Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eulogy for Radio

Radio station 101.9 WRXP debut in 2008, the very month I moved out of Weehawken. That was a particularly chaotic year; that month alone should have landed me in the loony bin for good. 

Discovering a new radio station of WRXP's caliber was a genuine pleasure, one that offset some of the crazy permeating my life at the time (as opposed to the normal crazy that consumes my every day). It couldn't come at a better time either as KROCK had just (again!) changed its format away from the rock it was known for to the every encroaching, every excretable pop/hip hop mix.

What I loved about RXP – then – was its devotion to rock music. Finally, here was a station playing the music that had yet to break through to mainstream, bands like Kings of Leon (pre Sex on Fire) and Muse and Mumford and Sons and others of that ilk. Bands that weren't on the pop stations at all (at the time) and were maybe breaking through on the (rare) rock station in the late night "new music" slots.

Matt Pinfield's morning show had phenomenal interviews that weren't timed promo slots but could go 10, 20 minutes as they dissected musical influences and motivations or traded stories from wild rock 'n roll days of the 80s and 90s. Pinfield has decades of music business experience under his belt and knows everyone (I suspect he may also know where the bodies and drugs are buried). Every morning he brought that experience and enthusiasm to the show. For once, I looked forward to the talking as much as the music because; one always elevated the other. I listened on the way in to work and piped the station through my computer during the workday to keep the music going. I told everyone about this great new radio station, I even blogged about it here. I absolutely loved it.

Slowly, much like New Jersey station 105.5 WDHA, this dedication changed. The interviews became pre-recorded, portions parsed out across the four-hour show or even over two or three days. I started flipping channels, the proliferation of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam and Led Zeppelin edging out Saving Able, and Black Stone Cherry and Muse. And oy, the 80s hair band music. I'm a child of the 80s and I still do not need to hear Welcome to the Jungle and Jump every bleeding day. (Take note DHA – Whitesnake and Poison need not apply all the freaking time and oh my giddy aunt, what is with playing the Ramones all the time?!). 

Where once RXP would play music while all other stations were running the 5-minutes-to-the-hour commercial block, now the same adverts filled their airwaves at the same time. I started listening less and less, flipping channels as I had before discovering the station. There was now little difference, particularly with WDHA. 

A few months ago, Pinfield and his partner Leslie Fram were moved out of The Rock Show morning slot and into the lunchtime hour. The show lost its pizazz and almost sounded automated as though Pinfield and Leslie had prerecorded their segments. More and more it seemed Leslie was taking the lead with Pinfield dialed back. Then this week, via his Twitter stream, Pinfield announced his departure from the station. Today, it seems, is the last broadcasting day for 101.9 WRXP in its current persona. Rumor is that a format change is in the making. Right. Because what we need right now is another Z100 clone. 

When it began, RXP touted the fact that it was an independent station that could bring this level of attention to music and artists because it lacked a corporate overload directing content based on spread sheets. I can only surmise that this situation didn't last and that this once great station got gobbled up, possibly right around the time I stopped being a devoted listener.

It's a shame. It's a bloody crime, really. In a society of sameness, where a trend is milked dry to the last drop, to see another promising station, one whose sole purpose was to celebrate rock music and the artists that make it, fold again as so many before it have to what will presumably be yet another station bent on pleasing the most common denominators of the populace, is hugely disappointing.

No wonder so many are turning to pay services like Pandora. Anybody got a link to that?

Rest in Peace, WRXP, my sometime friend.

See you on the B side.



  1. You can stream Pandora for free. At least you could last time I was there. And you have control over your play list.
    In the car, for me is satellite radio. Haven't missed broadcast radio since I got the new car.

  2. I had satellite radio in a rental car once and was quickly addicted.

    I thought Pandora was a pay service like Netflix? Both are accessible through my blu-ray player. Must investigate...

  3. The longer you live, the more you find things that you really enjoyed get "upgraded" by someone or some the very thing you really enjoyed is gone.
    Can't go to the same restaurant a year later to find it is no longer what you thought it was. Sigh
    Change is constant. Live long enough and all the neat things you liked go away.

  4. Irene - your shiny ray of sunshine is an encouraging as ever. ;-)

  5. I liked it when it was a jazz station. Then I enjoyed the mix of current/older rock. Sorry it is going to be shut down.

  6. I remember the CD 101.9 incarnation too, Roni.

  7. Chris Redding said: With Pandora you have control over playlist.

  8. That's a big enticement. Will have to check out Pandora sometime this weekend.