Last week I learned that KTSR 92.1, my favorite radio station, will be going off the air, this Thursday to be exact. It appears what happened is the station couldn’t afford to stay afloat so its owners sold it to Clear Channel Communications, who will promptly turn it into Candy 95.1, a top 40 radio station.

KTSR is the only “hard rock” station in town, so when it goes away so does that. There’s another station, 103.9 “The X”, but it’s not nearly as good – it plays some rock, but lots of alternative crap (not that all alternative is crap, just a lot of what 103.9 plays). Everything else is either country (Texas – go figure) or Top 40/Pop. Just what we need – another station like that.

I had noticed some weeks back that the rotation of the DJ’s had changed. KTSR had this thing called the “12:15 funny” that I liked to listen to over lunch, but it moved to 4:20 when the DJ who played it, Roxanne Rolls (whose name is a pun), moved slots. Turns out when they told the four main DJ’s about the change looming, two of them left, causing the others to be switched around. I used to listen to it up at work, streaming it off of the Internet, but then when the FCC (or whoever) decided that stations could be double-liable for royalties, they cut that out. I always meant to get a portable radio for work but I never got around to it. Don’t guess I need to now.

Clear Channel Communications is a corporation which makes its money owning radio stations. Specificially, it owns a little over half the radio stations in the country. To put that in perspective, most of the other stations are independently owned or owned by small companies who own a handful of stations each, a dozen or so tops. This makes CCC a behemoth in radio, and it also makes them pretty much a target of the average person. It also has the one very important aspect that to get radio stations to play music, record labels now have to make one very large corporation happy.

CCC is likened to the “Microsoft of Radio”. They drew fire in the wake of 9/11 by sending out a list of songs to their stations that they “should” avoid playing (though there was no direct order). Tom Petty specifically lambasts them in his anti-establishment concept album The Last DJ. And to make it all the more interesting, the CEO of CCC is a member of the Texas A&M Board of Regents, the Govenor-appointed governing body of Texas A&M University. He recently went on record as saying that CCC is “not a monopoly”.

But it’s still kinda sad that KTSR wound up this way. Mainly it’s sad to me that hard rock has no place on radio. I loved heavy metal in the late 80’s (or as much as a 12-year old could), and I loved hard rock in the early 1990’s. I even loved grunge when it turned to that. But somewhere between there and here rock went away, replaced by rap music which formerly complained of no attention, teenybopper queens, and boy bands. If you want to know why white guys my age hate boy bands so badly, that’s why – they killed what we like. The final straw was the cancellation of Headbanger’s Ball on MTV. How ironic then that the most popular show in years has an aging Ozzy Osbourne.

Now rock is “back”, but it’s “Nu Metal”. Suddenly I feel old. I can’t stand most of it, and I think a lot of it sounds the same. That’s one of the things I liked about KTSR – they played the good old stuff, everything from Led Zeppelin to Nirvana.

Now I won’t go on some anti-corporate tirade about how the whole commercial world sucks, I understand all that. I get why hard rock doesn’t pull in the advertiser dollars but the squeaky clean pop does. I just don’t like it. Therefore, I’ve decided that once KTSR goes off the air, that’s it. I’m not listening to radio anymore in College Station. Not that this means much – I’ll be moving to Dallas before too long (in fact some of my prospects are moving in so quickly that I was wondering last week if I’d beat KTSR out of town), but I’m not going to listen to radio anymore before I move. Given that I have hundreds of hours of music I know I like in my car, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Which of course brings up the reason it’s almost nice to not listen to radio. No more annoying commercials (a statement which of course nicely sums up why KTSR folded), no more scratchy reception, no more listening to songs I don’t like. Plus, it’s not like I was going to listen to it much longer anyway. Still, it’s an interesting listen nowadays with the DJ’s confirming the demise, discussing it with callers, and it’ll be really interesting to see what that last day is like. I wonder what they’ll play for their last song. “The Aggie War Hymn” or “Stairway to Heaven”?

Still, Candy 95.1? Could they have found a gayer, dumber name? Almost like they’re trying to be ironic.