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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Embarking For The Melody Reunion

...and along the way, I'll be using my HD Radio to tune to Altrok 90.5 HD2...if you're at home reading this, why not check it out yourself?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Melody Reunion Status: GREEN

For those wondering what's happening with the Melody Reunion, all signs point to it happening as scheduled. Forecasts call for snow showers, but nothing debilitating, and we expect today's mess will be pretty well cleaned up by then.'s a GO. But keep checking here for updates; we'll let you know if anything changes.

(And while you're at it, have you tried listening to our new HD FM station? Any time's a good time, but now is always good.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's Official: Altrok 90.5 HD2 Is On The Air

At about 3:10 Eastern Time this afternoon, Altrok 90.5 HD2 went ON THE AIR, transmitting on a digital signal that piggybacks on 90.5 The Night's FM signal, all of which emanates from its tower in Lincroft, NJ.

Our first song, funnily enough: The Dream Syndicate's "Tell Me When It's Over". With that, Modern Rock returns to the Jersey Shore.

If you're not in range or haven't got an HD Radio, listen here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Altrok Without Wires - Our New (Web And Not-Web) Radio Station

For those peeking at us through aggregators, and RSS feeds, you might have missed the new decorations at the top of our pages. That's especially if you had given up on listening to us through Live365 for whatever reason (too hard to connect, too many commercials, etc.)

Those days of difficulty have come to an end. Drop by and check out the new iteration of Altrok Radio - you'll find it's surprisingly easy to connect to...and soon, it'll be even easier if you get your hands on an HD Radio.

For the sake of those who'd like a little sample, here's what we just played...

  • Underworld - Pearls Girl
  • Oingo Boingo - Only A Lad
  • Dave Dark & The Sharks - I've Resigned
  • Franz Ferdinand - A Song For 'Sorry Angel' (with Jane Birkin)
  • XTC - Ten Feet Tall
  • Brakes - sometimes always (with The Pipettes)
  • Arctic Monkeys - Cigarette Smoker Fiona [EFC]
  • Talking Heads - (Nothing But) Flowers
  • Love of Diagrams - Pace or the Patience
  • The Cute Lepers - Smart Accessories
  • Sparks - Music That You Can Dance To
  • Tom Robinson Band - 2-4-6-8 Motorway
  • The Prix - Shoot Out the Lights
  • The Answering Machine - Emergency
  • Midnight Oil - Best of Both Worlds
  • Tenpole Tudor - Wunderbar
  • Anemo - Fallout Renegade
  • Spoon - Written in Reverse
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Give It Away
  • Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Trouble
  • Dexys Midnight Runners - Jackie Wilson Said
  • Amanda Blank - Shame On Me
  • Miss Alex White And The Red Orchestra - Picture My Face
  • Modest Mouse - Dashboard
  • Harlem - Friendly Ghost
  • The Ocean Blue - Between Something and Nothing
  • Crash Radio - So What
  • Ramones - I Just Want to Have Something to Do
  • Vampire Weekend - Giving Up the Gun
  • The Transmissions - I'll Run It
  • U2 - Some Days Are Better Than Others
  • Hoodoo Gurus - Like Wow-Wipeout
  • Best Fwends - Adultnap
  • The Psychedelic Furs - Dumb Waiters

And there's a lot more where that came from, because we don't have to limit ourselves to 8-hour playlists any longer. More music whenever you tune in, and the longer you wait, the more you miss. Hop on board...just click the Preview link at the top of our page here at

Monday, February 22, 2010

DEVO On The Olympics Tonight?

What will be happening: DEVO playing at the medals plaza in Whistler, BC tonight.

What might be happening: NBC broadcasting it.

When? Mmm...around 10:20pm. Details will be updated at Club Devo.

...and after they perform, a new DEVO song, "Fresh", will be made available at Club Devo for 24 hours. Get it while it's hot.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More Melody Reunion Updates!

Hey kids,

The latest Melody Reunion update is that we now have the place until 1 am. So if we are rocking, they won't throw us out at midnight. So come early and stay late, or come a bit later and stay later, anyway you win!

