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94.7fm KNRK – Give us Feedback? Then "#YouFail"

August 24, 2009 27 comments
94.7 fm KNRK

94.7 fm KNRK

At times I’ve been a vocal critic of the direction 94.7 fm KNRK . Over the past year they’ve changed their format, fired some of their key on air staff (most notably Tara Dublin, their only female dj) and changed the way they participate in the community.

Last September I wrote a piece in response to some of this entitled KNRK – It’s Absolutely Not Different Here. I wrote it as a listener, a life long fan of music and as someone who believed that Portland, Oregon should have a vibrant and significant alternative radio station.

While driving my kids in the car the other day I happened to switch over to Z100 (at the sole request of my kids). I was amazed at just how much new music I was hearing.  I’ll admit that Z100’s fare isn’t my genre of choice, but I couldn’t help but recognize just how much ‘new’ I was hearing and just how much that was lacking on 94.7.  For the record, I don’t think  new music = good music.  But growing up on alternative radio I’ll never forget the experience of hearing something new, exciting, and different.

I remember sitting in my car on an extremly cold December morning (in Ithaca, New York) listening as the radio station played “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the very first time. I sat in 15 degree cold, idling my car in the driveaway just listening, realizing just how amazing the new song Iwas hearing was.

I do think that artists like David Bowie, Iggy Pop, XTC and even Bob Marley have their place in the rotation of a modern rock station. But when they make up the vast percentage of music on that station, you leave little room for the genre to move forward, for local bands to find their audience and for anything significant to happen.

But this isn’t just about the music on 94.7fm. It’s what happened when I expressed my frustration to them:

94.7fm Feedback

Now keep in mind 94.7fm is a station which has built its brand on listener feedback. They run daily promos with listener feedback and encourage people to tell them what they think. The thing is, this seems to only apply if what you say is positive.

#youfail from KNRK

I was shocked. Was an Entercom-owned radio station’s official twitter account name calling because I expressed my frustration with the lack of new music?!

Since this exchange was happening on the eve of the station’s big benefit concert “Pet Aid”, with proceeds going to Dove Lewis, I replied.

For Chairty

Again I was met with downright hostility:

No For Dove Lewis

I’ll spare all the back and forth, but the capper to me was:

blahblahblah

I emailed Mark Hamilton, 94.7fm’s program director, who seemed to be as befuddled by the interaction as I was. His response:

Neither our Facebook or Twitter accounts are meant to be a forum for a back and forth with a listener.

And yet, nothing really has been done about it.

I’m writing about this interaction not because I think I’m right. There are many people out there who want a station that plays more classic alternative music than new music.  Also the economics of a radio station have changed dramatically over the years, making it harder for art and creativity to have a place over commerce (look at Indie 103’s demise on the airwaves as an example).

The lesson here is that a company’s twitter and facebook pages ARE its face to its customers/listeners.  DJ Squid (@squidvicious, who is also appearantly the person behind @947fm)  literally lambasted me for my feedback and he did it AS 947fm.

All businesses will have their critics, some of them more harsh than others, but businesses can never go on the attack against them. You can’t on one hand ask for feedback and then another chastize people for their feedback when they say something you don’t like, or in a way you don’t prefer.

With iPhones, iPods, Pandora and so many other ways of consuming music, radio stations – especially local radio stations – can only really survive if they have some sort of relevant relationship with their listeners. Firing DJs, lambasting people on twitter and dropping support for local non-profits isn’t the way to build that relationship, it’s the way to kill it.

So I’ll move on, like so many other people, I’ll flip the radio to AUX and plug in my iPhone. I’ll stream KEXP (or OPBMusic) while I work and wait patiently for KZME to launch.

I’m convinced that someday Portland will have a truly amazing local radio station committed to being the alternative. It’s clear that 947fm isn’t it.

Relevant links:

Categories: Music Tags:

Sunday Parkways in Portland

August 14, 2009 1 comment
Sunday Parkways Aug 16

Sunday Parkways Aug 16

I’ve lived in Portland for seventeen years, and of all the events, activities and festivals I’ve attended in the city, one of my absolute favorite is Sunday Parkways. The event is extraordinarily simple: several miles of urban roads are closed to cars and become the playground for bikes, pedestrians, strollers, roller bladers, unicyclists, anything BUT motorized vehicles.  This year the Portland Office of Transportation in conjunction with ORBike and Metro have set three Sunday Parkways in three different neighborhoods of Portland. I missed the first one on June 21st in North Portland (and am now kicking myself for missing it), but did manage to attend the one on July 19th in North East Portland and it was exceptional.

In addition to over 7 miles of closed streets the Sunday Parkways also features mini park fests along the way with food, entertainment, activities and free bike servicing.  The third and final Sunday Parkways of the year takes place in Southeast Portland on Sunday August 16th from 9am to 4pm.  Unlike other cycling events in Portland (like Providence Bridge Pedal) the Sunday Parkways event is completely free.

