Since I’ve recently gone through 2 CD players in my car [the 10 disc changer died last year and the Discman died; both for no explainable reason], something I realized a few years ago really came to light – Radio in the NYC/NY area pretty much sucks donkey balls. I realize my favorite genre of music is not the most popular anymore (Metal & Hard Rock). However, living in the largest metropolitan area, one would think finding a form of music, that while not the MOST popular, still supports a very loyal and strong fanbase, wouldn’t be too difficult.
Listening to good and new metal/hard rock in NJ/NY area on the radio is more often than not, a challenge. The biggest rock station K-Rock plays Howard in the morning and follows him with what amounts to throwing shit against the wall and seeing what sticks. For the most part, their programming is a mix of stuff that was popular around 1994, the Beastie Boys, Staind, Cypress Hill and Eminem. It was getting to the point that 2-3 out of the 5 weekdays, they were playing the same exact song right after Howard went off the air. Some days it seems like they cycle the same bands through each hour, with different songs – at least once an hour they’d play Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, or the over-rated Red Hot Chili Peppers. The station promotes Metallica, but rarely plays any Metallica songs from before the Black Album, which is the album that started the band's downward trend.
89.5 WSOU, Seton Hall’s Pirate Radio was pretty good in the past, though in recent years (January 2002 to be specific), they haven’t been playing as much pure metal since and modified their format from Metal to “Ecclectic Rock,” “something that's a better fit for the Jesuit university's community image.” Bullshit, this station was THE place to hear good hard rock/metal for years and started the career of a handful of DJs. For the longest time this was the only place to hear Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Shadows Fall, Iced Earth, Dream Theater and similar bands. They now mostly play winy-sounding punkish crap which ALL sounds pretty much the same.
105.5 WDHA & 95.9 WRAT are probably on the whole, the most listenable stations around these parts. Sister stations, DHA is out of Morristown, NJ and the RAT is out of Belmar, NJ, but they format is pretty much the same. DHA plays a bit more of the classic rock and the RAT plays a bit more of the current hard rock. I guess my only real complaint about DHA, which I listen to at work since I work in Morristown, is they play TOO much classic stuff-as if they are required to meet a quota of playing the Pretenders, the Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd at least once an hour. DHA seems to love Nickelback, too, but we all have our faults. DHA & the RAT always promote local shows and play the bands in the time surrounding their concert – they played a good amount of Godsmack when Godsmack was at Starland, they played Iron Maiden when Maiden was in NYC last year and in general, often have a good mix of stuff. DHA has good days where they play new Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Godsmack, Black Sabbath and too many crappy days of the Pretenders, the Allmans, Nickleback, Staind and Steve Miller. And for the request shows, can we please put a ban on songs by Steve Miller, Jet, The Who's “Who are You,” or any songs that also double as commercials and/or TV theme songs?
Without a doubt, though, the best source on the radio for GREAT Hard Rock and Metal is Eddie Trunk’s syndicated Friday Night Rocks, played on the local classic rock station Q104.3. Eddie always has great guests, like Dave Mustaine, Tony Iommi and Judas Priest. Eddie’s show right after Dimebag Darrell was shot was very classy as a lot of musicians called in to share their thoughts. His show almost always features new artists, up and coming artists and classic metal artists. He’s also syndicated on XM radio, and is often seen on VH1 Classics. I just wish he had a regular week-day show. Then again if he did, I may not be ranting about this subject right now.
Aside from Eddie Trunk the other place I’ve found and heard good music is Music Choice: Metal on digital cable. I heard Ra for the first time there and a good amount of Shadows Fall and Atreyu on their metal station too. If I’m on the computer or reading, I’ll often flip to that channel for background music.
Music isn’t the only thing on the radio, there’s a lot of talk. Sports Radio, thanks to 1050 WEPN is probably what I’ve been listening to the most in the car, that is for the 1/3 of my car ride the station actually comes in. They have a real shitty signal. For a radio station owned by one of the largest media conglomerates (ABC/ESPN/DISNEY) you’d think they would have a stronger signal for a sports radio station that’s trying to compete in the biggest radio market in the country, NYC, against, arguably the biggest sports radio station in the country, WFAN. I live in central Jersey and drive to and from Northern NJ everyday for work and the signal rarely comes in a listenable consistent way, and most often it is very shoddy and all static. As for the actual content, again when it is listenable, Mike and Mike in the morning have a good rapport and I really enjoy the Michael Kay show as well. I’m glad Kay is now on the drive home, I can’t stand Fatso and Mush-mouth (Mike and the Mad Dog), though I do like Sid Rosenberg from the Fan. Hell, about a year and half ago, I won a pass to sit in on Sid and Jody Mac’s daytime show in WFAN. I liked Sid back when he was a sports guy on WNEW, but since he’s on during the day and AM doesn’t come in my office at all, I don’t get to listen to him.
Which all brings me to WNEW, the onetime home of Opie and Anthony and Ron and Fez. O&A are now on XM, which I plan on getting when I get a new car. They always had me glued to the radio and are a big reason why I’m a huge fan of Godsmack and Disturbed, those two always talked up the band and played parts of their songs during the breaks. O&A were and probably still are everything Howard Stern wishes he could be, in terms of relevance and humor. I still like Howard, but O&A really took that type of talk/entertainment radio to the next level
Ron and Fez were just as good and had me laughing out loud, sometimes, more often than O&A. R&F did their comedy pyramid, listeners would call in, to try and play along with the comedy theme, it was like a huge circle of friends where everybody tried to ridicule each other. Ron and Fez were pulled from WNEW the day after the Superbowl in 2003, I remember specifically because Fez is a huge Tampa Bay fan and I really wanted to hear his reaction to Tampa Bay winning. I was even a Big ASS Cardholder, Fortunately for Washington D.C. listeners, they are on WJFK, and I don’t know that they’ll be back anywhere in NYC/NJ. WNEW is also where Eddie Trunk started Friday Night Rocks, and eventually he went on to do Saturday Night Rocks. Hell, the whole Station was like one big group friends you could sit back and drink a few beers with, as they appeared on each other's shows very often.
I suppose I've bitched and moaned enough today.