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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Much Better Than Nothing

Well kids, it's been awhile since I wrote something for Altrok, being very busy doing nothing at all, except looking for a job and interfering with my capable wife's handling of our two boys.

Having found work, I can now concentrate on writing articles about music again. Why I couldn't find the time or motivation to write anything with all day to burn is ridiculous. Why I now have the motivation and enthusiasm to write when fully employed is equally odd.

In any case, my new job comes with a nice perk. It is essentially mandatory that the radio be played loudly all day everyday. My new boss always has it cranked in his office, and we out in the bull pen do so also. It really helps make the day go by with music on.

Typically we have some XM satellite station tuned, such as Ethyl, Fred or Lucy, one of three major alternative music channels, or one of the ordinary top 40 type stations. Some are better than others.

I must confess that after a few years of sampling satellite radio, I don't find it as enjoyable as regular radio. Aside from the choices of music offered which are excellent, there's just something sterile about it. Satellite radio lacks the warmth, the humanness of regular radio. I can listen to it for a short while, but it doesn't hold me. And in most cases I'm just too cheap to pay for something that I can get for free.

I prefer radio-over-the-internet. There are thousands of web casts to listen to, and these include terrestrial radio stations as well. So if you can't receive your favorite radio station over the air, chances are they are streaming on the web. And these days most computers, especially the brand new one you just got at your new job are fully loaded with all the correct software that allows you to play radio stations right at your desk. Of course you should all be listening to the Altrok stream most of the time, so as to keep Sean in the opulent lifestyle he has become accustomed to.

So the other day, as the satellite radio was blasting out the same top 40 hits that are available for free on the majority of over the air stations, I suggested to my office mates that we listen to an old favorite station of mine for a change of atmosphere. I went to the G106.3 website and clicked on the button to start their web cast. The next moment we were bathed in the sounds of the Smiths, and I realized my new job was likely to work out pretty well. It wasn't long before my younger, easily influenced coworkers decided that they really liked the station. They sat in rapt wonderment as I told them the whole history of the station, and then topped it off by showing them Pinfield's name in my cell phone. They were under my complete control from that moment on.

Since moving to Hopewell, I haven't had too many opportunities to listen to G106.3. Everywhere I go I seem to be just outside their signal range, and it's not worth listening to through a wall of static. But when I have had the chance to listen, I have to say I've been pretty impressed. Since the station was sold in 2000, they've gone from trying to be a sort of adult alternative (bad top 40) to what they are now. It seems at some point they realized that they had a ready made audience for a more authentic alternative station, and if they just moved back to what made the station so respected back in the day, they'd likely do OK.

Having listened to the station for several weeks now, I have to say they are just about the best radio station in the Jersey area. They play a wide variety of new alternative bands that don't get picked up by top 40, such as the Bravery, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs, and they mix in a significant percentage of the old stuff too. There's no other station that's going to play the Pixies or the Smiths, Dramarama, New Order or any of the bands from the late eighties and early nineties. Kudos to the music director who finally understood how many people from the old days would tune in just to hear the occasional classic. You can count me as one of those, but I like a lot of the new stuff too. And we all have money to spend, get it?

Now don't get me wrong, they are still only somewhat as good as the original, but that's pretty damn good when you consider what they became for awhile after the sale, and compared to the rest of the radio dial. In fact they are fairly profitable, and have the kind of ratings that the old WHTG was always hoping to get.

Ultimately, it's great how much choice we have when it comes to listening to music as compared to even just ten years ago. For me, a warm, live, local station that plays pretty much what I want is my preference. And it's free, did I mention that?


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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.)