Serving Our Community, One Voice Track At A Time

All the snow we’ve been getting and our building’s power transformer blowing up the other night got me thinking again about how much commercial radio sucks these days. That might sound strange, but hear me out.

When something disruptive happens, something like…let’s say a snow storm or a power outage, what’s one of the first things people do? Do they run to their TV’s? Do they fire up the computer and do a search for “what the fuck just happened on my street?” Or do they bust out the little battery powered radio and tune in a local radio station looking for info and answers? I’m pretty confident that a lot of you are thinking radio, because radio is by far the best and quickest way to get a message to a lot of people as soon as they need to get it. Actually I should make that radio *was* the best way to get the word out, because radio, at least in its current form, is the drizzling shits at doing what was and will always be its job.

The reason for this is a simple one. Voice tracking. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll quickly explain it. Do you ever listen to a station and notice that things just don’t sound right? I’m talking about small things like the fact that nobody ever says the time or that the person reading the weather isn’t the same one doing the rest of the show. These things are clues that what you’re hearing isn’t actually live. Your radio station, on a never-ending quest to save a few bucks, has contracted somebody or gotten an existing employee to record an air shift in advance so that they don’t have to pay people to staff the station during what they consider off hours. Off hours can mean anything from evenings after about 6 or 7 PM to an entire weekend, meaning everything from Friday night until Monday morning.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the problem with this idea, but you do apparently need to be smarter than radio station management, who for the most part are somewhere between dog shit and a ham sandwich on the IQ scale. Emergencies don’t have off hours. They happen when they happen, and it’s the job of essential services like radio stations to provide as close to up to the second coverage as they can. It especially burns me up when I hear a station talking up its community involvement only to hear that same station leave the community in the lurch when it actually needs it for something more complicated than sending the Rockmobile to Wally’s Waterbed Wearhouse to broadcast live from the big Summer Blockbuster blowout Bonanza.

I don’t care how much it costs, there needs to be somebody live on the air at all times. It’s ridiculous that I could get no info Monday about what exactly happened to my power and when they planned to have it fixed, and it’s absolutely unacceptable that anybody who found themselves driving through Guelph today would have to get conditions from stations in another town or find
CFRU
and hope they’ve got live programming on. This morning they did, and it’s a good thing. It’s also pathetic in the sense that the one place that did the right thing was staffed by volunteers who could have easily stayed home for safety’s sake and been well within their rights to do so. The 2 corporate stations in town could learn a lot from this, but they won’t, and that’s a shame.

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