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July 12, 2006

A Man Scorned

During the first week of July, I suffered a betrayal that shook me to my very foundation, and disturbed me so much that it’s taken until now to write about it. It was sudden and unexpected and seemingly defies logic.

During the first week of July, my favorite radio station decided to change its format.

Monterey is probably one of the smallest independent media markets you’ll come across, but for the past few years we’ve been fortunate to have one of the best alt-rock stations I’ve ever heard. It was comparable to KROQ in Los Angeles, Live 105 in San Francisco, and...well, that’s about all I can compare it to (is 91X still going in San Diego? I'm not sure). But trust me, it was pretty darn cool.

Then without warning, they tinkered with the format to include rap music alongside its standard modern rock. They alternate back and forth between styles, so now a typical four-song sequence would be something like 50 Cent followed by Matchbook Romance followed by Kanye West followed by AFI. I mean...huh?

Their new moniker is “The Revolution,” but instead of feeling groundbreaking, the overall vibe just seems really weird. Am I missing something? Was this trend pioneered in a big city somewhere? Has this format been successful someplace else that I’m not aware of? Are there huge groups of kids out there who are swapping heavy metal and gangsta rap music files on Napster? The whole thing just seems baffling to me.

Thankfully, they haven’t completely abandoned the old format. But imagine if your longtime girlfriend suddenly came home with a pentagram tattoo and an introductory witchcraft book. You’d probably hang around for a while to see where things headed (especially if the, um, “relationship” was good), but deep down you would be thinking of getting one foot out the door before things got too bizarre.

My relationship with my radio station was good. I was satisfied. I never let my ears wander around the dial. (Yes, I can have feelings for a radio station. Really – at this point, does this surprise you?) But I can’t help feeling like this is the beginning of the end.

If so, it would truly be a sad development in my daily existence. And worst of all (you knew this was coming), it might even affect my running.

In my daily travels by car, I’m a traditional radio guy. I haven’t converted to satellite radio, and I haven’t invested in an iPod or mp3 docking system. I have a lot of CDs, but to keep things fresh I’ve always tuned in to (what used to be) our great alternative rock station.

Now here’s the connection to running. At least two or three days per week, I leave my house before 5:00 AM to drive somewhere for my morning run. Driving through the darkness, I use the up-tempo rock music to help keep my eyes open and stimulate some adrenaline production for the workout that lies ahead.

And since I never run with headphones, the last song I hear typically stays in my head throughout that morning’s run. I’ve become accustomed to hammering out the miles to the beat of Blink 182, Velvet Revolver, Linkin Park, or the Offspring. I don’t know if these songs helped me cover the miles any faster, but it’s become a familiar groove that I’ve embraced over the years.

So my question is this: Am I going to run any differently after listening to Chamillionaire, Pit Bull, or Lupe Fiasco? Is my alertness going to be adversely affected by getting less than my RDA of hard rock in the mornings? Will my internal rhythm be offset to the point of disrupting my natural running cadence? Am I going to start wearing my running cap sideways and tilted, or use a giant rotary clock on a chain around my neck instead of a Timex on my wrist?

OK, that’s a lot of questions. But you can sense how I’m troubled by all of this.

As surprising as it may seem (even more so after reading this post), I’m a grown man. I know what I like, and what works for me. I enjoy rap music primarily as a comedic diversion, but I’m not going give up my identity as a new rock aficionado. I don’t foresee myself buying into the whole hip-hop lifestyle, especially since I couldn’t afford the yacht or SUV limo or the gold-plated grill for my teeth. And I’m darn sure not going to let some stinking radio station have a negative impact on my training.

Like that guy keeping a closer eye on his girlfriend, I’m going to let this situation with the radio station play out a bit and see what transpires. I'm hoping it's just a short-lived experiment, before they see how misguided it was and return to the old formula - kind of like Coca-Cola did after their crazy "New Coke" idea bombed. But I realize I may not be sticking around for long, and I’ll have absolutely no reservations about severing my ties to this particular Revolution if necessary.

And when that happens...let’s just say if you don’t already have stock in iTunes, this might be an opportune time to buy in.


matt 7/12/06, 11:19 AM  

That is mighty frustrating, Donald. Perhaps there will be more alternative-rap cover’s like Dynamite Hack’s Boyz in Da Hood to keep you interested and laugh at the same time.

Hey, did you have that girlfriend, too? When mine made her own candles for “ceremonies”, I was straight out the door.

