As they used to say on Sesame Street, one of those things is a little bit different; one of those things is not quite the same.
What Hamilton, Oberlin, Foothills and MIT have in common is that each of them has a nifty way-cool non-commercial radio station (WHCL, WOBC, KFJC, WMBR) that streams on the web. What Clear Channel has, on the other hand, is a bunch of really shitty commercial radio stations that play over the air (I suppose Clear Channel stations may also be available on the web, but if they are, who cares? Who the hell would listen to them? The only reason to listen to commercial radio is if no broadband internet connection is available. Like, say, if you’re in a car. Or at Logan Airport. Stuck for 3 days in a freak blizzard. And World War Three has just broken out and you’re curious about what’s going on. And there is no NPR station because zombies have eaten all the NPR people.(1))
Clear Channel, in addition to owning a ton of billboards and crappy radio stations, also has an awful lot of political clout that it uses in ugly ways. KFJC, WHCL, WOBC and WMBR do not. So that’s another way that one of those things is a little bit different.
By the way, KFJC has been, for quite a while, the coolest radio station on the planet (& so immortalized in my famous novel Acts of the Apostles). WMBR (“the leftmost station on your radio dial”) has its distinct charms; I got hooked on it when I was staying in Somerville 4 days/week a few years ago. I like Bats in the Belfry, the goth music show, and French Toast, on Monday mornings, a French-language show that specializes in cheesey pop but sometimes might sneak in a little Plastic Bertrand. I listen to WHCL not only because I’m a sentimental alumnus, but also ’cause it’s cool. WOBC I found on the principle that small liberal arts colleges have good radio stations. Try it, you’ll see. (I mean, pick any random small liberal arts college and find their radio station. Chances are it will be better than any comercial or NPR station playing on your radio). I especially like WOBC’s bluegrass show. The DJ sounds as if he’s 100 years old, and he really knows his stuff. As I’m witing this, I’m listening to a hip-hop show WOBC. Don’t resist or you might miss Christmas. . .
ATTENTION MEDIA ACCESS PROJECT! HALP! HELP! HALP!
I’m still having a background-process nervous breakdown over the prospect of internet radio being eviscerated by some kind of whacky “copyrights board” that I don’t really understand, but blogged briefly about here. Harold Feld’s preliminary analysis was that the threat is real, and I heard a story on NPR last week that said the same thing. So pardon me while I panic and kind of melt down before right in front of you. If I understand things correctly, the IP Mafia is planning a big-time hit. After which internet radio will be more or less just like commerical over-the-air radio.
There’s still time to appeal the ruling (I think?), and I sure hope that the Media Access Project or Harold or somebody can give us a plan for how to stop this looming travesty. Between college radio stations and Pandora, I listen to internet radio about 50 hours each week. Only seldom, very seldom, do I hear stuff that gets played on NPR or commercial stations. Truly, internet radio is a wonderful, glorious thing. To destroy internet radio in the name of some bogus RIAA copyright horseshit would be vandalism on the scale of burning the library at Alexandria.
Anybody with any guidance about how to avert disaster, please speak up. Anybody whose name is Harold Feld of the Media Access Project who has any insight into how to mobilize to save internet radio, your advice is earnestly sought.
(1) And you don’t dare go near the TVs because the zombies are all watching CNN and FOX!