“we’re run by a button marked ‘shuffle'”

And they say that like it’s a good thing.

So what’s happened to all the DJ’s? Or rather, where did all these internet-radio-station-in-a-boxes come from?

It’s not like it’s a completely wild concept these days with computers running stuff, but it was still odd and unsettling when one local station (WBOS) proudly announced on it’s commercials that they were getting rid of the DJ’s to play more music. It was like the best thing since having 2 stereo speakers instead of mono. I just can’t think what it must have been like for the voice talents recording those announcements, knowing that they were basically announcing the layoff of many local DJ’s with the commercials. I stopped listening to that station for quite a while in protest.

They’re quickly becoming overly slick in their setup and marketing. It’s amazing to see this many different radio stations being transformed into completely automated little boxes, including in-depth and integrated websites with concert listings, listener lines, request forms, etc. Hell, you can call in your request to these stations, and if your song gets picked (who knows how), the computer automatically plays your voice recording before playing your request. A bit different than the old days where a human answered the call and did a nice back-and-forth during the intro.

The thing that really gets me – and is the real reason I bothered to write this – is the over-the-topness of their marketing. Apparently the new trend is to spend marketing thought on station names – there are a whole bunch that don’t use call letters, just marketing names – and the marketing names are all people’s names. Trying to make you think that actual humans work at the station regularly. Yeah, right: the only people working there now are ad execs and sysadmins. Ugh. Cf. Ben-FM in Philly too – at least their call letters actually appear to be “WBEN”.

The really wierd thing is I can’t even figure out what the call letters are of 93.7 Mike-FM in Boston are anymore! I didn’t happen to hear them on the hour, and it’s certainly nowhere obvious on the website. And unless I missed some radical FCC changes lately, the official call letters are not “MIKE”.

Oh well. Not like all the DJ’s were worth listening too – but some of them were; heck, I used to listen to WKLB just because I like the DJ’s. I wonder what the larger impacts are on the DJ and voice talent market now that computerized audio is completely commercialized.

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