After four days of playing mind-numbing and vapid Top 10 pop songs "over and over and over," to the point of nausea, Carmel radio station KRML fessed up and admitted it was just a stunt. The joke was to get attention for its real cause: to offer the Central Coast a true community radio station that isn't controlled by corporate hacks and computer ratings.
So Monday morning KRML revealed its true colors, to be a radio station that will not only offer rock, blues, soul, pop and jazz, but local news and weather, food and wine, local politics and other lifestyle shows.
And they won't be playing Top 40 (I swear I'll become a better person if I never have to listen to "Gangnam Style" again!) or even the most familiar tunes by a particular artist.
For example, on Tuesday, instead of playing Led Zeppelin's by now almost-cliche "Stairway to Heaven," the station played the lesser-known but equally potent "Gallows Pole."
That afternoon I listened to an amazingly diverse and intriguing list of artists and songs, from the familiar (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Cheap Trick, The Police) to the somewhat familiar (The Alarm, Lana Del Rey, Fiona Apple, Live, Modest Mouse, The Black Keys) to the unfamiliar (Divine Fits, Delta Spirit, Electric Guest, Best Coast, Bat for Lashes), well, at least to me.
I'm not sure I heard an artist repeated all day, although on Wednesday someone there must have an affinity for Pete Yorn (I like Yorn too).
One listener wanted to hear a song with sitar in it, so instead of pulling out the obvious choices (Ravi Shankar? The Beatles? Strawberry Alarm Clock?), programmer Garett Michaels, a wily radio veteran who was last at FM 94/9 in San Diego, spun Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More." I had forgotten that song featured a sitar!
And if you don't want to listen to rock, the station has various channels on its website, krml.com, where jazz, classical, country, talk and news fans can go online and indulge their favorite genres. The station, which touts its new slogan "Respect for Music. Respect for You," will, as it progresses, offer showcases for local musicians and bands, shows with local personalities and reporting on popular local events, such as Pebble Beach Food & Wine, The Monterey Jazz Festival and The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, for example.
The station, which is a commercial station (but unlike any I've ever encountered), will have only local advertising and try to keep that down to five ads per hour.
As general manager Mike Hale, former Herald editor and co-worker of mine (as well as a good friend), says, the station is a "work in progress," so if you have any ideas for programing, want to volunteer, or just want to make a suggestion or request, contact him at email@example.com. Listen to the station three ways: 102.1 FM, 1410 AM or online at krml.com, which has the cleanest signal.
So far I'm extremely impressed and excited with the direction and mission of the station. I love its commitment to the community and its fearlessness in playing what people want to hear, not what they're told to play by ratings or surveys.
Welcome to the airwaves and all the best to KRML in the coming months.
OK, in the space I have left, here are some choice for this week:
· Americana singer-songwriter Mike Beck, a Monterey boy who is a true working cowboy, does his solo thing Friday night at 7:30 at The Works in Pacific Grove.
· The great swing band Glenn Miller Orchestra plays Thursdy night at 7 at the Pacific Grove Performing Arts Center.
· The country-folk band I See Hawks in LA will perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Plaza Linda in Carmel Valley. Great band, I saw them a few years ago at the now-defunct Monterey Live venue.
· Oakland's Tumbleweed Wanderers, which combines soul, folk and rock, plays Sunday night at 8 at The Golden State Theatre's lobby venue. Indie singer and multi-instrumentalist Becky Alter opens.
· Singer, songwriter and guitarist Jay Burriss returns to the London Bridge Pub at 8:30 Saturday night for another entertaining evening of music that will feature a number of his musical friends. Oddly enough, he's calling his show "Right Wing Radio, the Opera." He's also dedicating his show to Carmel artist, musician and friend to many, including me, Mark Bava, who was killed last Saturday in an auto accident in San Jose, along with his brother Chris and his wife Cat. Miraculously spared was Mark's longtime girlfriend Lynne Cook, who is also an accomplished artist.
The genial and talented Bava was a vital member of the Monterey Peninsula arts and music community, not only here, but in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and he is sorely missed. Peaceful journeys to you, brother, we love you.GO!
Eclectic world roots music band Rupa & The April FIshes plays Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz on Friday night, in a show celebrating the release of its latest album, "Build." Opening at 9 p.m. will be Gypsy swing band Beso Negro.