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miércoles, junio 06, 2012

Clinging To Fossils: FM Radio, Blogs

This might be about time. And change. Or those things and impermanence. It might also be about technology. It's just that things are always dying. And sometimes I don't realize it. And then there are times when death is foretold.

WAMC is again conducting a fund drive. It started on Monday, and the goal is $1 Million. That’s right $1 Million Dollars. When I say that, I sound like Dr. Evil. Regardless, this $1 Million Dollar Fund Drive happens three (or is it now four?) times in every year. And it goes on and on and on. Yes, WAMC is a large enterprise. Yes, it has lots of listeners across the Northeast. Yes, it has 20 transmitters. Yes. But I’m wondering whether it’s a fossil. Whether FM (now HD radio) is DOA. Whether all of this fund raising is for something that might gracefully be saluted, and appreciated, and let go. An old love that’s now gone. A sweetheart who’s leaving. A companion who has lived a full life and can’t continue. An old, but beloved car. This fills me with sadness. And probably denial. I don’t want to see it go, but the obit’s in the draft file.

Of course, I haven’t been able to listen to WAMC’s regular programming because they are on the Fund Drive. So what. I can hear NPR news on my iPhone. I can hear streaming features from NPR and its many affiliates across the country on my iPhone. In fact, I can hear almost anything I want on my iPhone (Thanks and all praise be to Spotify and Pandora and ESPN). So I don’t really need WAMC now. I don’t really need it at all. Even in the car. Nor do you. As far as I’m concerned they can fund raise perpetually and then get stuck in a loop of replaying Prairie Home Companion. I don’t care. And if Verizon has enough bandwidth, and I have enough money to pay for it, I can listen to whatever I want from NPR (read: Government Radio) or anywhere else (Al Jazeera, e.g.), streaming on 3G or 4G or where there is Internet access for free on demand. I’m not tied to a schedule. And I never have to turn on the FM radio ever again. So, does all of this mean that WAMC a fossil? Yes, a once beloved one, but a fossil nonetheless?

A nephew who shall remain nameless is in the radio biz. I asked him, “Is FM going to be transformed into something new and useful or is it going to die?” Said he in essence, “Get your suit dry cleaned for the funerals.”

Which, sadly, brings me to WGXC in Hudson at 90.7. A community FM station. A new one. One that has had some wonderful moments. And some equally dreadful ones. A station that has explored both the zeniths and the nadirs, and often in the same hour. I tried to be an underwriter for WGXC. I don’t know whether my ad ever ran. I don’t know when the ad expired. Nobody ever showed me the information about when it ran, if it did, and then, oddly, nobody ever called me to ask me to re-up, to pay for more ads, to solicit my money. No, I called them instead. Crickets. This may be yet another reason to dry clean the black suit. It’s hard to have a community FM station survive when nobody’s collecting money from easy donors like me. Or am I unreasonable to want to know that what I paid for was actually carried out?

And then there’s blogging. Blogger friends tell me that blogging is dead, that social media is what is now important. To some extent I agree and I understand what they are saying, but I keep writing this blog, The Dream Antilles. And I keep praying that Google, which owns blogger which owns the domain, won’t have an infarction and lose everything I’ve written for the past 6 years. So, yes, I guess it's obvious, this blog, too, may be a fossil. And maybe I won’t be able to let it go, even when it’s completely obvious to everyone but me that it’s outlived its useful life. And that it has no readership. The latter probably doesn’t matter to me. At least not today. I suppose I’ll just keep going. I’ll keep writing this blog. And I’ll quietly compare myself to WAMC. And I’ll wonder what exactly it might be that keeps any of these fossils slogging perpetually along. Beyond their useful lives.

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