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October 10, 2012

101.9 FM, WRXP - Alternative Rock to Sports Talk. Why?

by robert hashemian @ 3:03 pm
Filed under: music — Tags: , ,

I was so happy when 101.9 in New York finally switched from the news format to alternative rock a few months. I only listen to that station and NPR in my car.

Now CBS has bought the station and will be simulcasting vapid sports talk with their AM station. Is there really a need for more boring talk radio stations, and sports of all formats? In New York, Another Setback for Rock Radio.

There's plenty of that on the AM dial, but no good alternative rock stations around, other than perhaps 104.1 WMRQ in Hartford, CT and that's too far.

I sure will miss the music on 101.9 and to the guys that made it happen, if only for a short period, thank you.

July 23, 2011

Beavis and Butthead Return

by robert hashemian @ 3:58 pm
Filed under: music,social — Tags: ,

Beavis and Butthead, the cartoon series about two mischievous, conniving, simpletons in high school is coming back on MTV in October. We're not talking the reruns of the old episodes that ended nearly 15 years ago. These are brand new episodes with the original creator, Mike Judge, at the helm and still doing the voices of the juvenile delinquents.

When the first round of Beavis and Butthead shows began in 1993, I was in my mid-20's, well outside the age sweet spot of the show. Still I became a big fan as many others in my age range.

I wondered how good the new episodes could possibly be. I don't know, maybe I haven't grown much since those days, or maybe my sense of humor is still juvenile, or maybe the show is just that good. Whatever the case, I laughed during the entire clip below, giving the fans a taste of the new episodes. All I can say is, heh …heh …heh, cool, heh heh this rules, heh heh … heh.

July 10, 2011

Running to Music

by robert hashemian @ 9:27 pm
Filed under: law,music,running-hiking

This article (Jogging to music? Unplug for a safer workout) states the obvious by claiming that runners who listen to music pose a threat to themselves by becoming less aware of road dangers such as traffic or criminals.

There's also an additional claim that iPod runners, being distracted, may miss their body signals to speed up or slow down, thereby missing out on an optimum workout as well as being oblivious to small injuries that may require them to stop.

As a long-time, music-free runner (over 2 decades), I agree with both assessments. Many times on my running routes I come across narrow roads, blind curves, fast cars, sirens, and unfriendly dogs. In many cases I can navigate these challenges easily because I can hear a car noise or some commotion ahead. I can't imagine how I would face all these obstacles with music blaring in my ears.

The article is also correct about the distraction caused by music. I tried running to music a couple of time some years ago. In those cases I felt less in touch with body and the runs were much less enjoyable. Guess I'm the type that likes full sensory involvement in the running activity. I actually run for its pure enjoyment, not for the health benefits, so why drown my mind in music while running?

The part of the article I have a problem with is the governments wanting to force runners to shed their ear buds. This is such a ludicrous violation of personal freedom. I don't run with music but many runners do. Leave us alone. Instead perhaps concentrate on catching speeding cars. I mean where will this lead? Jogging police checking our shoes for correct fit, checking clothing for appropriate layers, or checking our hydration levels?

I can only see the court systems clogged with running felons 🙂

May 30, 2011

Radio Golha - Traditional Persian Music

by robert hashemian @ 11:01 pm
Filed under: music — Tags: ,

When I was a young boy growing up in Iran, a favorite radio program of my maternal grandfather was Golha, a variety program on radio consisting of traditional Persian music. My grandfather would take a little rest after lunch and listened to this program in its entirety.

And as I wasn't exactly a quiet kid, getting into all kinds of loud mischief, I was forced to sit quietly and listen to the Golha program along with my grandfather. To say that this was torture for me would be an understatement. How could anyone enjoy such music?

Fast-forward a few decades and I often find myself listening to this program on the RadioGolha.com web site. The radio program has long been gone and many of the musicians are no longer alive, but thanks to the dedication of the RadioGolha.com's webmaster, the old episodes are streamed back to life continuously.

Traditional Persian music is not everyone's cup of tea. I certainly didn't think it was mine either. But listening to this music now magically connects me to the land of my ancestors and to my grandfather who passed away years ago. Rest in peace Agha Joon, and thank you for the unwitting gift of traditional Persian music.

August 30, 2010

Emergency Pleasure Droid

by robert hashemian @ 11:45 am
Filed under: google,music — Tags: , ,

pleasure droid

Still shot from 'You are the Girl' - The Cars

Apparently The Cars knew about Droid back in 1987 and seems like their version was more fun that Google's smartphone version of today 🙂

Yep, that's Ric Ocasek getting ready to unleash the "Pleasure Droid". If only the product and the song were released at the same time. Google and Motorola could have used this clip to promote their Droid platform.

May 27, 2010

Big Band Online

by robert hashemian @ 10:28 pm
Filed under: music — Tags: , ,

A few days ago I was looking for a good Big Band/Swing station (you know, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, etc.) online and was striking out all over the place until Google dropped me on GotRadio.com.

I haven't tried their other stations but their Big Band channel has won me over. Good variety, simple and polished site design, and no login required. All good things will end but for now GotRadio.com has my gratitude. Benny Goodman is playing as I type this.

Keep on swinging …

March 16, 2010

Jogging Tragedy

by robert hashemian @ 10:38 pm
Filed under: music,running-hiking

I happened on this story today about a 38-year old father who was struck and killed from behind by a small plane making an emergency landing. As a fellow jogger and a father I found the story saddening and I wish his family the best as they cope with the terrible loss.

