Once a predictable Alternative radio station with obnoxious DJs and a playlist that was all-too-friendly to nu-metal, 94/7 KNRK has recently undergone a vast facelift. Gone is the "Marconi Show" (after Marconi himself made national news by laughing at the tapes of beheaded hostage Nicholas Berg) and its Limp Bizkit playlist. In its place is a far more listener-friendly format that plays indie artists, features DJs that know the music and seem committed to bridging the gap between commercial radio and more widely-accepted taste-maker public radio stations likes KEXP (Seattle) and KCRW (Los Angeles). Program director Mark Hamilton talks about the change, the DJs, and Godsmack.
What brought about the change in playlist for the station?
It was time for us to move on from being an 18-24 male-targeted station. The Marconi incident, declining ratings and lack of good "product" in terms of music down on the heavier end of the Alternative spectrum signaled a change was needed. Plus a hole existed in Portland for a station that catered to a 25-44 audience that craved the variety and depth you hear now.
Are other stations nationwide following suit?
There are a handful of stations that somewhat mirror the musical diversity of 94/7--most notably Indy 103 in LA, KBZT in San Diego and The End in Seattle.
Do the DJs have any say in what they play on the air, or is it already pre-programmed?
Yes, the DJ's do have a say in what they play. Whether it's stuff they've brought in from their own collection, a local favorite artist, or a deep track they want to highlight.
The "Alternative Mornings with Sarah and Greg" program features two DJs new to radio. Were you apprehensive to bring them into the new format?
I wasn't apprehensive in the least, since the specific attributes I was looking for included "Music Heads" first and foremost, great writers, intelligent conversationalists, and genuinely likeable characters. Hopefully they've been received with open arms by people who are tired of nothing but jibber jabber on the radio every morning.
Do you feel it's a radio station's job to please all the people all the time? Are you ever fearful that a fan of The Decemberists won't be into the Offspring, or vice versa?
You can't please all people all the time and you're not going to like every song you hear. But you will be listening to a radio station that involves you in the programming, openly asks for listener input and suggestions, surprises you from time to time, and actively supports the local music community.
Would you rather play four minutes of dead air, or a Godsmack song?