To the editor:
I thought I would say something regarding the state of Buffalo radio ("Uneasy Listening," Gusto, April 22) and the "impoverishment of the airways" and the "sanitized" music, which apparently is "below banality," since the topic has been raised.
Actually the topic is raised frequently, and I'm feeling bombarded with the bad press. I know there is another side, and I feel uniquely qualified to address a different perspective. I find myself employed at a radio station which seems to be the most maligned here in our area. I play rock 'n' roll on the radio! I believe I've logged more hours of rock 'n' roll "toonage" at night for Western New Yorkers than anyone!
I truly love this job. A huge part of my job requires contending with the feedback from my audience, and I am here to tell you that people are not calling me to reflect even the smallest percentage of venom that I read about. People always don't like something! Heck, people call to say they don't like the way I dress. But even when people call me to complain, they are still listening to the music. Not many are ever calling to say that they'd rather live in Canada because the music is so excellent. As a matter of fact, folks from as far away as Toronto call to say, "97 Rock rules!"
Most detractors use the local music scene as their point of contention. It's obvious that our musical richness in the area is above many areas in the nation. But your Green Jellys and Billy Sheehans and all the rest got the message . . . this is not the place to make it big. There are not 10 cities in the United States that will take local talent, expose it on local radio, and break that local talent on a national level. It just isn't done. Why is it that the Common Council expects that of a Buffalo radio station? We have no magic powers. We play a local band on the air, sometimes making a feature nighttime presentation out of it, the relatives are notified . . . and the rest of the city wants to hear Genesis. What can I do to change that?
Let's face it, I'll be 40 in a year, and I have to believe that my constituency is also rollin' right around in that age group as well. What's more, many (and I mean many) of my counterparts are raising children, 15 and 16 years old who also think the Doors are awesome or the Who is still the greatest rock 'n' roll band ever. We are listening to the music we grew up with! We loved it then, we use it now, and if we're in the mood for something else, thank God, we have options!
Western New York has some of the most professional and talented air personalities available, and we have a wide variety of musical choices on the radio dial. I am always getting calls from truckers on the road or guys from down South somewhere with cute little accents attesting to those facts. We also should really consider how fortunate we are to be this close to Canada, because music is such a horse of a different color north of the border. Yet someone just keeps complaining, bad-mouthing, and criticizing the situation.
And now the Common Council is being subjected to folk music festivals and "amateur guitar night," when, in my estimation, perhaps that time would be better spent dealing with the heinous crime, or deterioration of the infrastructure, or the budget deficit, or the revitalization of our area. Making Buffalo out to be a Nashville or Los Angeles in order to support our musically talented isn't going to save our city!
But what do I know? I'm just here playing music I love deeply in an area that I enjoy being in for people who, from my perspective, can be orgiastically enthusiastic about their rock 'n' roll. After all, when we were young, collectively our worst crimes consisted of plucking living flowers out of the ground to wear in our hair. Now, I think, we would just like to be left to try to get good stadium seat tickets (when those rare opportunities roll around) and contemplate the true meaning of "Dust in the Wind."
97 Rock disc jockey