Monday, January 19, 2015

1.19.15 Bee-otch of the Day: WGFM/Rock 105

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Name: WGFM "Rock 105"
Age: 47 (6 as a regular rock station)
Occupation: rock station
Last Seen: Cheboygan, MI
Bee-otched For: proving how lame they are when it comes to adding new music
The good news with northern Michigan radio is that there's no Cumulus, iFartRadio or Townsquare to be seen.

The bad news: local owners can be just as clueless as the fat cats.

Northern Michigan has the distinction of having four stations that consider themselves rock. However, three out of the four stations - KLT, The Bear and Q100 - are with quasi- or pure classic rock.

The only new rock station up north is of course Rock 105. True, it was once Real Rock 105 and 95-5, but on April Fools Day 2013, the station lost 95.5 when it flipped to boring easy listening WQEZ/EZ 95-5/106-3 (simulcast with 106.3 in Onaway). It also lost the Free Beer and Hot Wings morning show, claiming lost ratings, even though Real Rock was the highest-rated out of Del Reynolds' stations. Thankfully, FB&HW has resurfaced on WMBN 1340 Petoskey and WKAD 93.7 Cadillac, both sports stations as "The Ticket".

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to give Rock 105 a whirl. I listened for about an hour, and the music mix was OK. I heard Metallica ("Wherever I May Roam"), The Pretty Reckless ("Messed Up World") and Green Day ("Longview"). But it's what I didn't hear that pissed me off.

In one hour's time, I heard only ONE song currently on the rock charts, and it was Foo Fighters' mega-hit "Something From Nothing".

Meanwhile, last week, I was listening to their daily feature "The Rock Radar", which is where they play a tune "currently getting some love on the rock charts, but we're not playing it." The song chosen for that day: "Sick Like Me" by In This Moment.

Funny. That tune is currently #11 on the rock charts and was shipped to radio three months ago. AND IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO BE IN REGULAR ROTATION?!?!

This is proof that even with four rock stations, northern Michigan radio flat-out blows. They think that their listeners are retarded, so they cram the same fucking 200 tunes over and over again into their brains. I even shook my head when the DJ Sunday afternoon announced that Marilyn Manson was coming up, and the tune played was "Sweet Dreams", probably his 'safest' song. He also has a new single out, "Deep Six" that might be one of his best in years.

You see, local station owners in northern Michigan are fucking clueless. I even have a saying about them: instead of entertaining people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, they'd rather entertain people BORN in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Too many stations playing country, classic rock and oldies and not enough new and current stuff.

Personally, I think the only rock station owner up north that seems to give a damn is Q100's Jerry Coyne, who has taken the "no consultants" approach. Yes, there's a ton of classic rock, but the station also spins a lot of stuff the bigger stations up north have never touched. Hell, Sunday afternoon, I heard James' 1990s classic "Laid", and I DOUBT if anybody up north played that one back in the day! It might also explain why Q100 now has more Facebook likes than The Bear.

Despite the fact that there's services like Sirius, Slacker, Pandora and TuneIn, northern Michigan radio operators seem to don't give a damn. Play the same 200 shitty songs over and over and collect from the advertisers. Maybe they oughta explain why the last time I walked into a northern Michigan grocery store, they had Sirius over the intercom. Hell, if I owned a business up north and a northern Michigan station came to me to advertise on their stations, guess what I would say to them? GIVE ME A COPY OF THE MOST-RECENT NIELSEN 12+ RATINGS. IF YOU CAN'T, THEN GET THE FUCK OUT OR I'LL CALL THE GODDAMNED COPS.

If northern Michigan radio doesn't change real soon, then I'll suspect that many stations up north will be silenced within the next 10 years or so. Hell, I just recently went to WJML's website and it's blocked because of malware. The fact that they've only gained seven likes on Facebook within the past year proves that nobody cares anymore, even though they're northern Michigan's affiliate for Glenn Beck and Dave Ramsey.

Look at shopping malls. In the past decade, dozens of them have either turned into dead malls with less than 20% occupancy or closed altogether. Why? Simple: competition from internet sites such as Amazon and big box chains such as Walmart and Meijer, and even larger, nicer malls. Plus, there's also the issue of crime. Here in Grand Rapids, there was Centerpointe Mall, which was a dead zone for years until the owners finally decided to tear down 1/2 the mall and convert it to a "lifestyle center" where all the stores are outside. Guess what? IT'S WORKED! They've added new stores and the parking lot is even more full these days. Their across-the-street rival, Woodland - once Grand Rapids' largest mall - even did good when RiverTown Crossings opened cross town in 1999. Over the years, the owners renovated and refurbished the mall and even added on everything from a food court to a 14-screen movie theater. Even though some say that malls are as good as dead, try to get a good parking spot at their main entrance on the weekends these days.

That's what northern Michigan radio should do: do things nobody else is doing! It's working for Q100, so why can't it work for stations that are apparently failing? Station owners and managers need to get people on the streets and ask them what they want in a radio station instead of assuming. When Rock 105 dropped 95.5 and Free Beer and Hot Wings, people complained. Now, it's probably either the safest active rock station playlist-wise or a mainstream rocker that simply doesn't play 1970s butt rock. If I were Rock 105, I would bump currents to four per hour and increase the amount of new songs out there to full rotation.

As long as the internet get faster and better - especially up in northern Michigan - station owners need to either fight or get their heads out of their asses.


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