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Posts Tagged ‘FM Radio’

Long-way-thereWritten by Graeham Goble on June 2, 1972.  Nearly 40-years ago!

Only in his early 20’s when he left home in Adelaide to pursue a music career in Melbourne, Australia.  He became home sick and initially traveled back and forth by car every three weeks to see his family.  The trip often took over 9 hours and the idea for the song came from one of those long trips home.

This is all a set-up for that moment in the fall of ’76 when I was driving through the snow covered heartland of North Dakota and heard this song for the first time.  One of the things you’ll notice about North Dakota is how proud NoDaks are of their state.  Another thing you notice is how geographically diverse North Dakota is. It’s of course flat in most parts, but intermixed with a lot of rolling hills and green. And there are sections of the state that have buttes as far as the eye can see.

But, I’ve digressed.

Nodak-RGIt was the early days of FM radio.  You remember radio without advertisements, right?!  And I hear these swirling strings and then cappella harmonies and the track proceeds to positively rock out.  For nearly 10-minutes!  The youth of today have never heard a song uninterrupted for 10-minutes on radio.

I’m talking about the song, “It’s A Long Way There” by The Little River Band (LRB).

“People on the road are getting nowhere
I’m on the road to see
If anything is anywhere and waiting just for me”

It’s one of those songs that sounds as great today as the day it was released.

LRB-Album CoverI came home, ripped off the album shrinkwrap and dropped the needle and…  with big speakers, and large amps you could actually see the instruments come alive in the speakers.  In those days it was not an earbud nation!

What I truly enjoyed most about the seventies music was it wasn’t cookie-cutter.  There was even a time I thought I had a future in music.  It was really a long way to where I was going.  Sometime I’ll tell you my history, because I haven’t been writing this blog drivel forever and it took me years to find a niche.

That was 1976 and now, in 2013, LRB is still touring the U.S., but sadly with NO original members. Through a bizarre legal situation, the original members lost the rights to the ‘Little River Band’ name and Trademark.  Now it’s Birtles, Shorrock and Goble (BSG).

Harley’s touring bikes are built for American roads and as you lollop along with the engine thudding crank up  LRB, and “It’s A Long Way There”.  It’s an exquisitely recorded gem from the good ‘ol days that is a perfect companion for that road trip playlist. HERE is a more recent performance.

Check it out.

Photo’s taken by the author, album cover courtesy of LRB.

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As an “oldster” I remember a time when automobiles (or motorcycles for that matter) didn’t come standard with FM radios.

Back in 1978, KINK FM ran entire vinyl album sides without a break.  The year prior they added Les Sarnoff as Music Director.  And I remember waiting in the car to hear songs end so that I could learn who the artist was or determine if it was a new release. I haven’t done that in 20 years with any commercial station.    Why?

Advertising.

The ad machine ensures there are 26 minutes of ads every hour and in this diminishing musical content/increased ad model every radio station has made changes – for the worst in my view – with huckster ads interrupting the music and snake-oil voices peddling foreclosed houses or bankruptcy evasion schemes leaving listeners with airwave SPAM just like late night TV.  Thank the FCC, which allowed Clear Channel and Entercom to acquire anyone, in turn they fired the music programmers and dialed up the wattage on the commercial noise in cookie-cutter repetition for every market – and play the same crappy 25 song sets 24×7.

As for AM radio, I suspect that most people under 40 never press the “band” button unless they want to hear “talk” stations degrade us with their vulgarity.  So, it would seem there is a market for satellite programming, but of course the niche listener/technology shifts are affecting all media outlets ad revenue and some are struggling more than others.  Services such as XM/Sirius are essentially replacing what used to be the independent small market radio.  Satellite radio is a lot like FM in the ’70s where stations varied considerably and few advertisements crept in.  But that’s a changing as many of us have witnessed and complained about on our so-called $15 monthly “commercial-free” service.

Satellite radio for motorcycles up until recently was only available by third-party suppliers as radio add-on kits.  Back in 2005 Harley-Davidson announced a partnership with XM and a year later offered an aftermarket solution based on the Road Tech AL20.  Then all the major motorcycle manufactures started to offer up satellite radio as part of the standard audio systems.  H-D made it standard on many touring motorcycles as part of the Advanced Harmon/Kardon Audio System or as kit upgrade.  In the fall of 2007, Kawasaki partnered with XM and made satellite radio standard on the Vulcan 1600 Nomad touring models.  Honda was also quick to jump on the trend.

XM/Sirius provides little detail on their listener stats.  They provide stats on the number of overall subscribers, but they don’t release demographics or detail subscription numbers by vehicle type or channel.  That makes it impossible to get public information on the number of motorcycle subscribers.  In fact, many of the GPS (Garmin, RadioTech, Zumo etc.) have satellite radios built in, but again there is no subscriber info.  I’d like to analyze a consumer breakdown because I suspect that less than 5% of the satellite enable radios on motorcycles have an active subscription.

So how do you roll?  Whenever, wherever 150 channels of information and entertainment have to be at your side?  Or are you there to experience the ride with all your senses intact?  Do you want the freedom to listen to commercial-free music while crisscrossing the country or are you out there to enjoy a quiet ride?

Don’t know what a satellite radio is?  Then more info on a XM Satellite Motorcycle Antenna HERE and nothing like an endorsement from OCC’s Paul Jr. who states satellite radio is “cushy” HERE.

Photo courtesy of H-D

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