Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Good Bye to The Sound Cincinnati... sort of

The Best Station in Town Gets Harder to Listen To

Out of all the music stations in Cincinnati, the only one that could get me to turn off the iPod and listen to something live was The Sound. Sadly, this past weekend it stopped broadcasting on analogue radio and is now only available on HD radio and online.

Alternative radio in Cincinnati never really seemed to find a home. Back in the day 107.1 used to be the station to listen to if you wanted a break from top 40. It played a good mix of alternative rock and was pretty much the place to go if you wanted to hear about up and coming bands. It seemed like a solid kick in the mouth when it turned into Kiss FM and played yet more top 40. The only plus side was that unlike Q102, Kiss's top 40 didn't drop out any instance of "rap" that might appear in a song.

Since this happened just as I was leaving for college, it took me four years to discover that alt-rock was still alive in Cincinnati, except now it was on 97.3. I'd gotten used to that when one day I turned on my radio and heard country music. It honestly took me a few songs to realize that they weren't playing a few "country sounding" rock songs but full on country.

Fortunately, it wasn't too hard to learn that it the alt rock was now on 94.9, which was now called "The Sound," since the station had a pretty big TV and billboard ad campaign announcing the move. On the other hand, their logo didn't really do much do suggest what kind of music they played. Previous alt-rock stations had an "edgy" look to them, whereas The Sound looked like it was a smooth jazz/adult contemporary station. Observe.

Anyway, I'd gotten used to it on 94.9 when once again I tune in one afternoon and find them playing something that was not alt-rock. This time it was NASCAR racing. Apparently in a less publicized move, the station owners had decided to switch it back over to 97.3. This time, I had to rely on word of mouth to find out where it'd gone.

Then this past weekend, same thing happened again. I turn on the radio, and it's playing country. This time it was blatantly country, not the bluegrass/rock sort of stuff that kind of toes the line. I had to fiddle around on the internet to find out what happened this time. I'd hoped it just changed to another frequency, but as you can see on the above graphic, it now moved to HD radio... 

You can see my frustration here. NOBODY has HD radio. When I had to replace my car radio a few months back, new radios were only "HD ready" meaning that you could get an HD radio unit easily added, but you couldn't pick up HD stations as-is. Right now I'm shopping for a new car (yeah, I know. I probably should have held off on getting the radio since presumably the car would come with a new one). Among the features cars advertise are built in satellite radio, bluetooth and an auxiliary jack to listen to your MP3 player on. I have yet to see one that touts the fact it comes with HD radio.

So basically, this means that unless I'm sitting down at a computer, I can't listen to it, which is problematic because pretty much the only time I am listening to radio is when I'm in my car. Hopefully another station will pick up the slack and broadcast alt-rock on a frequency I can pick up in the greater Cincinnati area. Until then it looks like I'm sticking to my iPod, with the occasional foray onto NPR, WEBN and Q102.

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