But there’s nothing, really nothing, to turn off. — Bob Dylan, “Visions of Johanna,” 1966
I turned on the car radio this morning and noticed the DJ on WXPN was yakking for a long time between songs. “Oh no, a funding drive!” I said. “Didn’t you just have one?” (Talking to the radio is a habit of mine, you got a problem with that?)
Adding insult to injury, the DJ offered free tickets to see Fleet Foxes to those who contributed a certain amount.
I yelled, “Wow, Fleet Foxes! How about Death Cab for Cutie tickets, too?”
The DJ didn’t answer. I hit the “off” button.
Three problems with so-called non-commercial XPN: 1) It frequently asks listeners for money even though it’s affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, an enormously wealthy institution that should be funding the station. 2) It has corporate “sponsors” whose names are often dropped in on-air spots. Shouldn’t the sponsors cover the station’s operating costs? 3) Its playlist often sucks. For every good song — by Beck or Cee-lo Green, say — they might play ten by the sort of tuneless angst-ridden twits who gave “alt” rock a bad name.
Does anyone still listen to radio? I live in a shotgun shack at the Tinicum swamp, so it’s hard for me to gauge this stuff.
Clarifications: XPN is a bit better on weekends than weekdays. And, through NPR, it runs a website called The Key, to showcase Philadelphia bands… And yes, public radio needs our money because government funding is way down. (“American Routes“, on WHYY, is worth a contribution, if you can afford it.)