By the way, 91X is still alive and well.

backofpack 7/12/06, 11:58 AM  

Donald, you must have some really strange girlfriends in your past...

Change is hard and stressful isn't it. It's funny how one little thing (not that this is little, oh, no, I'm sure it's huge) can disrupt our lives.

If you do want to fit in, I'm sure you'd look good running in shorts that hit you mid-shin and hang just below your butt, and maybe those clunky big shoes, untied, of course. You'll be happenin!

angie's pink fuzzy 7/12/06, 12:31 PM  

are you going to run listening to who? who is chamillionaire, pit bull or lupe fiasco? god, I couldn't even spell the names!

it's an experiment. maybe you'll get better.

nah, who am I kidding.

Alt-rock rules.

jeff 7/12/06, 12:39 PM  

donald, you had me rolling with the flavor flav reference. too funny.

hey, two things.

first, i know you can't listen to it in the car, but check out indie1031.com. that's the new indie station here in la and features shows by steve jones of the sex pistols, henry rollins and a really great, eclectic playlist. it'll go from interpol to the clash to rhcp and then to they might be giants. wonderful stuff.

second, i say we (being your readers) make you some pre-run cd's that you can listen to. i'm sure the mixes would end up being just as diverse as if you were listening to a radio station.

Cliff 7/12/06, 12:45 PM  

Hm...i. hear you. Biggest beef with radio was there is one company in my city owns a few radio stations. As marketing, each station target different group of ppl, adult contemproary for adults, hip hop stuff for kids. One day, they decided to swap DJs for all the stations. So a DJ that use to do kids stuff is hosting adult contemproary. That doesn't even make sense. The audience will not be able to connect to him.

And I hear the altnerative DJ in a adult contemp radio station. Argh...this is like wearing two different socks.

stronger 7/12/06, 1:11 PM  

A radio station can make or break where you live. Take for example Hawaii- top 40 mixed with hawaiian music. Ugh. I've given up on raido where I live now. I'd rather listen to NPR than the weird mix they throw together. I just come here to get updated on the latest in music trends.

Fe-lady 7/12/06, 2:50 PM  

Kinda like when they discontinue your favorite running shoe, hmmm?
We have been in the same boat here in Tucson-just when you find a station or DJ you can live with, whoosh, they are gone!

jeanne 7/12/06, 3:11 PM  

That is just so...so...WRONG! And sadly, typical. Declare your independence from MSM: podcasts! And playlists! It's all over for radio.

The revolution will not be broadcast.


Anne 7/12/06, 3:49 PM  

I've been thinking about the same music-mind connection during running. I too keep the last song I hear on my mind, especially during a race.

Like Matt said, 91x is still going strong and finally out of the clutches of Clear Channel. In fact, San Diego now has two alt-rock stations. The third fell victim to country music fanatics.

olga 7/12/06, 6:23 PM  

You know, even if I don't give a hoot for a radio station, tri, certain singer or group (or actress), the way you write is absolutely drawing:) Ever tried for a stage job?

Ben, aka BadBen 7/13/06, 7:28 AM  

There is only one FM Alt-Rock station left in my market area; the rest have gone to Country and Rap, but mostly Country. There are now 6 Country stations in this market. Does that even make sense?!!!

I will listen to alt-Country, occasionally, and I'll listen to underground Hip-Hop, but I'm mostly an underground Rock guy, at heart, so the "Main Stream" FM-stuff has always been just shit, to me, anyway. My car has satellite radio, and that helps, but for 50 & 100-milers, I use the old IPod that's been loaded-up from my CD collection. It works wonderfully.

robtherunner 7/13/06, 8:14 PM  

Dude this seems pretty existential to me. I can't believe your dissin my home boys 50 cent and Kanye West though. Actually I am more of an old school rap afficianado and only like a bit of the new stuff. Don't like 50 cent, but I like Kanye West. He hooked me with "Jesus Walks".

Running from my House 7/14/06, 5:48 AM  

this betrayal has happened THREE seperate times in my life, in three different markets. It was enough to make me switch to CD's and ipods. I will not trust again.
The thing that really get's my goat is that there is absolutely no warning when it happens. Friday: good music, Monday: CRAP. and not one DJ has ever said anything about it.

Darrell 7/14/06, 11:58 PM  

I was going to suggest taping Kevin and Bean for you somehow. There must be a podcast available too. That last song thing must happen to a lot of us. I really hate it when its a stupid jingle.

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