(in other words, it’s an easy way for me to share ideas, views, opinions, links and whatever else comes to mind)
But before I do that, here’s a playlist from a recent Cutting Edge Countdown (Sundays, 6-7 pm):
Girls, Guns and Glory - "All the Way Up To Heaven" from their disc Good Luck
Boo Ray and "Let the Cards Fall"
Deanna Carter returns with "Do Or Die"
John Hiatt from Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns and "Adios to LA"
Court Yard Hounds and "The World Smiles" from Amelita
Kalisha Ewing and her song "Whatever"
Sheryl Crow's "Callin' Me When I'm Lonely"
Jimmer Podrasky of the cult band The Rave-Ups - hish first disc in 30 years is called The Would-Be Plans; the track is "The Far Left Side of You" (google Jimmer to read his incredible story)...
Delbert McClinton's classic track "Victim of Life's Circumstances"
Johnny Cash and his newly rediscovered track "She Used top Love Me A Lot" (video on the home page of this website!)
his stepdaughter Carlene Carter and her song "Little Black Train" off the disc Carter Girl
and another Girls' Guns and Glory tune from Good Luck called (God knows why) "Centralia PA"
…more Cutting Edge Countdown this Sunday at 6 pm!
So here’s the deal – I have been working with the Bear since mid-1994. Through my company, dk associates, I sell, write, create and voice commercials; select the “cutting edge” music you hear; and work with the president of the corporation (my incredible wife, Karyn) to present the Bear as our contribution to the community.
So many listeners have called to ask why they hear different music on WQBR, and want to know why we sound the way we do. The answer is – because we want to. Part of that is pragmatic – our transmitter is located in Clinton County, 30 miles from both Williamsport to the east and State College to the west. Every other country radio station in this area is owned by a huge conglomerate (Backyard Broadcasting, Forever Broadcasting and Clear Channel). We’re the little guy, and we have to catch your ear.
Corporate radio is awful – it lacks creativity, it’s predictable and boring. Why? – because large corporations have to worry about their stock price; have to deliver value to their shareholders. The easiest way to do that is to play the top hits and avoid any controversy.
Lots of people like that kind of radio. I don’t.
I grew up in Northern New Jersey during the sixties and early seventies, a great time for radio. Click the dial and I could hear legends – Dan Ingram and Cousin Brucie on WABC; Don Imus on WNBC; William B. Williams on WNEW; Vin Scelsa, Jonathon Schwartz and Allison Steele (the Night Bird) on WNEW-FM. Baseball play-by-play by Mel Allen and Red Barber for the Yankees; Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy for the Mets. Giants football with Marty Glickman. Knicks basketball with Marv Albert (he could have been wearing panties, I don’t know). Howard Cosell, Speaking of Sports. And Jean Shepherd on WOR, the greatest storyteller of them all.
Every one of them geniuses in communicating emotion – they could make you sad, excited, happy or mad – often all within a minute. That’s what makes radio the most intimate of all media – it sparks your imagination, paints pictures in your mind.
Corporate radio has none of the magic that radio can, and should, provide. Jocks (I’m sorry – “air personalities”) hype the latest “no way in heck you’re gonna win” station contest, their next personal appearance, give you the time and weather ad nauseum, and try hard to be funny without offending anyone – all in thirty to forty-five seconds. And don’t forget the station slogan/call letters – repeated every time a song ends and before a commercial starts.
I want more from a radio station – and at the Bear, we try to provide it.
I have depended upon radio to pay my bills for a long time – it was forty-one years this past August. Karyn has been on-air all over New Jersey, in Allentown and in Philadelphia. We’ve both worked for more idiots than we can count. So when we looked at what we had to offer the community, it was really easy to eliminate anything that ever bugged us about the radio business – the pretentious attitudes, egos and power trips.
Bottom line – anyone that spends too much time sitting in a small room by themselves talking to unseen people is liable to have trouble communicating face-to-face with real humans.
Any company that forces their salespeople to attend two meetings a day (in the morning and in the evening), and judges their value to the business simply by how much money they bring in on a day-to-day basis instead of how much they are helping their clients is not a company I want to be associated with.
So at WQBR/BearCountry, we’ve thrown all of the things you’re “supposed to do” out the window. The experts would say we’re nuts, but it sounds good to us – and we hope you like it, too.
It starts with the music. Radio started depending on audience research in the mid-70′s, basically to allow lazy schmucks to keep their jobs by protecting their own posteriors. Program directors (the guys who choose the music) want to depend on research because they don’t trust their own “gut” feeling about the music they play. Further, radio is now rife with “arrangements with independent record promoters” that in many cases dictate what songs are heard and when.
Hey, say a lot of us – listen to SiriusXM! Wow, it’s exciting to hear different songs, and no commercials! Sure…for now. If you’re looking for SiriusXM satellite radio to be our saviour, I’m sorry – with this unholy union, expect fewer channels and less variety – no matter what they say. And with Howard Stern’s move to satellite, the “experts” predicted the death of commercial radio. Hardly – only ten percent of Howard’s 12 million person audience followed him when he moved, and those venture capitalists who have spent well over 10 BILLION dollars on sat radio are looking for a return on their investment – now that they have reached profit status, do you think anything is going to change?
