Just Play Along

The only place I listen to the radio is in my car. Usually I forget the charger for my iPod, so the radio must do. I listen to NPR and a handful of stations, and switch around a lot. I like one station in particular that plays those 80’s classics (ouch) and some newer music that I rather like. Sometimes, I’ll download those news songs on my iPod.

The other day I was listening to some old 80’s song, and about a minute into it, I heard absolute silence. At first I thought, What’s wrong with my radio? I really could take or leave the song, but silence? That was strange. In seconds, a joyful robotic voice chimed in and said something to effect of,

“That song has been yanked out of rotation, because listeners like you voted if off our playlist.”

Yanked? Wow, the power. Really, I could take or leave the song, and maybe it should be out of rotation. But, what if I had loved the song? What if I was singing along (insert scratchy record sound effect), and blip, the song is gone?

Apparently, the way it works, is that disgruntled listeners can text that they dislike a song with a five-digit code. Simple enough. But what’s really going on here? I mean is it the same twenty people texting their dislikes? Hmm?

I know I can pop in my music if I’m organized enough, but on principle, should it be up to this band of dissatisfied devotees to determine the whole lot for everyone else? They could simply change the station couldn’t they? Since I listen to the radio only in my car, I can’t participate in this mudslinging. For crying out loud, I am driving. Are they, hmm? Are they texting while driving? Tsk, tsk.


Here’s another desperate act. In order to compete with the masses of short-attention spanners, a radio station in Alberta, Canada is reformatting songs to fit a play length of no more than two minutes. They don’t want their listeners to be bored, for heaven’s sake. I heard this story on the radio, too. In other words, that classic song you grew up with and is a part of you, a song which is perhaps 3 minutes and 20 seconds in length, is now limited to two minutes. That’s right. Axed. Whole verses deleted, and probably the guitar solo. No!

I liken it to the cliff notes version of a song, which can’t possibly capture the heart and soul of the whole song. It’s like smelling the food without tasting it. It’s an incomplete experience, not to mention, what must be a far cry from the artist’s intentions. I can’t imagine any artist who would accept this.

This radio station commented that the two-minute mark is approximately the amount of time it takes for people to switch stations. This switching of songs before they are over is a product of easy access to musical choices on iPods and other listening devices you see. They have this habit of swiping through songs, and it’s just a habit they can’t possibly break. Certainly, they conducted numerous studies to test this theory.

Remember when…the radio station was all we had. Anyone?

This extends beyond our favorite songs. It’s simply this:


I guess if you don’t, you can always read a book.

What do you think? Should songs be reformatted to two minutes? Do “dislikes” drive the content?

Photo credits: www.comicvine.comTambako the Jaguar via photopin cc

36 thoughts on “Just Play Along

  1. Terrestrial radio is doomed. In the immortal words of Ed Grimley, they’re as doomed as doomed could be. There are too many better choices out there and they’re trying anything to stay relevant. But it’s all in vain. Nobody needs to sit through commercials anymore. The golden goose is dead, I’m afraid.


    1. I hear what you’re saying, Mark, but I still listen. I guess because it’s there. But you’re right. They will do anything to hang on to an audience, which is probably shrinking all the time. Doomed as you say, like cable television. I don’t watch commercials anymore and I don’t miss them, not one bit!


  2. Back in the early days, songs were released with a certain time frame involved in order to get air time.On the other hand, many of today’s radio stations don’t use DJs, thus prepare their playlist in advance …. and seek information about songs from the listeners. Oh well … keep you iPod charged and ready to go.


  3. To be honest, I don’t listen to the radio. They keep playing songs I don’t like so I’ve put my favourite songs on a USB stick and shoved it in the car stereo.
    It’s not right, though, cutting all songs to 2 minutes. Imagine such classics as “Freebird” cut to 2 minutes. They’ve hardly gotten going by then 🙂


    1. Yeah, right! I can’t believe they would get away with cutting songs. Who knows. I bet there will be people out there who don’t know the difference! Just another chapter in how times have changed. It seems as though most people have their music ready for the car you like do. Someday, radio will be a thing of the past, if it isn’t already. It will be like muzak in the grocery store.


  4. That’s crazy. I’d hate to have my favorite songs reduced in time. If I don’t like a song, I’ll change the channel. Cutting it down to two minutes won’t change that for me. Can you imagine if they took an author’s book and took out parts to make it less than 200 pages? Yikes.


    1. It’s a strange idea, isn’t it? You’re right. If you don’t like the song in the first place, cutting it isn’t going to change that. There’s those cliff notes, of course, which can be a good study guide. Imagine if they did not for all books just because. That would be a shame.


