Posts Tagged ‘radio’

18th August
written by Jeff

While I do maintain my blog, Broken Record, over at and have posted there on this subject, I thought I might put some of my personal feelings on my own blog. Honestly, I’m somewhat torn and I’ll try to cover the angles here as best I can.

First, it should be said that I really never cared for the programming on KTRU. To say that most of their programming was extreme would be a considerable understatement. Pitchfork Media, the purveyors of all that is cool in alternative and underground music, would check their playlist and think, “Wow, dude, that’s freaking weird.” I have honestly tuned in to KTRU in the middle of the day and heard guitar feedback for 3 minutes.

Having said that, I understand and appreciate the contribution KTRU has made to the community, particularly for local musicians. While its narrowly focused demographic didn’t make room for most local artists on the airwaves, KTRU did play local music and the new station, I’m fairly sure we can safely assume, will not leaving only KPFT’s limited music programming and KACC’s weak transmitter to fill the void.

Additionally, consolidating one of Houston’s four major players in the independent radio market can’t be good for consumers on the whole.

On the other hand, I am a fan of NPR. For too long, Houston has missed out on its in-depth programming and news. I am hopeful that vibrant music shows like World Cafe and great news programming like This American Life and Fresh Air will have their place in the new format for KUHF. If we don’t get World Cafe, I’ll admit that I will be sorely disappointed.

Being the fourth largest city in America means we should have good choices for news. Since KTRH left its news programming in the dust in favor of conservative talk shows, it will be nice to have a station that covers news for most the day, particularly one featuring NPR.

What has been interesting for me to watch since this news hit the internet is the disdain from those who consider KTRU “vital to the community” or should I say, more vital than classical music. There is this sense that, somehow, what KTRU provided in programming is so important it cannot be simply lost in this way.

As one of the commenters on Broken Record pointed out to me, most kids don’t listen to radio anyway. That fact really cannot be underscored enough in this situation. I cannot imagine that KTRU’s listenership demographic skews on the old or technologically feeble side. My guess is that many of them would be more than happy to continue to listen to KTRU online.

And this notion that classical music is so much more mainstream than the alt that KTRU provided is just preposterous. There have been a few instances of classical music stations trying to survive in Houston and they have all failed. Much like the alternative music of KTRU, classical and fine arts programming is a tough sell and very much a niche market. But, more importantly, classical music fans do tend to be in the older and less tech savvy demographic, making them far more likely to tune in to a radio station than seek it out online.

Bottom line is that I’m sorry to see a true college radio station go. I’ve long wondered why Houston didn’t have a legitimate college station with alternative and more mainstream programming. Even with KTRU’s broadly eclectic palette, it still served a purpose and I hate to see it turn to static. Some of that disappointment will, fortunately, be tempered by access to a full-time NPR station, something our city has needed for years.

It would have been easier for many of us had KUHF just bought a defunct station or some commercial radio station that programs the same 50 songs ever day. But, if this is what it takes, I guess that’s just how it goes.

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19th March
written by Jeff

Every Thursday, I post about the things that I love, and God only knows what those things might be.

Milo HamiltonNo, this isn’t some tribute to an odd indie band – maybe I have that wrong. And this isn’t about my love for baseball because I’m not really a big fan. This is about the soothing sounds of baseball on the radio.

Before you think I’ve retired and moved to Boca, let me explain.

Some days (or nights), I don’t want to listen to music. I hear it a lot. But, if I’m driving, I don’t just want silence either. That leaves me with conservative talk radio or sports. Being liberal (yeah, a commie pinko!) and a sports fan means I always choose the latter. Mindless talking heads yammering on about trades and random crap is pretty boring, but baseball isn’t.

To me, football and basketball are sports for watching – in person or on television. Golf is for tv viewing while napping on Sunday (everyone knows this). NASCAR is for being drunk and having sex with sheep. I think they shipped the NHL back to Canada or Russia or some country where it snows like 350 days a year. So, that leaves baseball.

On tv, baseball is damn boring. If I go to a game, I just want to eat a hot dog and eyeball the hot girls in the stands. What? At least I’m honest (and pervy – you know you love it, sicko)!

Few things, however, are more enjoyable and relaxing than a play-by-play announcer (like the Astros hall-of-famer, Milo Hamilton, pictured above) and his jovial color commentator. When I was a younger, I thought a “color” commentator was a derogatory term for Joe Morgan. Then, I realized that I’m retarded and that these are actually the guys that chime in with comments, scores, etc.

What’s great about this time-honored combo is the random banter they have throughout a game. In football and basketball, the action is usually too complex or fast paced to spend much time talking about anything other than the game. But, with the time between pitches, time between batters, ball scratching and arguments with the umpire, there is more than enough time to jabber incessantly about pretty much anything.

I remember reading that Chris Berman from ESPN once used every line from the song “Hotel California” to describe a game he was calling. I’m not sure if this is true, but I can totally see it. “I think they pink champagne’s on ice. I mean, they’re just prisoners of their own device out there.”

The best part of this interplay is the way the announcers intersperse comments and announcements with the actual game call. They sound something like this:

Announcer: One ball and two strikes to Lopez.
Color: You know, I never get tired of the hot dogs here at Minute Maid.
Announcer: That is quality ballpark food to be sure…that’s outside for ball two.
Color: I had a loaded chili dog earlier and it was mighty tasty.
Announcer: [pause – crowd murmur in the background]
Announcer: Is that what I smell? Foul tap down the right side.
Color: [chuckle]
Announcer: The Kiwanis Club of Kingwood is in the stands…WHOA! Look out. Somebody got a souvenir on that foul ball.
Color: And a concussion…
Announcer: Hopefully, the Kiwanis Club isn’t in section 103 today.

I absolutely LOVE that stuff. It’s even more exaggerated at spring training games where only a few hundred people show up and they’re in some little town like Alligator Mom, Florida or Desert’s Asshole, Arizona. You can hear fans yelling stuff from the stands and there is rarely a seven-second delay so the announcers just have to cover for it.

It’s relaxing. It’s funny and, let’s face it, it’s good, clean all American fun if that includes steroids and sex with strippers, and you KNOW it does.

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