Good ol’ commercial radio has already weathered the coming of black and white television, wide-screen movies, color television, vcrs, cable television (remember “music choice”?), home computers, dvds, cell phones, broadband internet service and internet radio. We’ll still be here – just like always. With more competition, of course. So we have to be smarter to keep your interest.
Satellite radio is already running commercials on some of their channels, and they’re in the process of raising rates (again). Congress wants to impose decency standards, and they may have the votes to do it. With the money guys screaming and politicians getting involved, satellite radio will revert to standard corporate nature. SiriusXM has already streamlined the programming, eliminating dual channels and stifling creativity, and will eventually add commercials to most of their programming (because subscription rates alone won’t cover the costs). Without any competition, they won’t take any more chances. So much for the promise of satellite radio. Internet radio? Pandora? Jury’s still out – we shall see.
But let’s talk about us – what makes the Bear special? For one thing, we actually listen to the music we choose, and play what we think is the best of what we find. These songs aren’t necessarily the latest hits, and you may have never heard of the artists. But there is a revolution going on in the music industry right now, and WQBR is on the cutting edge of that battle. The fight is over integrity – the value of the music to you.
Let me explain. Along with the consolidation in the radio industry (where large companies own huge blocks of stations), there has also been a consolidation in the record industry, leaving just three major companies. These labels are out to make huge stars and to sell millions of records, not to take the time to nurture new artists or support those musicians whose work sells moderately. Once again, to return value to the stockholders and allow the company to get even bigger. And with the success of American Idol and The Voice, every format is starting to sound so much the same you can’t tell them apart.
So what happens to all of the artists who still make great music but can’t get record label support? Often, they travel all over the country and sell their work out of the trunk of their cars. They play anywhere, anytime, to anybody who wants to hear them. They use the internet to communicate with their fans, many of whom they know personally. And they are always thankful that radio stations like WQBR/BearCountry give them exposure.
We don’t think that great music should be ignored. So we play it, and we list it on this website (under cutting edge artists) and give you a link to learn more about them and possibly, buy their discs.
You’ll hear comedy on the Bear – anytime, when you least expect it. Why? Because radio is supposed to catch your ear – that’s supposed to be part of the medium’s appeal.
You’ll hear opinion and satire on the Bear with Earl Pitts, Uhmerikan (every day @ 7:40 am and 5:15 pm) and The Onion Radio News (every day @ 6:40 am; 9:15 am and 6:15 pm). Don’t miss Stacy Cohen with “Consumer Affairs” (weekday mornings @ 9:50 am) – find out what products to avoid and how to get satisfaction when you buy something that does not perform as promised Get the most up-to-date NASCAR news, too – The Final Lap with Kerry Murphey, weekdays @ 10:40 am and 7:40 pm).
You’ll hear the latest cutting edge songs on the Bear throughout the week (plus a full fivehours of them every weeknight from midnite – 5 am and six hours weekends from midnite – 6 am – we call it Americana Overnight); plus the Cutting Edge Countdown, Sundays 6 – 7 pm, Altville with Buzz Brainard every Sunday from 11 am ’til 1 pm, and then again from midnite to 2 am. You’ll remember the country hits of the past when you listen to the Country Oldies Show with Steve Warren Sundays 7 pm – 10 pm) and Classic Country Jamboree from 10 'til midnite. And you’ll hear the latest hits from your favorites like – well, you know -
LukeBlakeMirandaAlanGarthTriciaMartinaRebaSarahDierksKennyTimFaith etc. etc. etc.
The Bear brings you AP Network News at the start of every hour. Other stations won’t, because they believe that playing more music will lead to higher ratings. Karyn and I believe that after the horror of September 11, 2001, the ongoing fight against terror all over the world and the quest to save our nation from bankruptcy you want to know what’s happening, up-to-the-minute, ratings be damned.
And we try to help those less fortunate, with the annual Bear Country Christmas Wish in November/December, and the Bear Bash, our free, listener-appreciation party Labor Day weekend.
Bottom line – we haven’t forgotten that we are a small business, just like thousands of others throughout this area. We want to join together with all of them, and help them grow; because as they succeed, we succeed.
The Bear can be heard all over our allowable coverage area – the most populated parts of Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties. Our original broadcast tower was destroyed by fire in November, 1999, and it took until late October 2002 to find a suitable replacement. We finally did, and you can now hear WQBR everywhere from Boalsburg to Milton (yes, the signal will be scratchy in some areas – blame the freakin’ mountains that surround our beautiful valleys!)
In fact, we are actually creating a new shopping/living area of dominant influence (ADI), as WQBR is the first and only station to cover this particular section of real estate (we just call it “Bear Country”). So tell your friends about us – and keep listening for more of what you should expect out of a radio station.
more as I think of it…..