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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let's Talk About You. What Have You Done For Us Lately?

Alternative Radio is dying. It died a while ago, but had a zombie resurrection of sorts a few years back, but the moment its cheeks started achieving some semblance of "rosy", the economy drove a stake through its heart.

So why is that? You're an alternative rock fan (we suppose - either that, or you like reading blogs that have no earthly connection to the life you lead...which is a possibility, we suppose, but we really do suspect you like alternative radio.) You've seen station after station slip away, and might even have mustered up some concern when the lamest and most watered-down of "alternative" stations finally (that's New York's K-Rock) went Top-40.

But the question is this:

What are you doing to keep it alive? Actively? Right now?

The scanario that keeps playing out is:
  • Listeners like station.
  • Station goes away.
  • Listeners powerlessly rail against the powers that be for robbing them of their favorite station, but sooner or later get on with their lives.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.
But wouldn't it be better, dear listener, if you took the time - while the station was still alive - to do all the things that you can to help the station stay alive? There's still some alternative stations struggling to make their way in the universe...

I'll give you an example, and a recent disappointment: Altrok Radio. Thousands of people checked out this site during the run-up to the Melody Bar Reunion, which is reasonable - it's likely that tens of thousands made The Melody Bar their erstwhile home during its long run from 1982 to 2000, and hundreds actually got out and went to the reunion itself. (By the way, we're pretty sure Matt's still on his way.)

But afterwards? Pfft. Everyone went away.

Apparently, people who went to the Melody to fill a gap in their lives, musically speaking, got that gap filled already and don't need it filled anymore. Which is all well and good - that's what the Melody did for me, but I might be in the minority, and a lack of listeners doesn't make it any easier to keep Altrok Radio afloat.

Let me explain how Altrok Radio stays afloat: it stays afloat when I can be cajoled into thinking there's enough people out there that think it's worth a damn.

Unfortunately, with very few exceptions, the only people who I stumble over in significant numbers these days are the people who have bands to promote - and they really don't care what I'm playing, as long as I start playing them (and even then I don't ever see my numbers go up because of it. Here's a handy tip for promoters: I can generally tell when you're posing as a fan of a band I never heard of. And when you do that sort of thing using the shout-out box on our station page at Live365, it makes me really want to not ever bother finding anything more about you. I've got links for that - don't use the shout-out box, m'kay? I'm seriously considering starting a Top 40 station just to verify that you're not paying attention to the music I'm playing. Anyway, I have to deal with that a lot, and it clogs up the flow of goodwill that actually serves as the station's life blood.

If listenership numbers went through the roof? That would probably amplify that aforementioned flow of goodwill...but it's not happening.

I've got some money, and some time, to devote to doing this stuff, partly because I'm geeky enough to put this much work into programming my own listening, so why not make it available to other people? But that's something I'd do for myself only for a certain amount of time, until some other shiny object caught my attention. To keep it going for as long as I have - and to keep it going further - requires a level of focus and dedication that occasionally gives way to other things that may require some attention (you know, family, home, job, stuff like that.)

But then I notice things about my listenership that confuse me. There's some folks down in Texas, for instance, that really like the station - more than there are in New Jersey, in fact. That's weird (though not unwelcome) but I wonder what I'm doing that's so right for Texas, but so wrong for anywhere else.

I guess what it comes down to is that I know there's so much more I could do to make the station better than it is now, but every time I've tried to do anything to push the station more, it doesn't why bother? Why not just keep doing the same thing all the time? (It seems to work for Top-40...) Does anyone in the US, in numbers big enough to justify the outlay, care about finding alternative rock that's new and exciting?

I'm running out of options, but one that comes to mind is you. I hope you're somewhere where there's other folks who like what you like - for the sake of your sanity, at any rate. If not that, hopefully you've found other kindred souls online whose taste in music parallels yours.

What I want you to do is tell people we're here - because, basically, I've run out of ideas on how best to do that, and I'm hoping that, maybe, you have some.

Let me know. And tune in, please. There's a new playlist today. There's one every day, generally speaking.

Do what you can.


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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.)