So... word on the
interwebnets has it this one radio station is back from the dead...
again. --- Which is complete news to some of us since most wrote
97.5 The Blaze off long ago as a KBER wannabe and haven't payed much
attention to it. Kinda like a campfire burning through the night until it smoldered itself out while you slept. Hell, they could have been a country station at some
point over the past few years and we wouldn't have noticed. But you
can't blame the people behind it. ...Well not fully. Its not
Millcreek's fault that their highest rated station is U92, and by
default gets the most attention and promotion from within. And let's
be honest, does anyone beyond the DMV and businesses looking to fill that ambient silence with something other than Muzak actually tune into The Mix? But
we're getting off track here.
Proverbially sticking another log on the fire, the big thing that caught listener attention last week was the supposed “breakdown” and “arrest” of “Big Rog” Orton, their "imfamous" morning DJ... as of last week. Those who tuned into the show were apparently greeted by Big Rog getting “fed up” with the status quo of the station and its management, and “locked himself in the studio” so he could go on a tirade. Prompting management to call the “police” and in turn be arrested on the air. (He should have taken a cue from “Radio From Hell” and gotten a disclaimer against management. Then he wouldn't have had to “lock the door”... that has no lock on it.) We would have given this radio stunt more press the day of, had we not realized about ten seconds in that it was a radio stunt. Two big factors to keep in mind: First off, there are contingencies in place for talent who choose to take the station off the rails, ranging anywhere from taking over the playlist computer by remote, to going into main engineering and killing the audio. The fact that he lasted more than sixty seconds was proof enough. Second, cops aren't called in to take down a DJ. The switch is killed, you're fired, escorted out, and the FCC yells at you from afar while the station gets fined if you broke any of their rules. And after watching the video of the “arrest” and reading the public statement Rog was “allowed to post” on their website afterward... it makes you question the intelligence of anyone who believed it to begin with. (Incidentally, who fuckin' called them up and asked to replace Metallica with Fleetwood Mac? No one, because they don't answer request lines. That was a business decision with blame passed onto fake listeners.)
With all that said, violent and subtle jabbing aside, the entire point to this was to get word out of their format change. To let fans of old know that their favorite station has returned and is ready to rock you senseless until your skull caves in from the awesomeness and shoots blood-drenched confetti from the remaining neckhole. They even have this quote on their website from a statement about their format change: “There was a reason we changed in the first place... poor ratings, poor sales. We need your support!” You have to admire their effort and you can't fault them for being honest. ...But you can fault them for being unoriginal. Speaking to any management who may be reading, who I'm sure will take it all with a shaker of salt... Knowing your current situation and need for change, why would you change formats to one that already isn't working for two other stations? I personally listened for three hours on Friday and Sunday, and there's absolutely nothing that separates you from 104.7 The Point or 94.9 ZRock. Well, I take that back, your commercial breaks are only 4:15 minutes long, and not the standard 4:50. ...Kudos to you? But it sounds no different than taking all my music from the 90's and clicking shuffle on the iPod. How could anyone willingly "give the Rock Horns" to something that clearly sucks so badly?
There's a piece of Rog's statement that rings true on too many levels: “Look we’re not curing cancer or anything here. It’s just a stupid radio station. But it used to be a hell of a lot cooler.” When the Blaze first came about it sounded like it was striving to sound different, both in talent and in selection. Nothing drastic but just a tad off the norm to be recognizable with some local material thrown in. But now its as bland and generic as the others, with this "morning zoo" stunt cheapening the impact. And rather than go down a list of suggestions for them as others would love to do, I'll simply leave it at this... There's an abundance of indie rock and localized rock that would only take a couple hours to get a hold of and stick on air. And if you look around the U.S. at other rock stations claiming to make an effort, that's the new dividing line between “original” and “generic”. ...Eventually, they'll show listeners which one they truly are.