The Day the Music Died … Again?!

"AAAANND welcome to 97.3 The Wolf!”

Um, what? I wouldn’t preset a Country station on my car stereo if my life depended on it. I flipped around frantically, trying to find The Sound instead of the bumpkin bonanza that was currently wreaking havoc on my speakers. Zilch. Gone. I later found out that The Sound, which enjoyed popularity in its early broadcasting stages but was forced last fall to move from 94.9 FM to 97.3 FM after its rankings plummeted, is now available only on HD radio due to continued low ratings. —-

Left penniless from my first year of college, I genuinely can’t afford to fix or replace my broken iPod right now, nor can I afford the commodities of satellite radio, HD radio, iTunes cards or even many CDs aside from my absolute favorites. I know I’m not the only one. That’s why radio is so (potentially) great. It’s free. It’s simple. It’s there, 24/7.

What’s an Indie-loving and dirt poor Cincinnatian to do?

I’ll be the first to admit that 97.3 The Sound was by no means a haven for Alternative music, let alone good Alternative music. The fact is, even in the era of The Sound, there was no station dedicated to playing Alternative/Indie music. Many of The Sound’s selections were mainstream and overplayed. But when virtually every other radio station is playing either a mish-mash of Top 50 poppy flotsam, twangin’ oldies or hair bands, it was the lesser of evils. While 89.7 FM (WKNU) has arguably most consistently played the best assortment of genuine Alternative music in Cincinnati, much of their airtime is centered around talk radio, not music.

Why is there no longer enough of a demand for any kind of Alternative radio from the younger demographic? It’s clear the iPod phenomenon, music Web sites like MySpace and pirating have played a huge role in making music—especially Alternative music—more accessible to the hoi polloi on a daily basis. In a sense, that’s great. But it’s also triggered a staggering decrease in the popularity of radio in general, not just Alternative radio.

In a 2007 study by Paragon Media Strategies, 73% of 14-24-year-olds reported getting their music from sources other than radio, while 85 percent of respondents claimed they’d choose to listen to music on an MP3 player over the radio. It seems a little sad that forms of communication like radio continue to fade. There’s something fun about that quick-talking DJ, the listener request hours, the silly contests.

I also know that there have got to be enough Cincinnatians, like me, who would appreciate and support a public Alternative radio station. No, I don’t want The Sound back. Give us a real Alternative radio station, Cincinnati, and maybe we’ll give you our ears. Until then, it looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time in the CD section of the library.