The Southeast route is by far the best of the three parkways with a 9 mile closed course which includes a “5 mile relatively flat loop through portions of the Buckman, Kerns, Laurelhurst, Richmond, Sunnyside neighborhoods.” and it connects to a ” second, more challenging, 4-mile Mt Tabor loop will be optional to summit the only volcano in the City limits. The route will also cross the SE Hawthorne, Division and Belmont business areas”

There is not start or finish spot for the event. You can join in at any intersection and loop in either direction.  A detailed map of the Southeast Sunday Parkways can be found here. There’s also a complete breakdown of all the vendors and events at each Sunday Parkways park (the main park stops are: Laurelhurst Park, Mt. Tabor Park, Colonel Summers Park and Sunny Side Park).  The Southeast Sunday Parkway also intersects the Hawthorne Street Fair creating one of the most unbeatable combinations of events I’ve seen in Portland.

Not only is this event free, it features a ton of goods and services which are offered free, including:  Bike Empowered complimentary bike safety checks and repairs, BTA/Safe Route To Schools kids bike fitting and training  (both at Colonel Summers Park), REI free climbing Wall and Portland Wheelman flat tire repair classes (at Laurelhurst Park).

I’m hard pressed to come up with a better example of an event that illustrates why Portland is such an amazing city, it’s absolutely not to be missed. So do yourself a favor and make your way on Sunday to this amazing event.

For more information on Sunday Parkways:

The Last Cargo Cult by Mike Daisey – A Workshop Review

August 2, 2009 No comments
The Last Cargo Cult

$20 from The Last Cargo Cult

It would be completely unfair to write a review of Mike Daisey’s newest monologue The Last Cargo Cult. Saturday’s performance of the monologue was only the third time anyone had ever seen it performed.

Mike Daisey doesn’t rehearse his material, he doesn’t write a script, and he will only perform in front of an audience.  Daisey’s monologues are living, breathing entities which morph, reorganize and change considerably over their lifecycle.

“At this point, the monologue may change up to 40% from workshop to workshop,” comments Jean-Michelle Gregory, Mike Daisey’s director, editor and wife.  She goes on to explain the painstaking process that they go through after each performance as Daisey’s notes get annotated, patched up and reorganized.

I had the opportunity to sneak a peek at Daisey’s notes for the show and they consisted of bullet-pointed words and phrases like “Uh oh” and “Getting back on the plane”.  These mile markers represent the core of the story and enable Daisey to follow tangents and connections that may spontaneously occur from night to night without worrying about how he’ll get back on track. As an audience member, the experience of witnessing Daisey discovering a nugget of gold off a seemingly random tangent is indescribable.

The Last Cargo Cult may not be as polished as a work like Monopoly! , but it does have an amazing energy surrounding it, as if you can almost feel something  actively growing and building.  Seeing a work at this stage of the creative process is extremely rare; most artists shy away from showing anything that isn’t completely done or perfected.  This isn’t to say that The Last Cargo Cult isn’t already an extraordinarily enjoyable, insightful and hilarious monologue – it is.  The imperfections act in many ways like a beauty mark on a stunning model and add to the experience of seeing it live and grow.

As I promised, this isn’t a review of The Last Cargo Cult. I won’t tell you why I was handed $20 by the usher as I entered the theater, what happens on the little island of Tana, what the John Frum Movement worships or what exactly fiat currency means.  These are all part of the amazing journey of Mike Daisey’s The Last Cargo Cult, a monologue which is set to have an extraordinary life including three weekends of workshops in Seattle, a premiere at Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, a run at the Playmakers Repertory Theatre in Chapel Hill, and a prime-time spot in December at the Public Theater.

I will tell you that Mike Daisey has become one of the preeminent monologists alive today. If Mike Daisey finds his way into a city you’re in, you should jump on the opportunity to see him. The workshop performance of The Last Cargo Cult sold out in a couple of days and I expect the next time he comes to town it will be even faster.

Here’s the tour current tour schedule for Mike Daisey’s The Last Cargo Cult:

Aug. 1 at 8 PM at the Wieden+Kennedy Atrium in Portland, OR
Aug. 7-22 at 8 PM at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, WA
Sept. 4-13 at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in Philadelphia, PA
Sept. 16-20 at the Playmakers Repertory Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC
Sept. 24-25 at the Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, AK
Sept. 29-30 at the The Whitehorse Centre in Whitehorse, YT Canada
Oct. 2-3 at The Banff Centre in Banff, AB, Canada
Oct. 9-11 at The Gamm Theatre in Providence, RI
Dec. 3-13 at the Public Theater in New York, NY
Jan. 11-Feb. 7, 2010 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC
March 4-8 at the WaterTower Theatre in Dallas, TX
March 19-April 11 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA
April 26-May 9 at the Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, IL

Aug
1 at 8 PM at the Wieden+Kennedy Atrium in Portland, OR
Aug. 7-22 at 8 PM at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, WA
Sept. 4-13 at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in Philadelphia, PA
Sept. 16-20 at the Playmakers Repertory Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC
Sept. 24-25 at the Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, AK
Sept. 29-30 at the The Whitehorse Centre in Whitehorse, YT Canada
Oct. 2-3 at The Banff Centre in Banff, AB, Canada
Oct. 9-11 at The Gamm Theatre in Providence, RI
Dec. 3-13 at the Public Theater in New York, NY
Jan. 11-Feb. 7, 2010 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC
March 4-8 at the WaterTower Theatre in Dallas, TX
March 19-April 11 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA
April 26-May 9 at the Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, I

For more information on Mike Daisey and The Last Cargo Cult:

Categories: Theater Tags: ,