Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jack Torse

Here in New York, there's a new radio station that plays music in the "iPod"-style format. It's called Jack-FM. ("Playing what we want.) I know from going to Boston that they've got "Mike-FM," which is the same deal. So, unlike the Geico salesman, I did a little research, and here's what I found:

Jack-FM is everywhere. It's in over 25 markets in the U.S. and Canada. (Mike-FM appears to be independent, as is one I found called Doug-FM. There's also a Bob-FM, which is also huge, and can be found in England and Canada.) And not only can it be heard all over the place, but it's the SAME everywhere. You can go to their website and see what's on the air right now. And it's the same for each Jack.

What's the deal with this? It seems so 1984 to me. I mean, I guess an iPod is a good idea, even though I don't have one, but why would I want to listen to one that was loaded and programmed by someone else? And is played exactly the same to everyone in the country. It seems like the all-time champion of "eating what's fed to you."

Isn't the point of radio for different types of music to be played on different stations, therefore giving US the power to choose what we want to hear?

But here's why it works: We're all lazy. I admit, when Chan and I play Scrabble, we put on Jack, and it seems like I like almost every song. But that's only because they play so much 80's stuff. If it was an iPod playing today's crappy P Diddy hits, I'm sure I'd never listen.

And radio stations are just as lazy. All they have to do is flip a switch, and boom, they're a "Jack." No more DJs to pay, no more work to do at all. I imagine some guys in black suits going around to radio stations, with just a clipboard and a pen. They hold them out to the station owner, and like Nan Adams in the Hitchhiker episode of The Twilight Zone calmly deciding to go along with the Grim Reaper, they sign away any soul they had left.

Also, why is the "Jack" in the logo wearing a crown? Don't they know it's the king who wears the crown? The jack wears the universally-loved jester hat. Why take that out of the equation? We need more jester hats and less crowns in this world, anyway.

Then, of course, there's the fact that all these stations have male names. (Unless you count "Aunt Jack" from Mrs. Doubtfire.) Terrible job. I tried searching for "Lisa-FM" and "Jane-FM," but found nothing. Then again, I don't really know the popular female names of the day. (Oh my god, I sound like Alice when she and Mrs. Brady went through Greg's "annual" and she wondered where all the "Mary"s went.) (And I guess another thing that shows my age is the Brady Bunch reference itself.)

So, my conclusion on the iPod radio revolution?

Terrible job.

But kinda good sometimes.

But not really.

Wake against "DUH-nuh-nuh, duh-nuh-nuh, DUH-nuh-nuh, duh-nuh-nuh" tonight.

This was a test. The jack doesn't wear the jester hat, the joker does. None of you noticed. (In other words, I messed up. I also called Adelaide "Mrs. Adelaide" one time. Must have been thinking of Mrs. Garret. Terrible job, me.)

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Location: Rhode Island, United States