Also, IF we were to have a snow situation, the makeup date is the FOLLOWING Saturday, March 6th. Let's hope that doesn't happen, but if it's going to be a blizzard we'll move it a week later. Stay tuned here and to the facebook page for any last minute updates, and I'll see you on the dance floor on the 27th!!


The 2010 Classic-Era Melody Reunion: Overflow/Afterparty Details

Some tips on weathering the 2010 Classic-Era Melody Reunion on February 27, 2010:

Remember, it starts early and peaks early. This is good - basically, this soiree is aligned to Manchester time (UK, not NJ) starting at 7pm and going to 1am. There'll be the customary nod to our hosts' formalities at 11pm, when the power officially dies for sixty seconds in deference to Elks who've passed to the great beyond, and then the party continues until the clock strikes midnight and our coaches turn into pumpkins. (And if your coach doesn't do that, read on.) Note that last year, this happened a bit earlier because WE DRANK THE ELKS' CLUB DRY. (They expect to provision a bit more of those libations for this year's event.)

Because it starts early - and I can't emphasize this enough - you need to get there early. Fire codes dictate a certain occupancy, and we meet that every year; when we do, that's when we really start to get picky about who gets in. Recognizable faces get recognized; others not so much. If you think you're recognizable, that's great, but if you demand to be recognized, the folks at the door may want to recognize someone else. Be cool, be courteous, be there early.

For some, 1am's about as late as they're prepared to stay out. For others, the night is young...and for those folks, the party will continue at the corner of Somerset and Easton...a.k.a. The Corner Tavern. Remember, that's CORNER. The Corner Tavern's also there for you earlier if you can't get in to the main reunion for whatever reason - if you're too young, or if you're tired of standing in the line you were too late to avoid. They're open 'til 2 AM.

Wherever you are, I'll see you there, and I'm sure another slew of vaguely disconcerting pictures will make it onto Facebook. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Does "Good Business Sense" Make Good Business Sense?

Radio is a business. Even non-commercial radio; a non-commercial radio station that doesn't make enough money to pay its bills soon becomes an ex-non-commercial station (or at least one that changes format to something that delights its listeners in a way more likely to convince them to support it.)

Let's focus on commercial radio here, though. Many in the central New Jersey area that Altrok calls home have lamented that not only has any radio station whose format came anywhere near daring disappeared, they've almost uniformly been replaced by hit radio outlets.

There's other formats on the dial to be sure, but there sure has been a lot of hue and cry from the folks that lost G-Rock last year and, unfortunately, all that energy has been focused on making the license holders, Press Communications, "pay" for their transgressions - boycotting their advertisers, protesting their live remotes, signing Internet petitions, etc.

To be sure, Press Communications committed a lot of transgressions over the course of their eight-year-long stewardship of the alternative station at 106.3 and 106.5 MHz, at least if it was their intention to actually run an alternative station. First they tried to run an Adult Contemporary station that called itself Alternative. Wrong. Then they tried to add classic rock to that mix and call it an Alternative station. Wrong. Then they hired an experienced Alternative programmer and made him run an Adult Contemporary station (and call it Alternative.) Wrong. By the time they got around to hiring people that actually knew how to program an Alternative station and actually let them run it *as* an Alternative station, Press had thrown seven years of good money after bad. Mitigating some of this, however, is the fact that FM106.3 itself, the pre-2000 precursor to the station's sale and the institution of the G106.3/G-Rock formats, had become a consultant-hamstrung shadow of its former self by the date of its sale to Press.

However, again, I must intone the mantra I began this article with:

Radio is a business.

The goal of this business, if you're a radio station owner, is to make as much money as possible. With an Alternative format running the way Press were running it, a failure to reach that goal should have been a foregone conclusion, but it took Press eight years to realize that they owned a station whose format they didn't stand behind. They didn't like the format, they didn't like the audience the format attracted, and no amount of focus group testing would change that. At some point, after spending eight years smacking themselves in the fingers repeatedly with a ball-peen hammer, pausing only on occasion to buy a shinier, slightly more expensive new ball-peen hammer, they decided to stop doing that.

They changed formats to Hit Radio.

