Monthly Archives: February 2004
XM Music Lab has a split personality. Sometimes, it plays good ole progressive rock (Yes, Genesis, and the like). Othertimes, it plays “jam bands” like Phish.
My tastes lean strongly towards the old stuff. So my reaction to this channel varied a lot through the day — when it was good, it was very, very good, but when it was bad, it was barely OK.
I’ll be back here, but how long I stay on any visit will depend very much on what mode the playlist is in at that instant.
But the beginning of that famous newscast is even more relevant and welcome today:
“Big light in sky slated to appear in east!”
Yes, there was actually some sun visible on my way to work, for the first time in days. Maybe it’ll be possible to get outside at lunchtime for some walking — I tried yesterday, but decided I wasn’t really dressed for a swim and came back into the building. Walking the halls just isn’t the same thing.
When I was growing up in Richmond, there was one station (WANT/990) which was aimed directly at the Black community. I never listened to it. But the top-40 station (WLEE/1480) played a lot of music from Black artists (especially those who recorded for Motown), mixed in with the rest of their playlist.
Listening to Soul Street today reminded me of those days — I heard many familiar artists and songs which I’d heard often on WLEE — and which, for the most part, I hadn’t heard since.
There were some clunkers, but in general, Soul Street was good listening today (though they lost me when they went to a half-hour of Black History Month celebration — I was looking for music, not documentary programming). I’ll be back, but for fairly small doses; I like my soul music mixed in with other formats, not as an exclusive diet.
After my brief visit to The Torch earlier today, it was time to catch up on the last channel I’d missed while in France — The Heart.
The Heart’s programming theme is very simple and straightforward: all love songs, all the time. They stretch it as far as playing “breakup songs”, but that’s as far as they go. And they lived up to their claims, at least during the time I was listening.
I could see coming back here once in a while (and it might make better background music for activities other than sitting in my office, writing Python code), but it’s not likely to be one of my frequent stops.
I had considered skipping these channels, since I’m Jewish and have no interest in the message that these channels are preaching, but I decided to tune in anyway and hear what the music sounded like as music, independent of the content.
So, with that disclaimer, let me say that listening to The Torch reminded me a lot of my visits to KISS-XM and Top 20 on 20. I’m giving it the same rating I gave those channels, too. And, like those channels, I won’t be back.
The Loft is yet another channel which attracted me to XM, and yet another channel I hadn’t gotten around to spending any time with before Bootcamp.
I have mixed feelings about this channel — I enjoyed the music and the comments from the knowledgeable and personable DJs, but I would have enjoyed them even more if I’d been able to focus on the radio instead of work; as it was, the channel was somewhat distracting.
So I’ll be back, but probably at a time when I can pay attention to the music instead of other things.
I was out of the country when Bootcamp visited Caricia; I finally got around to listening today.
Even though I took three years of Spanish in high school, I couldn’t understand the lyrics to any of the songs (I’d get a few odd words, but nothing useful). Ignoring the lyrics, the music was pleasant, but no more than that — the arrangements tended to be lusher than I like, and the tempo was generally a bit slower than I’d prefer. But I guess that makes sense, given the positioning of this channel as featuring soft, romantic and pop ballads.
As I was typing this note, I heard an announcement from the channel’s program director explaining that it was “in transition”, and apologizing for any inconvenience, so perhaps it’ll be different in a few days. Or weeks.
I might drop by again sometime, but not often.
In general, I’m not a big fan of talk radio. All-news formats, such as KCBS/740 are fine (at least until they start repeating stories), and some topical talk shows, like Car Talk, can be fun or useful.
But the typical talk show, where the host has an agenda, and the callers are either sycophants who agree, or idiots who are trying to argue the inarguable by disagreeing, is not my favorite listening matter.
But I gave it a try anyway today, when Bootcamp visited Ask!. I listened to some of the Glenn Beck show, some of Dave Ramsey, a bit of Rusty Humphries, and a little of Bruce Williams — none of them changed my opinion of the talk show format.
I guess I might potentially listen again, if I had XM in my car and I was falling asleep while driving and thought that being irritated would keep me awake. But other than that, I don’t expect to return.
Today’s stop was 20 on 20, where the listeners pick 20 songs from a list of about 40 current hits, and XM plays them; this cycle repeats every 90 minutes or so, ad nauseum.
Nausea set in pretty quickly. Before I gave up, I was “treated” to Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, and, of course, Hilary Duff — a threesome I could do without. And there were other hits, too, none of which I enjoyed. But, to 20 on 20’s credit, they didn’t talk non-stop about Hilary Duff, unlike Radio Disney.
I had low expectations for this channel — I wasn’t disappointed. And I won’t be back.
When I went to Israel for the first time, back in 1997, I spent Shabbat at the Dan Panorama hotel in Tel Aviv. I intended to go to services on Friday night, but I didn’t know where to find a Reform shul, so instead, I found myself wandering along the beach and Hayarkon Street (adjacent to the beach). My meandering took me to the Sheraton Tel-Aviv, where a big crowd of twenty-ish folks was spending Shabbat evening at the Tango Club, dancing frenetically to music with a very distinct thumping beat. I listened for a while, then walked on — it wasn’t what I was looking for on my first Shabbat in Israel.
Today’s Bootcamp channel, The System, might well have played some of the same music I heard that night. It certainly had the same energy.
And, much to my surprise, I kept listening to The System all day — it was good music to program to, and even to have on in the background during a couple of phone calls. It’s a good thing I don’t use a touchpad, though, because I kept tapping my hands and feet to the rhythm all day long!
I don’t know if I’d want to listen to this kind of music as a foreground activity, but I might well return here on a day when I can use an infusion of energy.