A great, pull-no-punches article about the format change of 95.7:
CUCKOO EDMONTON RADIO: Ah, Juicy Fruit
By Mike Ross
The gut reaction to listening to the radio station formerly known as the Sound – which relaunched Monday as Lite 95.7 – is to re-enact a scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
It’s the part where Jack Nicholson’s character McMurphy tries to strangle the evil Nurse Ratched after she goaded a teenage boy into committing suicide. So they give him a lobotomy. The Chief sees what they did to his best buddy, and is unable to bear the thought of Mac living without frontal lobes, personality or identity in a hellish mental hospital for the rest of his life. So the Chief smothers his friend to death with a pillow before smashing a giant sink through the window and running free into the night – probably to a beautiful fantasy world where the radio dial is full of stations just like CKUA and CBC and CJSR.
Yes, listening to Lite 95.7 is exactly like that.
The Sound has been wiped clean. The last few months must’ve been some wonderful, bizarre dream where Alanis Morissette lived in the same Old Apartment as Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughan in the ‘90s at 9. Now it’s time to wake up and get back to work because Lite 95.7 is our “At Work Station.” I hate Mondays.
There’s some bad news for all those Sound supporters who came out of the woodwork: Nothing is going to change. Thanks for all your letters, but where were all you people before? Give your flowers to the living, why don’t you? Too late.
“Well, I did,” pipes in local radiohead Sheena Millar. She was so pissed when her favourite radio station died that she wrote a letter to the station’s head office, Harvard Broadcasting. It expresses deep disappointment in losing “one of the most original radio stations this city had” and ends with a plea to “reconsider.” Never happen. The switch was a “business decision,” which always sounds lame until you realize how many people’s livelihoods depend on business decisions. The Sound wasn’t getting big money for ads (with a sad 0.8 rating), and something had to be done or a lot of people might’ve lost their jobs. That is, unless Harvard had been willing to invest a little more money and a little more time for cool radio in Edmonton. But they obviously weren’t. So when EZ Rock flipped to Virgin, there was a hole in the Edmonton light rock market – which is where the light rock market should be, frankly – and Harvard rushed to fill it. Done deal. Plus they still have this weird thing in their license that says they have to play a certain percentage of blues and/or jazz. Michael Buble is of course perfect: Fulfils genre, Lite Rock mandate and Canadian content in one maudlin burst of schwing.
We reached what we hoped would be a disgruntled former Sound announcer who was “let go” after the switch. The person didn’t sound angry: “I was shocked. I thought they would’ve given it more time. But I understand. It was a business decision. Shit happens.”
Millar knows Harvard won’t budge, but she hopes that maybe one of the other stations will get inspired by the outrage of her and other former Sound Supporters – whom she describes as people who WANT to listen to commercial radio but generally don’t because there’s usually nothing good on (same can be said for TV) – and “pick up the ball.” She agrees that a radio station can be more than a mere jukebox, that it can turn into a more personal relationship. When one gets into the zen of listening for long periods of time, while studying, say, or making out, a good radio station can to take on a parental, almost God-like role: They’re talking to YOU. They’re picking music they think YOU would like. They’re playing songs YOU lost your virginity to.
Millar joined a new Facebook group: Edmonton Needs a Decent Radio Station. It’ll have to be one we already have. The Edmonton radio dial is full. No more new stations, for now.
I listened to about two hours of the new Lite 95.7 morning show the other day with the husband-and-wife tag team of Jamie and Dan, and it wasn’t COMPLETELY horrible. The hosts were charming and mildly witty in the manner of mid-morning talk shows. They played Tainted Love, talked about how Jamie doesn’t like moustaches and then made a bit of fun of Matthew McConaughey. She loves him. He doesn’t. Oh, the matrimonial hilarity we’re in for! They played The Climb by Miley Cyrus, after which Jamie noted that the song is inspirational to people going through “stuff.” They gave a plug for Lite 95.7’s “secret santas,” who had been roaming around town giving away money during the audio lobotomy process over the weekend (72 hours of Christmas music). Then they played Daughters by John Mayer. That song gets me misty every time. They played Taylor Swift and LeAnn Rimes and Michael Jackson, then some old-time swing ballad I’ve heard a million times before. They played Shania Twain. As the morning show drifted off, they played a non-stop block of 95.7 minutes of something. I’m just going to go ahead and call it “SHIT,” OK?
Pass the pillow.
(In addition to CKUA and CBC and CJSR, the Chief would probably listen to Edmonton’s aboriginal station CFWE 98.5 FM, too. Great station. Very interesting. We’ll get to them on another date.)