Wallowing in the Poo-Sniffing Pit of Mediocrity | Letters | Chicago Reader

Wallowing in the Poo-Sniffing Pit of Mediocrity 

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To the editors:

I was really sad to read Mr. Wyman's article on XRT ["So Many Records, So Little Time," November 16], which basically amounted to a free 12-page advertisement for the station. There are several reasons for my feelings toward this article, most of them having to do with Bill Wyman's embracing the station as a station that has "taken chances" and succeeded, christening them with the status of underdogdom. Unfortunately, when compared to the stations that Mr. Wyman cited in his article (that in his view don't "carry the torch"), XRT stands behind them in the cause to promote new music. The other stations of similar format and relative size are much more fresh when it comes to new music, where XRT wallows in the poo-sniffing pit of mediocrity.

I do agree with the writer of the article that XRT's latest advertising campaign is indeed radical, with its preaching individuality and non-conformity. But what I see is a contradiction: XRT is going under the guise of an alternative station while still playing the same old poop (although the poop here may be an old Robert Palmer song instead of Led Zeppelin) mixed with an extremely meager amount of new music. Their skimpy placing of alternative (alternative, to XRT, usually meaning the latest 10,000 Maniacs or U2 song) music between the golden oldies after eight and their devotion of a whopping hour a week to truly "new" music hardly makes penance for the hours and hours of musically-shaped mediocrity that ultimately leave listeners, who seek new music, completely flaccid.

XRT does endorse certain artists that otherwise would be relatively obscure, such as Robert Cray and John Hiatt, but do these artists really play music that can be considered new? The endorsement of these bluesy artists, and the Chicago Blues in general, shows a contradiction to the non-conformist flare of their ad campaign. The Blues is an extremely stagnant, redundant form of music, and it is hard to promote new music while at the same time equally supporting the most progressively complacent form of music (sorry for being so highly opinionated, but I think I am speaking for a large portion of XRT's prospective audience, who are probably equally pissed off).

OK. I've come to the conclusion that XRT does indeed suck, and I think Mr. Wyman's article is equally poo-sniffing in value, so why don't I just quit complaining and just listen to tapes while I'm driving. The reason I am mad is because XRT has too much influence and power over what becomes big in the music industry; a band's success is most often seen in terms of record sales, and record sales is directly associated with air-play. In other words, XRT boosts mediocre bands (XRT always supports the safest acts, like the BoDeans, because they are so stinking marginal) into stardom, while other well-deserving bands remain shafted through the refusal of air-play. Partial blame for Chicago's relatively lame music scene can be placed on XRT as well in this area. XRT is too politically important to remain passive towards them.

It is easy to rate XRT as being "risky" when put next to CKG and the likes, but please do not honor them with the rank of supporters and promoters of new music. XRT are really very close-minded when it comes to new music, betraying the radical message of their commercials, and they appear to be oblivious to new music when they are compared to other stations of similar format. I think maybe Bill Wyman and XRT are just too darn old.

Ted Romne

A relatively young college student

Western suburbs

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