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?

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