Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Seattle radio station that brings out the aggression of its listeners

Many years ago I was working on a graveyard shift job as a temp doing T-shirt printing. From a radio boomed the local radio station KUBE, which specialized then in rap/hip-hop “music.” After being subjected to this noise all night for several days, somebody decided that a change-of-station was in order, to one of the “classic rock” stations. This caused one of the permanent employees, who was Filipino, to completely lose his mind. It was observed that his complexion literally turned beet-red in rage, and some people thought he might be thinking about finding a gun somewhere and start shooting; to relieve the possibility of that happening, the station was changed back to KUBE amongst nervous laughter, and “peace” was restored. 

I have to admit that KUBE was then and still is the station whose playlist I intensely dislike. That dislike has fluctuated over the years, in relation to the level of vulgarity and tunelessness that happened to be in vogue at a particular time. I wouldn’t say that the current playlist is completely soul-destroying or obnoxious, but it remains almost mind-numbingly primitive in lyrical content, emotional context and musical acumen. And the singing? Well, it isn’t any better or worse than other “contemporary” genre, since the overuse of Autotune has roboticized what passes for the human voice into indistinguishable moronity. At this moment I am observing a white male buying some scratch tickets; he is wearing his pants in the hip-hop tradition of below his fundament, exposing his shorts, but that is another kind of moronity.

OK, maybe I will be accused by hip-hop fans of being out-of-step with the times, and worse. Well maybe so, but I remain convinced that rap and hip-hop have had a detrimental effect on the evolution of contemporary music, and social and cultural mores. I don’t care of its “real,” as it is often defended as; if it is “real,” then it testifies to the sorry state of our civilization. I have made certain observations about the typical KUBE listener, to include the following:

Tends to be unmotivated to do anything constructive, at home or work, unless they are listening to this station.

Tends to appropriate a “communal” radio for their own pleasure, regardless of what other people want to listen to.

Tends to have no regard for what other people think about their choice.

Tends to blast the radio loudly, even when they are sitting just two feet from it.

Head tends to explode when listening to anything with melodic content, like the Martians in the film Mars Attacks!.

Expects everyone to accept their “right” to monopolize the radio; if they don’t, they whine and pout and make threatening gestures until their “right” is an accepted fact.

On public transportation, usually disregard rules of volume or even using earphones.

Tends to be self-absorbed, constantly talking about what people have done to them, rather than what they have done to others. 

Tends to be absorbed by latest follies emanating from social media.

Tends to be bored or uninterested in intellectual discussions. 

Tends to be satisfied listening to same half-dozen “songs” played over and over again each hour.

Tends to become extremely defensive and insulted if challenged, especially in regard to their choice of music, leading to accusations of social animus. 

KUBE bills itself as the “hippest” station in Seattle, not that it has much competition; Seattle radio is almost completely barren of eclectic playlists; even the one station that plays Seventies and Eighties pop, “The Jet,” is mind-numbingly repetitive in its playlist, despite the fact that there are literally thousands of great songs to choose from. Frankly, the closest thing to a “hip” station is on the far end of the AM dial, the “urban contemporary” station KYIZ, which besides playing “old skool” and “new skool” R&B, actually has some politically and socially “hip” banter, obviously meant for a mature and informed audience. 

In the meantime, I’ve invested in some rubber earplugs; they may help to, but not completely, absorb the expectorations of the radio that was apparently provided for the pleasure of one person, who seems to think that everyone else—mostly immigrants—derives the same “pleasure.” If they don’t, that’s just their “problem.”

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