These days, it seems that listening to the radio can’t really compare to listening to music on your phone. With iTunes, Pandora and Spotify letting you choose the songs and eliminating obnoxious commercials, the radio can be an annoying alternative. It is much easier to enjoy a song when you are not dreading the upcoming chant of “K-A-R-S cars for kids.” (donate your car today) Honestly, I would agree with all of these statements, if not for the exception of one radio station. Despite the long commercial breaks, 92.5 The River provides a better listening experience in my opinion than any other music medium.
The River is on a mission, a Blues Brothers-esque “mission from God,” to provide us with good music. No one is paying them to play certain things, or advertise products during the talk show. There are no high-level executives dictating what they play. They play songs because they are good and for no other reason.
Although many stations boast their variety, this station actually has it. They do not commit themselves to one style of music. They just play songs that they feel have value to them. You may hear “Uptown Funk” played in the same hour as a Bob Dylan song, and then maybe they’ll play an acoustic version and then a live version. No matter how diverse the playlists may be, the DJs always have an artistic ability to align the music so that each song flows nicely into the next. Even if the genre or age of the songs are vastly different, there is never a jarring transition as they change. The diversity of these playlists suit those who pride themselves on liking all kinds of music, but benefit the majority of us who have only been exposed to the music of our friends or our parents. The River opens you up to kinds of things you have never heard, and never would have heard if not for this station.
Another annoying aspect of listening to the radio is having to hear the trivial squabbles of the DJs. It seems they are either telling everyone a fake account of their weekend or promoting a product that they are paid to advertise. Thankfully, the DJs on The River don’t seem to follow the actions of their neighboring stations. Before a certain song is played, the DJ will provide interesting background that makes you notice more things while listening than you would have otherwise. They discuss an artist’s writing process, the meaning behind the song, or even their personal thoughts on the song. When they build up a song, they do it so genuinely that it makes you eager to listen and share in their excitement.
I would even argue that listening to The River is good for you. It opens you up to new things and broadens your horizon. It reminds us what radio DJs are supposed to do and what radio executives are not. It teaches us that broadcasting should be independent, so the only motive is to benefit listeners. In this case, the benefit to listeners is providing them with diverse, genuinely good music.