Classic Crock: Part I
We're lucky in that while moving the Shears organization base-of-operations north to the Wilkes Barre-Pittston-Scranton megalopolis, we get to drive through three radio markets — Philadelphia, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton and Northeast PA. That means that, with some dial spinning, we get to hear the Classic Rock format stations in all three. It doesn't matter the call-signs or frequencies. They're all pretty much the same, right? You know the one in your own market. Spin the FM dial right now and stop at the station playing "More than a Feeling". That's the one.
Yes. They all sound the same. We know that. We still listen. They've all distilled out the top 63 or 64 rock classic tracks and play them over and over, and then they play them some more. One or two top main tunes per artist, on average, and maybe 3-4 for your mega talents like Bowie or the Stones. We all know that and have accepted it.
They don't even go that deep into the greatest hits CDs we've all collected over the years. They've focus-grouped the exact number of songs from the fixed selection created between 1965 and 1976, the exact tunes that will maximize revenue for the mix of advertisers that have joined the format. The same songs, the same sponsors and the same endless, irritating, overheated self-promotion.
Oh they'll do the special countdowns and weekends, play rarer songs, and milk the promotion of them to the hilt, like the one right now that's doing a ridiculous "Raiders of the Lost Classics" weekend. Well hell if these songs are so great, warranting a whole weekend, why not play them the rest of the time? What it comes off as, to this listener anyway, is a weekend-long acknowledgement that they're holding out on us.
But it doesn't put us off. No. It's almost comforting that an entire generation can settle into such media complacency. Yes.
These frequency holders have discovered a way to squeeze value out of the airwaves and so they do. Get a radio station and start your own, you say? Many people think to. The ones that look into it will find that they'd sooner be able to gather the capital to build a suspension bridge. The government regulates these airwaves — to prevent overlap and interference, they say — and as with nearly everything a government regulates, a shortage was created. So the owners found themselves in possession of valuable assets. Valuable quite beyond the means of an individual or even a small company of individuals.