Was I offended that they did so? Sure.

Were others? Sure, a couple hundred of 'em showed up on a cold January Saturday a week after the format flip to protest. Press dismissed that as pathetic, but in my book that was a sizeable fraction of a ratings point willing to take physical action to protest a format change...not war in Iraq, not homelessness or starvation, not abortion, anti-abortion or anti-anti-abortion. A format change. Say what you want, but these folks were committed.

Did I promote the cause of "bringing back G-Rock"? Hell yeah, even though I ostensibly run a competitor.

The fact is, however, that at that point Press Broadcasting's obligation to the community of Alternative Rock listeners ended. They were out of the Alternative business - even though it was always arguable whether they were actually in it, they were now officially out.

Press now runs a Hit Radio station. Which, in my objective estimation, they're doing admirably. Almost like they believe in it. Good for them - it's what they should have done in 2000 when they bought the station in the first place.

The problem is that Hit Radio, as it currently stands, will become obsolete faster than any other music radio format unless it establishes itself as the place you're likely to hear the next hits. If it concentrates on today's hits, it's already obsolete.

It's said that hit radio skews younger in listenership, and I believe that's true - many's the time I've heard Hit Radio defended as being what "these kids today are listening to".

I happen to be a parent of a couple of "these kids", and (probably to the chagrin of Hit Radio programmers) I get to hear them complain repeatedly about hearing a track on a Top 40 station "again". Since this is usually in the car, the complaint is usually followed by preset button pushing until they either hear something that isn't quite so burnt out, or they give up and turn off the radio.

The process is slower when their friends are in the car. Tracks don't burn out at the same rate for everyone, and they'll generally abide hearing something that's stale if someone else in the car still wants to hear it, unless the majority don't, and the odd person out concedes that, yeah, they should switch the station.

They stop when they hear something new that appeals to them, that isn't already on their iPod. At the same time, they're also clued in to the meaning of the word "derivative" - if it sounds exactly the same as the last hit from the same artist (or from some other artist) it gets dismissed.

The fact that they've got itchy preset button fingers, of course, means that they DO NOT tolerate advertising unless it's entertaining in and of itself.

"Where are they hearing these new songs that aren't so burnt out?" you might ask. Well, actually, the moment a song appears on the scene and starts transmitting virally across their friends' radar, they're more likely to pull it up on YouTube than to wait until it shows up on Hit Radio. Hit Radio's really only the most attractive option when they're in the car and out of Internet range.

So who's filling out the Arbitron diaries that result in the ratings that make hit radio so attractive? I'd suggest that, empirically, adults are absolutely listening to that - especially adult women - though the younger-skewing artists wear thin fast.

By "empirically", I mean "in my neighborhood filled with soccer/dance moms and sports dads". Since I'm the guy with the music collection, it generally falls to me to program the music, and of course (since I'm always asked for it) I've done a bit on my own to contribute to sales of hit music. And my programming tool of choice is actually iTunes.

Not only does iTunes make it easy for me to acquire new tracks mid-party, it also, through iTunes DJ, makes it easy to have a true jukebox environment, where more than one person has the ability to influence the mix, because everyone that has a iPhone or an iPod Touch can use Apple Remote to queue up requests, as long as they're connected to my WiFi cloud. (Every party - and there's one every Friday night somewhere in the neighborhood during the summer - usually makes iTunes about $5. Yes, it's a good neighborhood.)

[For the curious, between iTunes and the speakers, there's a C. Crane FM transmitter and a few cheap portable FM receivers scattered around the backyard. If you're within 100 feet of my house, you'll hear us on 103.9 MHz, but we haven't shown up in the ratings. Yet.]

Now then, I don't think that the entire assemblage wants to hear Hit Music (it's really actually a genre of its own now, isn't it?) In fact, some of the wags with access to the queuing system throw in some Pantera just to keep us on our toes, though I have to say my addition of La Roux's "Bulletproof" last summer got some traction. But the fact is that the wives in the neighborhood (who, empirically, generally don't have the iPhones) pressure the husbands (who - again, empirically - generally do have the iPhones) to queue up Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, Katy Perry and Pitbull when they're not queueing American Pie, The Time Warp and Paradise By The Dashboard Light.

