Radio Silence

Bandwidth takes to the airwaves -- and lives to tell the tale

Everyone complains about the radio, but no one ever does anything about it. Ever find anything worth leaving the dial alone for? Ever tried? Forget "set it and forget it" -- driving without plenty of CDs is almost as dangerous as merging onto I-595 at rush hour. Search the FM dial up and down and backward for a half-hour -- it's enough to make you pack up and move to Port St. Lucie. The only good comes in the form of hip-hop (WKPX's "Urban Airwaves" program in particular) and, more recently, reggae. The beamed-in corporate signals that mysteriously dispense dreck without any human presence (a prime offender is Party 93.1's nonstop dance mix) do so with a soundless scream -- like pod people. Yet costs are minimized, and profits bubble over the beaker.

Here's a week's worth of research to prove our point:

Monday, January 6, 2:30-3 p.m.

WKPX (88.5): Hours of kiddie punk evidently makes someone happy. Not me.

90.9: Broward's dependable hip-hop pirate station lies adrift in static-y silence.

WTMI (93.1): Unfortunately, one of the six songs on Party 93's playlist is a faux-opera track.

WZTA (94.9): ZETA slaps on a testosterone patch in the form of Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

WXDJ (95.7): Lite-Latin elevator music; no redeeming social value detected.

WPOW (96.5): Power 96 turns a blind ear to the R. Kelly video controversy by pumping his new single "Ignition."

WFLC (97.3): The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" is probably as adventurous as this adult-contemporary oasis gets.

WRMF (97.9): If you don't think it hurts to hear Travis Tritt's "I'm the Only One Strong Enough to Be Your Man," just give it a try.

Monday, January 6, 9-10 p.m.

WRMF: So this is where the American Idolalso-rans go to die.

WZTA: Another guy with Eddie Vedder Disease? Oh -- it's "Jeremy." Never mind.

WHQT (105.1): At first mistaken for Milli Vanilli, this was later ID'd as Terence Trent D'arby. The hair extensions threw me off.

WLVE (93.9): For a minute, you can pretend you're in a dentist's office. At the very least, LOVE 94 makes my teeth hurt.

WBBG (105.9): Old Aerosmith: bad. New Aerosmith: worse.

90.9: Back in business -- not only with reggae but with a real person, taking calls instead of shuffling canned tracks.

WPOW: Suggested slogan for Power 96: "We'll play anything too black for Party 93.1!" Hence, BK2 and P. Diddy's "Bump Bump Bump."

WHYI (100.7): Guilty-pleasure time thanks to the chorus of Jimmy Eat World's "In the Middle."

WMIB (103.5): The former Mega 103.5 recently fired its staff and became the personality-free "the new booty-shakin' 103.5 The Beat!" Claiming to be unleashing "10,000 joints in a row!" the station checks in with DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat."

Tuesday, January 7, 9:45 a.m.-1 p.m.

WMXJ (102.7): Something listenable, right off the bat: "Eight Days a Week" followed by that stalking bassline from "Green-Eyed Lady." It's magic!

WMIB: Missy Elliot's "Work It" finds yet another station on which to rotate heavily.

104.1: "The Boss," as this station is known, plays a winning selection of warm lover's rock and older reggae jams.

WKPX: Girls Against Boys, what a surprise!

WLRN (91.3): The odd, quaking voice of rheumy Diane Rehm, in this case discussing U.N. weapons inspections: can't live with it; can't live without it.

WTMI: Same operatic drum-machine nonsense again.

WMCU (89.7): Family News in Focus, the "fair-'n'-balanced" report from this Christian station, presents (gasp!) a negative story on the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights League.

WXEL (90.7): Ordinarily, I'd pass on Richard Strauss, but the overture from "Dance of the Kitchen Boy" is so damn stirring!

WKPX: Hey! Something really funky is going on here -- first with Hybrid and the Baldwin Brothers, then with a new track that could only be from Meat Beat Manifesto, with spine-cracking bass pulses and ballsy gutbucket drums! Don't touch that dial!

WMXJ: In a bad mood, so the Turtles' "Happy Together" makes waiting for a yacht to quit blocking traffic that much more interminable.

104.1: Donnie Elbert's sad cover of "Where Did Our Love Go?" seems much more apropos.

104.7: Selections from an old Bill Cosby comedy album wash away the taste of those Jell-O commercials remarkably well.

WXEL: More fun from our other public radio station -- an interview with the executive editor of Sky & Telescope magazine!

Wednesday, January 8, 11:30 a.m.

90.9: "Shake ya ting!" advises the effervescent and very locally oriented DJ for this newly rastafied pirate station, pimping a Saturday-night party at the Hibiscus Restaurant/Nightclub in Sunrise, a hangout featuring Chinese/Jamaican/Guyanese cooking.

WEDR (99.1): In which 99 Jams, with a little help from Busta Rhymes, advises us to "Pass the Courvoisier." A little early, but... don't mind if I do, Mr. Rhymes, don't mind if I do.

Wednesday, January 8, 3:15-6 p.m.

WKIS (99.9): In clear violation of the 1999 Clichés in Communications Act, there's actually a country song with the line "Chasin' that neon rainbow."

WHYI (100.7): Give me gangsta over this insipid lovey-dovey faux hip-hop any day.

WMXJ: This annoying cover of "Working My Way Back to You" makes me pine for Frankie Valli's falsetto, and that's all sorts of wrong.

WRTO (98.3): Tropical pop always goes better with timbales. I'm a sucker for timbales. Throw a handful of roasted pine nuts on there and I'm in heaven.

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