June 26, 1998
A couple weeks ago, I drove from Florida to Boston. The lunacy in that act
aside, I've learned that Orlando's got more to keep itself on the map
besides tourist attractions and a bid for the Olympics with Tampa and St.
Pete. That thing - radio - isn't often lauded by Central Floridians; it
probably gets more scorn than praise. After sampling most of the East coast's radio waves, however, I can assure you that Orlando radio most definitely
The stretch of I-95 between Jacksonville and somewhere in Virginia is pure
hell on earth: all country, all the time. It sucks. Cassette, please. And
none of the major metropolitan areas had truly great stations; I'd end up
hitting SCAN until a song I liked came on. Then back to SCAN again. Once I
got here, I discovered that Boston radio is okay. There are a bunch of
alternative stations, and a couple light rock stations, but nothing like
I grew up in Naples, which, along with all of Southwest Florida, is about
five years behind in all genres of media. A pop station there usually
follows a "here's more new music" jingle with a song from Marky Mark or some
other has-been group. It's horrible.
So when I came to school in Central Florida, I started drooling as I turned
the FM dial. (Radio is just one example of good media in Orlando: to see a
news anchor, like WESH's Claire Metz, who is capable of more than just
reading from a TelePrompter, was like finding a god on channel 2.) In
Southwest Florida, and most of the places between here (Boston) and there,
there isn't a station that plays good rock like WJRR; nor is there a station
that plays good top 40 (if there is such a thing), a la XL 106.7. Howard
Stern is the only unoriginal thing about Real Radio 104.1 and its selection
of actually non-franchise - or non-franchise copying - talk shows. And there
sure as hell isn't anything like SHE, which occupies a well-pressed preset
button on my radio.
I know: one of the major complaints leveled at Orlando radio (and media,
too) is that it's all owned by money-hungry corporations. True. But it's
also true that Clear Channel - the folks who bought Bud Paxson's ubiquitous
Orlando radio empire - oversees a group of high-quality stations. Maybe that
corporatization is actually the reason for the diversity on the air: to keep
their stations from competing against one another, they diversify their
playlists and formats. Real Radio and SHE are the type of stations that aren
't found in every town.
Besides, the radio outside of the Clear Channel umbrella is great, too:
Daytona's alternative station WKRO rocks, as does WPRK. Even AM stations don
't suck: WDBO and 540 The Team (yeah, Clear Channel again) earn their
If the International Committee for the Olympic Games brings the world to
Orlando for the Olympics, at least the world will have something to listen
to while they are sitting in their cars, stopped dead on I-4.
I spend much of my time deconstructing my surroundings by writing. Other
diversions: crossing the line, sucking down caffeine-laced
carbonated beverages, pen fighting with the staff of the paper I edit, listening intensely to
SHE 100.3, and analyzing my world with an overuse of superlatives. Also
find me here.
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