(I keep threatening to make this a format, by the way. Yes, we embarrass the kids.)

To make a long story short (too late) I definitely think adults, especially adult women, are listening to Hit Radio tracks. Whether they listen to them on the radio, and whether that listenership is really enough to support SEVEN hit stations in the area is for the market to decide.

Oh, one more thing: Lady Gaga is a genius. I say that without reservation or equivocation.

None of this has anything to do with the popularity of hit radio from a programming perspective. Hit radio is simply an easier thing to sell to advertisers, full stop, and it will continue to be easier to sell until the advertisers get wise that their perception of hit radio's popularity isn't backed up by the numbers for the station they're able to afford to advertise on. Whether that means they stop radio buys altogether or they realize they need to support a different paradigm is difficult to say - I suspect the former.

Radio is a business. The current conventional wisdom for the running of that business dictates that your station's format must appeal to the largest number of people by playing the most popular music. Audience cultivation is not a priority - only audience reach. You need to get as big an audience as you can now; it's not cost-effective to attract a more committed listener.

But committed listeners stay committed. Causal listeners push buttons and disappear.

I see a better future for non-commercial stations that cater to their audience.

With any amount of luck, I'll soon be running one, so we'll see.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Two Weeks Until the 4th Annual Melody Bar Reunion

Time flies. What was once months away is now right around the corner. The 4th Annual Melody Bar Reunion is February 27th at the Elk's Club in New Brunswick starting at 7 pm. Barring another crazy blizzard, it should be another glorious evening of revisiting, reliving and rejoicing a magical time in our lives, the many evenings spent at the Melody.

There will be dancing and drinking and all sorts of fun as we listen to the greatest music of the past. All the great DJ's, and yes Matt WILL be there.

This year we've managed to round up a few more lost Melody souls who will be making their first appearance, and I'm sure they will experience what we all did the first time we attended. A big smile and maybe even a tear or two.

As for the Elk's, well we drank them dry last year, so they will be much more prepared for us this time. We also stuffed their register for their charities, and I know we'll do the same this time.

We still need to try and get Cal and Steve to attend. Someone please track them down and let them know they should see what legacy their little club on French street has produced.

And we also need to get Tito Class to show up. He's in north Carolina last time I spoke with him. He shouldn't miss this either. Somebody please call him and get him here.

As usual, both the Hyatt and the Heldrich hotels are right near by our event and are ready to welcome hordes of Melodyites who would be best advised to end the night safely in a warm hotel room they can walk to, especially if they happen to be one of those who help drink the Elk's dry again. And don't forget the after party, which I was told was happening, but the details escape me. Check back here and on the facebook page, I'm sure the information will appear shortly.

Remember, our private event is 38 and up, with Big John the gatekeeper to paradise. We do not want the event overrun with non-Melody types, as occurred a bit too much last year. All are welcome to bring a spouse/partner as always. Bottom line is if you were a Melody regular anytime up to 1992, you'll get in right away, no waiting. There will be a line for "the others", and John will use his good judgement as to who among them gets in and when. If you are a regular and for some reason have a problem, just stay cool and we'll get you in. We all know who we are.

Final point, we are charging everyone one dollar at the door. This is to compensate Ed Wong who once again has graciously offered us the use of his great sound equipment, which without we'd have no party. And also to thank Big John who will be keeping a careful eye on the door for us making sure our private party stays private.

Anyway, that's all I have to say. I look forward to seeing you all and having a lot of fun again like we did a long time ago.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Get Yer HD Radios Cheap...

Stuff to know:

The FCC just approved a 10x power increase for digital FM stations. That means if you weren't able to get HD Radio, you may be able to soon.

By the way, those HD Radios that were getting cheaper and cheaper just got cheaper again...
I found that I was able to receive Asbury Park-based Shore Alternative on WJLK 94.3 HD2 over most of my own Freehold-to-Middletown, NJ commute reliably, with spottiness occurring over the farthest five miles out. The power increase should fill that in a bit.

