Written on 2/17/2005 02:39:00 pm by sikapitan

Last weekend, I drove my dad’s car, and unfortunately, there’s nothing in it even remotely resembling decent music, what with some monotone sounding bloke spewing out advices on how to release stress being the only CDs on board. I had to turn on the radio. See, I don’t listen to the radio, with the exceptional circumstances when I’m driving my mom/dad/family which means that the radio is on but almost non-existent (my parents don’t like noise, basically). So as I listened to the traffic report, I tried to remember when I stopped listening to the radio...

It must have been when I got a CD burner, and my first Sony single-disc head unit on my old Satria (I miss her). The explosion of Napster and other peer-to-peer file-sharing medium allowed me to download (albeit at speeds that now appears to be so pedestrian) any songs that I feel like listening to. At that time, my musical sphere wasn’t far from those covered by Hitz and basically my discs were more like one of those extended “7 hits in a row” (which ironically is always interrupted by ads- more on that later). I have no problem listening to the radio, but the ads are starting to irritate me to bits. Now, it was at that time I stayed in a hostel (for one memorable semester- Perindu perindu) and for hostel boys, radio IS their life. There’s nothing else for entertainment. It was them who introduced me to ERA and Malay music. There’s life beyond Fly Guy, Brandy and Monica.

I started to notice something seriously wrong with our stations when there’s no one in the room and I’m all alone listening to some DJ talking about something so inconsequential to music that I wonder if music really is the main point of these stations. Far from saying that I’m better than any of them, but it appears our radio station DJs are more celebrity-oriented rather than music-oriented. I am glad if I can be proven wrong, but I just hear a lack of purpose in their daily monologues. But the DJs are only the tip of the iceberg, what with endless commercials/infomercials filling up any available spare time. I understand the need for revenues, but if the stations just concentrate on playing music rather than organizing parties or sponsoring fashion shows or promoting their DJs we would be left with lesser overhead cost, which in turns mean less need for ads (but then everyone wants more money, so who’s to blame them for milking the cow?).

The music itself leaves much to be desired. Simply said, I cannot stand what’s being played on the radio. It’s not like I don’t listen to pop and ballads. I do. I kinda dig Britney’s generic yet infectious sound, or boybands ridiculously soapy ballad, or Ramones-wannabe punk act as much as every San Lee, Sarah and Saravanan in KL. I HAVE them on my play list. It’s just that I feel there’s no balance in our music education. We’ve been fed with all the top 40 hits, and even there we’re missing out on some good ones. What’s wrong with playing something off-field for a change, and why limit ourselves to the US top-40? What about the more eclectic and dance-influenced UK hits? I’m not asking for them to stop playing the Avril’s, Britney’s or Simple Plan’s of this world. All I want is them to maybe introduce more eclectic selections, and that doesn’t mean playing Pink Floyd or Groove Armada (if you’re into that kind of music). There’s a lot of good music out there, acts ready to burst into the limelight. It’s great that Malaysians are finally introduced to Franz Ferdinand, Keane and The Killers, but we only played them long after I deleted them from MY playlist. Maroon5 is now considered so commercial, but early last year when no one heard of them I was busy telling my mates how good they were. I mean, the stations should take the initiative to play songs BEFORE they become hits, so that we don’t sound like fool still bopping our heads to My Boo when Disco Inferno is already burning up the charts elsewhere.

So what’s good to listen to? I don’t speak for everyone, but Snow Patrol, Death Cab for Cutie, Jack Johnson, Kanye West (oh yeah, he’s so IN now-bla blab la), The Thrills and Jem are good bets to start downloading. It’s not sooo underground, and the music’s really accessible enough for the stations to play them more often. Red104.9 does it better than everyone else when it comes to music education. They’ve got segments introducing new music every day.

Oh, let’s not forget those endless chit-chats with callers that Malay radio programs like to do so much. If I do listen to the radio it would be one of those Malay stations, because it’s hard to download Malay/Indon/Asian songs online so I depend on them to keep me up to date. What I can’t stand is that the DJs really like to talk to their callers. Just try tuning in on a weekend afternoon and listen. Who cares if that guy is working late or if her new handbag was bought at a thrift shop? And’s Djs, please stop promoting yourself and thinking you’re celebrities. The Anugerah ERA is nothing more than an overzealous attempt by these losers to rub shoulders with real artists and act as if they’re really better than they are. You don’t see this phenomena going on anywhere else do you? Never have a radio station has such clout in society. dominates the Malay community in Malaysia.

Let’s get back to listening to the radio last weekend in the car. I’ve reached the Subang toll plaza, which took around 15 minutes, and I was still waiting for them to play a song. With the traffic report, advertisements, updates, contests and Astro promos, I guess they forgot the real reason we listen to the radio- music.

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