What made this tragedy sobering is the fact that it didn't have to end this way for him. You see, the jogger was listening to his iPod and obviously didn't hear the approaching plane scraping the ground behind him. There's a good chance that he would have otherwise gotten out of the way and he'd be alive today.

The story is by no means unique. A couple of years ago a local race I participate in banned the use of earbuds and headphones because in a prior race a runner had collapsed and the paramedics had had a hard time reaching him weaving around the inattentive runners listening to their iPods.

Personally I don't like to run with music blaring in my ears. It's not for the sake of safety although that's a fortunate side-effect. I had tried running while listening to music a couple of times and hadn't enjoyed the experience. I'm much happier taking in the sights and sounds of my surrounding areas, including everything that happens around me while I jog.

I can understand that for some people music is a mandatory part of their exercise. In that case don't let the death of the jogger mentioned above be in vain. Make a compromise and lower the volume enough so your ears can at least pick up loud sounds such as a horn, a siren, or a crash happening just behind you. It could save your life or the life of someone in desperate need of immediate attention.

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November 11, 2009

Online Radio and Traditional Media

by robert hashemian @ 10:10 pm
Filed under: internet,music

I don't remember exactly when or why, but up until a few years ago traditional radio stations were barred from broadcasting online. I believe it had something to do with advertising rules. But then the rules were apparently relaxed and one by one the stations started broadcasting online in addition to the airwaves.

Still, internet-only broadcasters such as Pandora, Slacker or Last.fm have had a competitive edge. They have large cache of music, they play few or no commercials, and they can adapt to their listeners' tastes. But as the music industry has begun to demand royalty payments, the internet-only stations have had to adapt by playing more commercials and/or charging fees. Previously I wrote about my defection from Pandora to Slacker for that exact reason. Now I've left Slacker for traditional radio and so far have been happy.

What convinced me to make the switch? When I found a radio station that played the kind of music I like. A few weeks ago while driving to Hartford, CT to run a half-marathon, I was flipping through radio stations when I stumbled on an alternative music station (104.1 FM WMRQ, Hartford, CT) that kept me listening song after song. I thought what a shame that I couldn't get the station where I live or work.

Fortunately it wasn't long before I found that the station also broadcasts online and I've been listening ever since. Sure there are commercials and DJ interruptions and the selections are not perfectly tuned to my taste (pretty close though), but listening is as simple as clicking on a link, no logins and no fees. In fact internet-only radio isn't perfect either and they play more commercials these days anyways.

My experience speaks to a bigger issue here. To borrow a quote form Mark Twain, the reports of the traditional media's demise are greatly exaggerated. The arrival and propagation of the Internet has not necessarily just given rise to the upstarts to the detriment of the traditional companies. On the contrary, it has given the old media new means of serving their audience and also reaching new ones. The Hartford radio station is one such example whose listeners aren't necessarily within the sphere of its antenna's influence anymore.

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September 23, 2009

From Pandora to Slacker

by robert hashemian @ 10:09 pm
Filed under: internet,music

SlackerSo finally the 40-hour free listening limit per month on Pandora caught up with me. I had expected it already but still when it happened, I started to think about ways of wiggling out of paying the $1 for the remainder of the month or the $36 annual fee.

It's not so much about the money. I know nothing is free, but having grown up on FM radio I pay my dues by listening to commercials, not cracking open the wallet. In the end I opted to give Slacker a try. I chose the classic rock station and so far I'm impressed. The music is good and there is good variety. There are more commercials than Pandora, but I don't mind that.

Being a loyal kind of a person, I didn't make the switch lightly. I'd been listening to Pandora for over a year after switching from the Launchcast service by Yahoo. I had Pandora trained pretty well to play my kind of music, and recently I had noticed that Pandora was playing more variety which was a good thing.

I realize that Pandora has done its best to strike a balance between keeping its audience and paying its dues to the music industry, but in the end I decided that Slacker was a better option for me. I hope Slacker can continue with its current model to keep the music free and support itself on commercials. Maybe some day Pandora can do the same and win back some of the defectors, but for now it's goodbye to Pandora and hello to Slacker.

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July 7, 2009

Pandora Starts Charging

by robert hashemian @ 11:52 pm
Filed under: music,web

PandoraIn case you don't know who or what Pandora is, it's a music Web site that learns about your taste as you tag or rate the songs it plays, so after a while it ends up playing mostly what you like.

Pandora's algorithm is decent but far from perfect and sometimes it tries to please too much by sticking to a tight list of songs, so there are the occasional repeats. But that's fine, since the best thing about Pandora is that it's free.

But we always knew the good times wouldn't last. Last year there were a couple of emails indicating that they were haggling with the music industry on licensing issues, basically over money.

Tonight came the email outlining the results of their negotiations. It was what I had expected. Users now get 40 free hours of listening every month. If they want more, they are charged $0.99 for the remainder of each month. Or they can pay $36/year for unlimited listening.

I guess for now I'll take the 40 hours and maybe go without for the remainder of every month. The $0.99 isn't such a bad deal either, but obviously it won't last either. My feeling is that after a couple of years Pandora will phase that out and just go to a flat-fee subscription service.

No, I don't like this at all, but I try to see it from the other side's perspective. The music industry is evil, but someone must pay all the people that make their living off music, from the artists down to the janitors who shine the studio floors. Pandora deserves to make some money too, as the radio stations do. But their advertising model just doesn't command the same earnings as radio. I guess radio stations have a more targeted and captive audience.

So for now the burden of keeping Pandora alive has fallen on the listeners' shoulders. I sure hope they make it through and don't go belly up. I've grown rather accustomed to listening to it while at work.

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