Sunday, July 25, 2004

Radio Daze

Like most Americans, I grew up listening to the radio. I have no idea what the first radio station I ever heard was, although chances are it was KWIX, the AM station in Moberly. Now KWIX is an all talk station, although it wasn't always that way. When I was growing up, KWIX played elevator music for most of the day. At night they had the "Big Beat" programme, when they played rock and pop music. Needless to say, I didn't listen to KWIX much during the day, although I did listen to it a good deal when the Big Beat programme came on at 7 PM CST.

The station to which I listened the most when I was growing up was KFMZ-FM in Columbia, MO. I am not sure when KFMZ opened. I am guessing that it was somewhere around 1970. KFMZ was the rock station in the area. It was on this station that I heard my first Queen song, my first Cheap Trick song, my first Electric Light Orchestra song.... It may well have been where I first heard Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, for all I know. Unfortunately, as far as I know, KFMZ no longer exists. The FCC has a right to revoke a station's licence if it finds that its owner has a poor moral character. KFMZ's owner had been convicted of sexually assaulting children. As a result, KFMZ's licence, and those of stations he owned in Osage Beach, MO and Terra Haute, IN, were revoked. Personally, I have always thought this was a bit unfair. While I do not think someone who has been convicted of sexually assaulting a child should be allowed to operate a radio station, I also think that revoking that station's licence effectively punishes both the station's employees and the station's listeners for a crime they did not commit. I think it would have been better if somehow he could have been forced to sell the stations and then the money from the sale had been donated to charity. Unfortunately, I don't think that is the way the law works.

When the FCC shut down KFMZ, it left a bit of hole where rock stations are concerned in mid-Missouri. There is KZBK from out of Brookfield, MO. I listen to KZBK a good deal. They play "Today's Best Hits," which basically translates to a variety of rock and pop songs. On any given afternoon, one might hear Matchbox 20, The Rolling Stones, No Doubt, and Sheryl Crow all played on KZBK. The downside of KZBK's playlist is that I don't think I have heard any heavy metal ever played on the station. For heavy metal, one must turn to KCMQ. I also listen to KCMQ a good deal. KCMQ calls itself the "Rock Station" and the name is fairly accurate. KCMQ plays a mixture of hard rock and heavy metal. On any given afternoon, one might hear Metallica, Z. Z. Topp, Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin on KCMQ. The downside of KCMQ is that it seems to me that they tend to play older material more so than newer material. While one might hear classic Megadeath on KCMQ, one might not hear the latest song from, say, Matchbox Twenty. The other rock station in Columbia is KBXR. KBXR's slogan is "Columbia's Quality Rock!" From my point of view, I am not sure that slogan is entirely true. It seems to me that they play a lot of what I call "Yuppie Rock." That is, one will hear a lot of Bare Naked Ladies and Blues Traveller on KBXR, but not much of Metallica or even Fountains of Wayne.

None of these stations entirely take the place of KFMZ. I suppose if one crossed the playlist of KZBK and KCMQ, one might well have a close facsimile of what KFMZ once was. Still, both stations are farily good ones in my opinion. And I suppose the alternative is much worse. There are areas in the U. S. where there are no rock stations!

I don't know if kids today listen to the radio much any more. Radio has so much more competition these days, from music on the internet to cable television. As an old timer, though, I have pleasant memories of listening to the radio growing up.

1 comment:

Rev dan ross said...

KFMZ cuold be heard in the Fulton area late night they wuld play hole albums what a treet not heard of today it's said to hear abuot the owner being a pervert more about that format not taking off all around kfmz we dont talk much