Monday, July 4, 2011

Rockin' in the Free World

Two years ago, I blogged about one of the best radio stations I've ever had the privilege to experience: WRXP 101.9. I've been a faithful listener ever since.

But for how much longer?

News surfaced recently about the station's acquisition by Merlin Media from Ennis Communications. Now rumors are spreading like wildfire that the station's rock format will flip to either talk/news radio, or, less likely, a country music station.

For me and thousands of other listeners in the NYC area, this is tragic news. When I heard this news, I felt like Merlin killed a piece of my soul and will not be satisfied until my entire soul is dead. Maybe this seems like I'm over-reacting, but consider this:

1) KROCK and WDRE/WLIR changed owners/formats a few years ago, as did WHTG in New Jersey. There is WDHA, a classic rock station, also based in New Jersey - but without WRXP, fans of modern rock, alternative and new music will not have a place to call home. Once again, we will be disenfranchised. Once again, we will be told that we do not count. Once again, these station owners will be absolutely wrong.

2) People like to say that New York is not a rock-and-roll town. I can't think of a place that's more rock-and-roll. It's not just about the beat. It's not just about the music. It's the attitude. It's freedom at its rawest, in the shadow of the very symbols of American freedom. Trying to separate NYC from its rock roots is impossible. And it will not roll over and play dead for talk radio.

3) This article gives a quote describing Merlin Media's CEO, Randy Michaels, as "...a guy who loves radio. He adores it." Really? Which part? The money? Or transmitting absolutely useless crap that stirs no emotion to a sea of people who may only listen as a sleeping aid. Very sad.

I don't want my musings to come across like a kid whose favorite toy is being taken away. No. As a college-educated professional in my early 30s, I am representative of the very demographic that stations should be trying to reach, rather than kicking them in the stomach. One of the key things a potential Merlin Media employee must do, according to their own site) is "preserve and enhance the good will." Really? It would seem that Merlin - a company that's just a few weeks old - is tromping all over "good will." Way to build a legion of loyal listeners. Clearly, if Merlin flips formats, suspicions that they are only interested in money will be confirmed.

As the lowly peon on the bottom of the food chain, perhaps my words don't matter. Perhaps they will fall on deaf ears - tone deaf ears - and they will have no impact whatsoever. But perhaps a sea of words will create a flood of change and stop this format flip before it's too late.

I want to keep rockin' in the free world. Do you, New York?

Join on Facebook: Save Rock 101.9
Contact: Merlin Media