The thing is...

As much as I can appreciate that people like XM and Sirius, those services are expensive. The receivers are all at least $100, and the service itself is $10-$13 a month. Granted, there are no commercials, and there are a hundred stations tailored to every interest. That sounds nice. But I used to be able to listen to decent radio for free.

Rampant deregulation has destroyed any semblance of creativity or local flavor in large markets. I'm sure Infinity will do well with "El Zol," where, I'm told, it's siempre de fiesta.

(By the way, I had fun picturing the switchover this way: a dour, Goth-looking DJ spins a Cure record and talks dully into the microphone; the clock hits noon; the DJ suddenly puts on a sombrero and starts broadcasting in upbeat Spanish.)

Everyone has been saying good riddance, because they hadn't been listening in the past few years anyway. But WHFS might have survived if it hadn't become so watered down by corporate ownership. The station's ratings have tanked pretty much in conjunction with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, surely the worst piece of legislation ever crafted by man. It allowed companies to own more than one station in a market; now competition is out the window, playlists are overly researched and repeat every two hours, and the on-air personalities could be broadcasting from company headquarters in Hackensack, N.J., for all you know. It SUUUUUUUCCCCKKKSSSS.

I want my old radio back. The kind where I could leave it on for hours while working on something, and not hear the same song twice. The kind that didn't make me want to shoot myself after having to listen to another 10-minute block of commercials. ("We're in the middle of another no-music hour!") The kind that would, occasionally, play something obscure or new or fresh, just because the DJ felt like it.

Instead, today, the DJ basically pushes a button and a computer plays the next song on the company-approved playlist. It's killing radio in larger cities. And Washington, being, as it is, an anti-creative juggernaut, has nothing in the way of a college radio or otherwise independent rock-type station (at least nothing I can pick up).

Sadly, once you deregulate, you can't re-regulate, can you? Legally it would be possible; after all, these are the public airwaves we're talking about. We own them, not the corporations. The FM and AM spectra have to be divvied up the way Congress says.

Oops, I forgot: they own Congress. There's no way our legislators, stuck as they are in a perpetual sixty-nine with corporations, would ever reverse the Telecom Act, and force the Clear Channels and Infinitys of the world to divest themselves of stations.

Oh well. It's just reason #243 why we need a violent, bloody revolution. Oooh, and also sexy. A violent, bloody, sexy revolution.

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