway to my office -- so most of my driving is on weekends, from NYC up to rural Connecticut, and we fairly soon get out of FUV range. That's an hour-and-a-half drive when some quality radio would really be a blessing.

I'm working now on my iPod playlists for the Thanksgiving drives!