Because I am a freelancer, the rigors of my daily commute mostly consist of managing to get from my kitchen to my office down the hall without spilling any coffee. I rarely hit traffic, although my dog Riley sometimes accosts me with a toy.
Working out of the house also means I don’t have much occasion to listen to the radio, which is something I think most Americans only do while they’re in their cars, because otherwise the drive would get boring with nothing to do except texting and talking on their phones.
But one day recently I had to actually leave my house to go to the post office, and so I listened to New York’s Morning Zoo on Z100. Well, it used to be the Morning Zoo, but now it’s just called the Morning Show. It’s the same show, only without the cages, I guess. If you live in the New York metro area and you’re older than 15, you still think of it as the Elvis Duran and the Morning Zoo.
I believe every major city has a Morning Zoo these days, while smaller towns get by with a Morning Menagerie.
I’m kidding, because even smaller municipalities can have a Morning Zoo through syndication. In fact, they can have New York’s Morning Zoo. Even commuters in Missoula, Montana can listen to Elvis and his crew over local station 107.5FM while they drive to wherever people in Missoula go every day. I visited that station’s website and was shocked to learn that, not only do they call themselves “Zoo FM,” but they call their listening area “Zootown,” which means they’ve essentially based their entire existence on a New York radio show which isn’t even called “The Zoo” anymore, but they probably didn’t want to refer to Missoula as Morning Town. I hope there’s at least one person who actually works at 107.5FM to break in occasionally with local information so that their Missoulian listeners don’t go out dressed for New York weather.
Anyway, so there I am, driving to the post office listening to Greg T. the Frat Boy play Butt Bucks (don’t ask), when suddenly Elvis starts talking about the iHeart Radio app. The iHeart Radio app lets even the loneliest person in Wyoming, one of the few states that does not broadcast New York’s Morning Zoo, listen to New York’s Morning Zoo. Yes, that rancher who lives 30 miles from Cheyenne can listen to Danielle Manero’s hysterical phone pranks on his smart phone or tablet while he’s herding his sheep or milking his cows or whatever ranchers in Wyoming do in the morning. Except, thanks to iHeart Radio’s On Demand feature, Rancher Bob (as I’ve decided his name is) can listen to the Morning Zoo in the afternoon. He can have his own Afternoon Zoo!
But Rancher Bob doesn’t have to listen to some elitist New York radio show. He can hear radio stations from anywhere in the country. He can even hear stations from Mexico, at least until President Trump builds his wall. Or, if Rancher Bob is so inclined, he can program his own radio station just for himself, with only the artists he likes and with, I’m guessing, very little advertising revenue.
In Queens, NY in the early 60’s, there were basically three radio stations. If you were a kid, you listened to WABC or WMCA (“The Good Guys”), both of which were Top 40. As far as you knew, there were only 40 songs in the world at any given time, and Bruce Morrow–Cousin Brucie–would play them for you. If you were an adult who was, unfortunately, in charge of the AM car radio, you listened to WNEW, which played standards by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole, and made your kid very unpopular when he went to school absently humming “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
Later on, when you were old enough to drive, there were more choices. By then, your car probably had an AM/FM radio and you could listen to “album rock” which let DJs like Alison Steele (“The Nightbird”), play anything they wanted, although what they often wanted to play was “Stairway to Heaven.”
We didn’t have cassettes or CDs yet. We were only beginning to have 8-Track tapes. (For you younger readers, that was a cartridge about the size of an iPad Mini that you jammed into your car’s dashboard to play an album on a continuous loop. You’d have a box of these things on the floor of the passenger side of the car and it was your friend’s responsibility to be aware of when you had listened to a whole album and switch out cartridges before the last one started replaying. This friend was the early 70’s equivalent of iTunes shuffle.)
Decades later, they came out with satellite radio, which had all these micro-formats (“Just Bruce!”, “Just Disco!”, “Just Howard Stern!”). You could turn on “Classic Rewind,” for instance, and wonder why, when the programmer could choose from every rock and roll song ever recorded, the channel only seemed to have a playlist of 15 songs. (If you’re in your car for over two hours, you’ll hear at least one song a second time.)
So now there’s the iHeart Radio app, which is free, but they’ve started offering upsells for $4.95 and $9.95 a month. These give you additional options like being able to replay the song you just heard. When Elvis Duran was describing this feature, one of the crew excitedly added, “That is so great. A lot of times I’ll hear a song and want to listen to it again right away.”
Seriously? You work at an all-hits radio station. Any song you play will be repeated constantly all day long. You really can’t wait for the next time?
I know, I know. I’m way behind the times. I haven’t progressed past iTunes, and my wife and daughter had to drag me kicking and screaming to even get me that far. I have no interest in subscriptions, or streaming, or having music rain down on me from a cloud. And I do not want to drive to the post office while listening to “Alfa 91.3 FM, Más Variedad, Mucho Más Música México DF” on iHeart Radio.
The iHeart Radio website lists over 20 genres to choose from, including one station (under “Top 40 and Pop”) devoted to The Chainsmokers. I am cool and hip enough to know, in a vague sort of way, that The Chainsmokers is a current music-making entity of some sort, otherwise I would have thought that the station was for chainsmokers, broadcasting tunes to cough to. Well, I looked it up, and The Chainsmokers have released a grand total of three or four EPs. Not even full albums, but EPs. There’s even one where, for $5.99, you get six versions of the same song!
Call me crazy, but I don’t think their body of work qualifies them to have their own radio station.
See you soon.