Why I Hate Local Radio

Let me preface this by saying, “Yes – I am a little OCD, it seems”.

Okay, now that THAT’S out of the way, let me explain. I don’t listen to radio very often around here, almost exclusively when I’m in my car. But when I do, the radio is usually tuned to WXPN, a local station that focuses on more independent (read: folk and singer-songwriter) music. However, there are times when WXPN is playing some programming (such as Kid’s Corner or during their pledge drives) that I have had to turn elsewhere, and my first two choices have been two rock stations – 93.3 WMMR and 94.1 WYSP.

Around Halloween, I started noticing something about those two stations – there seemed to be a ridiculous number of times that I would be listening and songs from a limited number of bands would be playing: primarily Guns ‘n’ Roses, Metallica and Nirvana. It was a little bit of a joke – any time I turned them on, I figured that the chances were about 50-50 that one of those bands would be on. But as I listened more and more, I found out that it wasn’t as much of a joke as I had thought. So, enter the OCD and I started tracking what I was hearing.

Lo and Behold, I found that WMMR and WYSP do seem to have a rather limited stable of songs that they play. From the day before Thanksgiving until the end of the year, I kept a tally in the car of what they were playing, and I found that 10 bands were accounting for almost 50% of all of the music I heard on these stations; in fact, SIX bands were accounting for almost 1/3 or more of all of the songs they were playing. See below for the stats (the ‘Big 6’ are in bold):

Guns n Roses 3 6
Metallica 3 3
Nirvana 3 5
AC-DC 1 4
Led Zep 3 4
Ozzy 3 3
sub-total 16 29.1% 25 41.7%
Pink Floyd 2 2
The Who 1 2
Tom Petty 2 3
Grungers* 2 1
Total 23 41.8% 33 55.0%
* other Nirvana-clones like STP, Alice in Chains

So, as you can see WMMR’s songs were from the ‘Big 6’ accounted for 29% of their airplay, with the top 10 ‘bands’ being over 40%; for WYSP, the numbers were even worse – 41.7% from the ‘Big 6’ alone, and a whopping 55% of their music (that I heard) coming from just 10 ‘bands’.  Pretty glum when it comes to hearing a variety of music – but great, I guess, if the bands listed are your favorites.  One thing I didn’t track was the number of times I heard the same songs by these bands, and that happened at least a couple times (such as Tom Petty’s “American Girl” being played 3 times out of 5 total plays).

The Trend Worsens

So, I figured I was done with this after finding out that I was right – commercial radio sucks because they play the same stuff repeatedly.  But then, in the first 3 days of 2009, I found out that it was even worse than I had feared.  I literally went 5 or 6 songs in a row between the two stations – and every one of them was from the ‘Big 6’ bands.  Every. Single. Song.

Since 1/1/09, WMMR has played 6 songs out of 11 (54.5%) from those 6 bands; WYSP has played SEVEN (7) songs out of 11 (63.6%) from that limited stable of bands – including two G ‘n’ R and 2 AC-DC alone.

Now, I love hard rock and with the possible exception of Nirvana, who I think is an over-rated (though still decent) band, I like these bands.  But I seriously find it both humorous and sad that these COMPETING stations play such identical playlists all the time.  Where are the new bands coming out?  Where are the newer or different songs from bands we like?

I tell ya – THIS is what happens when only a few companies control most of the radio stations in the U.S.


One Response to “Why I Hate Local Radio

  • i don’t know why you’d consider yourself to be OCD, i mean this has to be the 5th spreadsheet comparing philly radio stations i’ve read this morning…

    just kidding, you’re a freak.

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