Hi. We are Jeff and Paul. But sometimes we fight crime in our secret identities of “Captain Gravel” and his sidekick, “Fish Boy.”
Welcome to part 7 of our seemingly never-ending series, “The Decline and Fall of Basically Everything.” Our previous chapters examined the Richmond Marathon, the Martha Graham Dance Company, turnpikes, cancer and the evidence linking Style Weekly to Satan. This week’s installment is .... what’s that? You missed the last six? We submitted them, but we suppose they were “bumped” to make room for the STATE’s special editorial pull-out section last week on “Why Poor People Should Be Shot.” Oh, well.
If you have never heard the expression "A city is made in its airwaves," it is probably because it is one we just made up for the purposes of this column. However, were this an actual expression instead of an invention of what can only be described as “warped journalism,” it would serve as a great introduction to this column, which just happens to be about radio in the city of Richmond.
Recent changes have put Richmond’s music on the "cutting edge," bringing it to the "forefront" of the "musical scene," making it "fashionably late for dinner." While the changes can only be “positive” for the simple reason that the Richmond “radio scene” sucked “a lot” before the changes, it should be noted that, after the changes, radio in Richmond still “bites itself.”
Now, in studying the subtle nuances of radio in Richmond we must first discount all country music.. The reason for this can be summed up by the following remark by a noted music critic: "AIEEEEEEEE! OK I’ll talk! Please God, don’t make me listen to that!"
His thoughts can be understood better by analyzing the following lyrics from what is almost certainly an actual country music song:
Aaaah love mah truck/
And aaaaaah luv mah Maaaa/
But aaah jest found out/
Mah Maaa run off with maaaah dawg (chorus)
Moving along to what the hip kids these days call "rock 'n' roll,” we all know that the life of every radio-listening Richmonder changed when Redneck Rock giant 104.7 WSUX switched its format from its original country to its current 106.5 WVGO.
No, that's not right. 104.7, which now calls itself "The BUZZ" switched from its former country music format to its current “alternative” (“alternative” implying that it’s not your first choice) grunge music format. "Grunge" is a mysterious West Coast term that, for all we know, means "a light chicken gravy." You can tell that these “alternative” bands are very progressive and cutting-edge because they have an out-of-context verb or noun name like “Suck” or “Dogbowl” that was apparently chosen at random.
A typical lyric from one of these songs (True Fact!) by “Pearl Jam” seems to be, as best we can figure it out:
She dog lick fits sponge bone/
I bong the wink, scoop poke Nerf zone/
She slurp funk tick gourd (unintelligible)/
I gills wig snort, stink clambake drone (guitar solo)
Right now we should mention, for the benefit of those who disagree with us and are preparing to write nasty letters written in flaming dog-doo stuck to the STATE’s door with a knife, that Paul and Jeff’s music tastes are not “cool” to begin with. Paul still thinks that “They Might Be Giants” is neat, and Jeff is certifiably the only 22-year-old in the world who listens to “Gilbert and Sullivan.” So you can a.) like it, or b.) lump it.
In response to 104.7's maneuvering, WVGO 106.5 switched from its old alternative format to its new exactly-the-same but differently-named modern rock format. Also, WVGO retired (“fired like a cruise missile”) its old morning show hosts, Mike, Meg, Weav (short for “weevil?”), Bob, Yoda, and Ringo. They then picked up Howard Stern, who fills a longtime gap in Richmond radio, namely that there weren’t enough “penis” jokes.
Not to be lost in the shuffle, XL102 did not change its format, or even rename of its old format. Instead, they put up huge billboards saying “Don’t Fake It,” and pictures of what must be some woman being tortured by police after trying to use a fake ID. We applaud XL102’s stand on teenage civic responsibility.
Or ... wait a second. Oh, she’s supposed to be faking an orgasm. That makes sense, because radio ... orgasms ... um ... okay, we don’t know what the Hell that’s supposed to be about. If someone finds out, please write to us, care of this newspaper.
XL102 also plays some “Heavy Metal” music. It can be distinguished by its lyrics, which are something like this:
I am very angry about something!!!!!/
I am really very angry about something!!!!!/
My life is unpleasant, and I am angry about this!!!!!!!/
Now let’s all worship Satan. (guitar solo)
Or at least that’s what we heard.
Meanwhile, B103.7, which at any given point during the day, has up to four people listening to it, recently joined the radio battle by switching its motto from "The best of the 70s, 80s and 90s" to the harder edged, more direct, "All Phil Collins, All the Time." Its strategy also seems to be to play the theme song from the TV show "Friends" at least every three songs and sometimes up to twice per every song, and then again during commercials. 103.7's most direct competition, Lite 98.1, combatted the recent movement on the radio dial by switching its motto from its old “Like Lite beer, but worse” to its new "It's Like Never Leaving the Elevator."
In a refreshing display of either stubbornness or apathy, the new WLEE 96.5 seems to be going out of its way to discourage listeners from tuning in. The most striking evidence of this is their occasional use of the motto, (True Fact!) "Keeping the ‘70s alive.”
Our message: LET THEM DIE!
Apparently, someone in the WLEE advertising department thought it would be really great if everybody out there in Listener Land imagined that the 96.5 deejays all had big muttonchop facial hair and were wearing plaid bell-bottom pants and tight satin button-down shirts. This is cool enough. But then they actually have to play the music that people were listening to back then, which seems to have been nothing but “Steely Dan.”
At the far left end of the dial, we have the steering column. (Important note: There is only one actual functioning non-digital radio dial left in the country. So, unless you are actually in Jeff's car while you are reading this, you'll just have to imagine.) On the far "left," we have Q94.5. We should probably mention that we would listen to Q94 even if its entire music library consisted of old Menudo 8-Tracks for one simple reason: They keep saying they might call us and offer us $1,000.
Can you imagine? A thousand drachmas! We could super-size it every time! We'd be living the good life, baby!
Then there is “Power 93,” which, according to their commercials, “JAMZ!!!!” There are many people in the commercials dancing around and waving their fingers to demonstrate how happy this makes them. At the other end of the dial, there is NPR, National Public Radio, which has all the excitement of Public Television, plus it doesn’t have pictures. Paaaaarrrttyyyy! Lyrics for a typical NPR song go like this:
Dum dum da dee dum/
Dum da da da da/
Dum doop de doop doo/
Let’s all go worship Satan. (flute solo)
Well, not really. But it would be much cooler if it did.
At this point, we’ll open the discussion to questions from the audience.
Q: Do any of these stations play “The Beatles?”
Q: So, then, they all stink, right?
Perhaps we have been too harsh: these stations all have their good points. For example, B103.7 plays cool cheesy ‘80s stuff. WVGO is great to start your day with that first penis joke of the morning. XL102 must have a sense of humor, for broadcasting “KISS Unplugged” on Halloween. “The BUZZ” must be good for entertaining mutants and VCU students. Lite 98 keeps Michael Bolton off welfare.
Therefore, our scientifically-tested recommendation is to listen to whatever station offers to pay you the most money. God knows somebody should pay people for listening.