  5. I only listen to music on the radio when I’m in the car, too. Both of the situations you describe are ridiculous. Like you said, what’s the threshold for a song getting axed from the rotation? And how does the radio know those disgruntled listeners represent anything close to a groundswell of their listeners. We all know that people are more likely to complain than to support, so it just means the complainers win. And that whole two minute thing — that’s outrageous!


    1. Complainers win! That’s it. It really could be the same group of complainers. Oh, I don’t know why I listen. I just try to ignore it I guess. I would never put up with the two minute thing! That’s not happening. That would be the end of radio for me.


  6. I rarely listen to the radio, have all my favorite songs on my iPod. I can’t see cutting down the music to 2 minutes. That’s crazy and a lot of great songs you need to hear the whole thing. I think this people get bored within 2 minutes is stupid. But I do know people seem to have short attention spans nowadays, and it’s sad because they miss so much jumping from one thing to another like crazy frogs. Great post Amy.


    1. Attention spans seems to be getting shorter. I think we’re all trying to consume so much, that we often don’t get it all. Just bits. Maybe music has come to that for some people. Oh, what a shame. They are missing out. Lots of frogs of there, Jackie. Thank you!


  7. That just makes me sad. And it says a lot about our society. Can you imagine never listening to Nights in White Satin or Stairway to Heaven?


  8. Reducing songs to two minutes tells me that people with ADD rule, Amy, and that’s disturbing. Whoever takes the time to text a five digit code to express their dismay with a song to have it yanked while it’s playing is worrisome, too. Is that the best use of a smart phone? This is a reflection of how dumbed down segments of our society has become.


    1. You’re so right, V. Our society is so dumbed down, I don’t know why I even chose to participate in any of this. I should shut this radio down! And the shorter song is ridiculous, driven by unfocused maniacs. Just wait until the smartphone is plugged into our brains….Oh, help us.


  9. It seems to me there will be repercussions to the cutting of songs. There has to be some kind copyright law that would protect artists from this kind of things. It sounds like a gimmick to me. I would think the artists could put a stop in some way to such a practice. Maybe they will become known as the “Sampler” station.
    The reality is, here in Canada, the radio station already has Cancon restrictions on what it plays. There are very specific rules about the amount of Canadian content that must be played and the time frames that it must be played in. There are also very specific rules about what qualifies as Canadian content. Our governing body for TV/Radio/Film is the CRTC and sometimes they just suck. OK. A lot of the time.


    1. I agree, Michelle. I can’t imagine they would get away with this. There must be copyright issues here. I wonder if they actually have done this. It’s great to hear the Canadian point of view. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I had no idea that Canada had so many restrictions on the radio. A Sampler station, I guess if that’s what they’re shooting for. It all seems rather dreadfully sad to me. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂


  10. Your post is hitting a nerve. So much of pop music is manufactured, not so much created, so this two minute format is part of that trend. I believe in brevity and getting to the point, but anything that touches the soul like music, should, so to speak, follow the beat of its own drum.


    1. So true, Brenda. A lot of pop music is already so artificial. You said it so well here…music should follow the beat of its own drum. Yes, yes!! We, as listeners, shouldn’t interfere with the creation. I can’t believe people think they can mess with it. Just who do they think they are anyway?


  11. I totally agree with you, Amy. What’s the point of cutting off a song after two minutes (what an insult to the artist!). And if people don’t like a song they can change channels instead of ‘texting it off’. What’s the world coming to?

    I remember when I was a kid we only had a choice of two radio stations. It was either classic or rock and I naturally chose rock 😉


    1. Indeed, what an insult to the artist! And this disliking business, well, it’s so negative, isn’t it? The world is changing, yes. It’s strange to experience these kind of changes that seem to happen under the radar.

      There was only a couple channels I listened to as a kid. Rock was one, the other more poppy. Ha ha! Rock on, sister! 🙂


  12. Amy, I had no idea there was an underground movement to shorten the time span of songs. Like you said, the guitar solos, are usually where it’s at. Imagine cutting U2’s songs in two minutes . . . listeners wouldn’t get the pleasure of absorbing one of Ireland’s greatest imports.


    1. I just know of this one radio staton, which I think is outrageous! I hope it doesn’t become a movement, Anka. I might lose faith in humanity. We would really be shortchanged. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.


    1. That’s great you have a station you like, Dawn. Are stations in Vancouver much different? One thing I can say about that first station with all the dislikes is that there aren’t as many commercials. That’s definitely an upside!


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