Focusing On The Music At The Expense Of The Listener. Welcome To Radio

I’ve known about 101.9 Dawg FM since it launched a few years ago, but for one reason or another I’d never tuned in to check it out until yesterday even though the idea of a full-time blues station sounded like one of the best things in the world to me. Suffice it to say, after only half an hour I was jealous of the good folks in Ottawa and thankful for online streaming.

The sound is mostly all blues music with a few more well known tunes that could be considered blues rock thrown in here and there to hopefully grab the wider audience of dial scanners looking to hear something they know. Why is there nothing else on the radio in Canada that sounds like this? I know a blues station in every market likely wouldn’t work, but there only being one of them in the entire country is pretty strange. It would take a bit of thought and some planning, but I’m sure a blues station could do ok in a few cities.

Wow Steve, you’re being very kind to a radio station. Are you ok?

Hang on, I’m getting there. This is radio, you know we can’t have nice things. And since we can’t have nice things, why wouldn’t my new favourite radio station up and do something stupid right around the time I start listening?

Bernard said the station will start focussing more on the music.
“We want to focus more on the music, less talking. We want this radio station to be known as a music-centric station, we are Canada’s only blues-formatted, full-time dedicated station.
“To that end we want more music that is focused on the genre so that is why these changes have been put in place,” he said.
“The overall direction of the shows we feel was in need of an overhaul to affect the more music content that we do want. Unfortunately, it meant letting these two guys go,” he said.

“These two guys” are morning host Dylan Black and afternoon host J-Man, who had both been with the station since it signed on.

I guess that’s why even though I was loving the music yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. The DJ, who’s name I either didn’t catch or was never spoken, seemed very unremarkable. He sounded a bit like he didn’t know the music at all and was just trying to fake his way through the shift he was covering. If that’s what focusing on the music means and let’s face it, it usually does, then Dawg just lost a couple of points in my eyes.

I have no idea if Black and J-Man were any good, but if they were canned in order to “focus on the music,” they likely were. Radio has a long and storied history of firing talented broadcasters with personality and interesting stories to tell.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on the music. We all want more music. But any station, especially one with a format like blues which is going to be unfamiliar to the majority of potential listeners, needs hooks to keep people interested. There needs to be somebody there to explain why this song I’ve never heard is important. Why should I care about this guy who plays a guitar? What makes him different than the guy who played guitar on the song before him? Faceless robots who’s only job is throwing it to the traffic report can’t make the connection that’s needed to make listeners feel like they’re part of the experience. And once you don’t feel like you’re part of the experience, all that’s left is an iPod with commercials, and nobody wants or needs one of those.

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