And if you're on the northern side of that part of the map, a little bird keeps telling me to mention there might be another frequency to hear good modern rock on...soon...

Friday, February 05, 2010

Rockin' Brunswick (1983)

If you've ever wondered what I was going on about whenever I've waxed poetic about the New Brunswick scene of the early eighties, the Rosetta Stone has just been unearthed. I knew about this documentary back when it had a premiere showing at Rutgers, and was wondering how long the folks that had a copy would wait before posting it...

The wait is over - here's Rockin' Brunswick.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Now There's Even An App For Altrok Radio

...and, unlike certain other iPhone apps we've featured here, the brand-spankin' new Altrok Radio iPhone app has a lot going for it:
  • It's free.
  • It's also commercial-free.
  • It's your first sneak preview of what can best be called "Altrok Radio 2.0"
  • It's a 24-hour format, rather than a daily playlist. What can I say, some folks like to listen for more than eight hours.
When you listen, here's what you'll hear...

Our top current artists:
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Los Campesinos!
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Hot Chip
  • The Futureheads
  • Phoenix
  • Echo & The Bunnymen
  • New Young Pony Club
  • The Answering Machine
  • The Temper Trap
  • Gordon Gano & The Ryans
  • Good Shoes
  • Ladyhawke
  • Twang, The
  • Local Natives
  • The Joy Formidable
  • Drums, The
  • O Children
Our Top Nineties Artists:
  • Beck
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Green Day
  • Garbage
  • Sonic Youth
  • Weezer
  • Cake
  • The Pixies
  • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Our Top Classic Artists:
  • Elvis Costello
  • The Ramones
  • David Bowie
  • The Clash
  • The Sound
  • The B-52's
  • The Smiths
  • R.E.M.
  • Talking Heads
  • Violent Femmes
  • Thomas Dolby
  • The Fall
  • Julian Cope
  • Dinosaur Jr.
  • David Sylvian
  • They Might Be Giants
  • The dB's
  • The Icicle Works
  • The Hoodoo Gurus
  • Sinead O'Connor
  • T. Rex
  • The Waterboys
  • Ultravox
  • The Chameleons
  • The Church
(Funny, there should be way more Dramarama in there...)

Oh, and one more thing:
  • The Altrok Radio iPhone app (yes, it works on iPod Touch too) provides a BIG clue as to what's happening next for Altrok Radio. (And yes, it's quite a good thing.)
Because of that last point, don't ask what's happening - want an answer? There's an app for that. (Yeah, I had to say it.)

Search the iTunes App Store for "Altrok Radio" - you may be very glad you did.
Please Look At Our Advertisers (Or The Website Gets It)
Congratulations, you've found the hidden text.
Welcome to, also available at and Here's where the remaining listeners of several fine radio stations have retreated, regrouped, and built a replacement strong enough to stand on its own. It builds on the independent legacy of New Jersey's FM106.3, New York's WPIX and WLIR, Oklahoma's 105.3 The Spy, the pre-buyout mindset of KROQ, WBCN and WHFS and of every other alternative station that was destroyed at a moment's notice - not because they weren't making money, but because there was bigger money to be found elsewhere.
We've stood by as truly independent alternative rock radio died. Sure, something called "alternative" took its place, but we know for sure that anything that "tests well" with soccer moms just ain't alternative. (Even if some of us happen to be soccer moms.) So we've taken matters into our own hands.
This really is independent alternative rock radio, visible here at and audible at our web radio station. It has the classic music that fired our passions back in the day - or that we maybe only heard about from our elders - but it's mostly made of the new music that does precisely the same for us now. We're paying attention to scenes all over the world, watching the energy build, and waiting to see what it creates. Wherever it happens, we'll make sure you can hear about it here. We've been slowly building all this since 2001, and now that you've noticed us, we're glad you're here.
Of course, it's only here because you want it to be here, and it can only stay if you help it along - especially by checking out our advertisers (they support us) and by listening (the more that listen, the more visible we are.) Please use the "feedback" link above to let us know whether it works for you, and what you want it to be as the future unfolds. (And if you need help hearing it, let us know that, too.)