Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Guerilla Radio

One day, driving home from school, I turn on the radio to hear a song called "What's Left of the Flag." The artists, Flogging Molly, has become one of my favorite bands. Now, sitting here, wearing my Flogging Molly T-shirt, I discover that the radio station I was listening to all those years ago has just shut down.

I grew up listening to WBCN, and I had come to consider the station as a landmark in the electromagnetic spectrum of Boston. So naturally, the news of its imminent demise came as bit of a shock &mdash a very concrete example of how modern media is changing.

The tendency is to blame iPods and MP3s for killing the radio, but I'm not sure if it is true. NPR's podcasts give me the opportunity to listen to programming that I enjoy, such as Car Talk, without me having to tune in on a Sunday afternoon. WBCN's song list will even live on via the station's website.

Infinity bigshot, Oedipus, sticking to his pseudonym even on PBS's Greater Boston, points out that only half of a radio station's job is the songs. Good radio content is determined by character, and the homoginization and nationalization of radio content has made the airwaves boring.

The Rock of Boston built its reputation on the creation of personalities, and a commitment to Boston's local scene. However, in recent years BCN lost the spark that introduced me to bands like Flogging Molly, the Dropkick Murphys, and showed the country bands like U2 and The Pixies (It also had a strange affinity for Irish bands).

So Boston says goodbye to an a piece of history, even though the golden age may have ended years ago. Whether it is the cause or the effect, the trend seems to be clear: The airwaves are full of naught but the most mainstream of media, and listeners are turning to internet and satellite radio for niche and novel content.


An addendum for people in the Boston area, one of BCN's major local features, Boston Emissions, is slated to continue on WZLX 100.7 in August.

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