From all the consolidation going on in the radio industry, it would be easy to surmise that commercial rock radio is on the skids. For someone who grew up listening to rock radio obsessively, it's strange to think about how limited my options are these days. There's college radio, which is awesome, but in terms of mainstream stations, there's just classic rock, less classic rock and classic-ish rock. I'd say 90% of my music listening is done via my iPod or on my computer. Suffice it to say, up until recently, I never thought I'd have much more than cursory knowledge of top 40 radio ever again.
But in the last few months, my lovely daughters have been really immersing themselves in pop music. They had already been big fans, especially my 11-year-old, who would ask me from time to time to get her Taylor Swift's new album or some Disney XD TV show soundtrack to put on her iPod. Of late, both she and my 13-year-old have been more assertive in their pop fandom, listening to Boston-area top 40 stations (104.1, 103.3 and 107.9) on a seemingly non-stop basis. Not only do they love to listen to said stations whenever they can at home, they also have commandeered the car radios, quick to switch the station at a second's notice. This is something that didn't happen, especially when I was driving. What I wanted to listen to was what we heard, and they had iPods so it didn't matter if they didn't like it. But now they don't care about my so-called authority.
And of course, given the super-tight playlists on top 40 stations these days, this means I get to hear the same five to seven songs over and over again: Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood," Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance," Wiz Khalifa's "See You Again," Fifth Harmony's "Worth It." Sure, there are songs they don't like and they're quick to jump to another station. I like to give them crap about hearing the same songs repeatedly, but there once was a time when I couldn't get enough of Joe Jackson's "I'm the Man" or The Cars' "Let's Go" or Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" or Hall and Oates' "Kiss on My List." I understand it, but damn, these songs they like SUCK. I will say that Taylor Swift's songs are super catchy, so I can respect that even if I'm not a fan.
I don't know if girls across the country are into top 40 the same way my girls are, but I'm willing to bet that they are. Which means radio (and the music industry) is not quite dead yet. It's in critical condition, but corporate radio is still hanging on for dear life.