Once upon a time there was a radio station called Radio Caroline. It closed down. Then it came back and closed down many more times. It was always a commercial failure, shifting through time from a big band dominated muzak service to a pop and soul music service to a current pop service to a current progressive rock service to a soft rock oldies service to a soft pop and rock oldies service to a pop oldies and rock oldies service to its current incarnation as a rock oldies service.
During the 1970s it spent a period of time providing a current progressive rock service typically associated with dope and acid trips and the lovely era of hippies along with all their associated mumbo jumbo.
Part of the reflection of that mumbo jumbo was for the radio station to broadcast almost incomprehensible messages about a version of the much over used golden rule philosophy it called ‘Loving Awareness‘ or “LA“.
‘LA‘ was invented following the careful examination of a gatefold brochure advertising the new to the UK Lada car. On one side of the brochure it said ‘LA‘ on the other it said ‘DA‘. Having imbibed the relevant drugs of the day at a well-known party in central London, the discussion centred around how the gatefold sleeve could be opened and closed to bring the LA and DA together or move them apart. It was decided that DA was something bad, whilst LA stood for Loving Awareness and was something wonderful. It was also decided that LA would be promoted on air.
Offshore pirate radio already had an ‘anorak’ following, and now they were being told that they were part of some kind of spiritual experience. Radio Caroline in their highly malleable minds took on a life of its own (or should that be ‘her own’) and became a goddess that needed protection and, well, love. This was a very convenient way to get fans to work for nothing to keep the radio station alive during times when there was no money available to pay for anything.
|(A Radio Caroline anorak preparing to deal with change)|
At various times of crisis the radio anoraks were turned to for help and, as within any religious cult, would feel they should dedicate their lives to what laughingly got referred to as ‘keeping the dream alive.’
Those originally infected by the LA virus in the 1970s and 1980s are still suffering from it today.
As with any religion, they don’t like change. They get very angry if anything is ever different to the tradition.
This resistance to change causes no end of problems as the radio station struggles on today. Where once it used conventional broadcasting platforms to be received on a standard radio, Caroline is now just one internet radio station surrounded by millions of others.
There are now almost as many radio stations available on the internet as there are people capable of listening to them such that most often the only people listening to them are the people ‘broadcasting’ them.
Add to this the fact that music streams today can be customised to suit individual needs, and playlists on iPods are helping people completely achieve their personalised choice, ‘radio’ is now so very different to what it once was.
Whilst the station itself continues with its rock oldies format (the format preferred by the majority of ego-trippers presenting the programming), alongside considerable time spent reminiscing like an old war veteran about the vessel once used to house the studios when it broadcast from the North Sea (something that means absolutely nothing to the casual music radio listener not infected with LA), it is now at sea in an ocean-full of radio stations providing the same or slight variations of rock oldies. This makes Radio Caroline largely irrelevant compared to 50 years ago.
This irrelevance isn’t understood by the radio anoraks suffering from the LA virus. They will watch every move the station makes and make approving or disappointing pronouncements about it. If they have contributed to the station in any way, maybe by donating records, money or time, this past action also makes them feel they have a right to refer to Radio Caroline as a ‘we’, and have rights over the direction it should take. Since when has anybody giving money or time to somebody else’s private business ever ‘bought’ themselves rights over that business?
Rather than go away and find their happiness elsewhere, those infected with the LA virus will somehow assume that their needs must only be supplied by Radio Caroline. Since everybody’s needs are different, this leads to much bickering, dissatisfaction and shouting.
In truth, among normal listeners, the response to change or differences on a radio station, especially a radio station that can only be found via the internet, is to silently go away and find a radio station that is doing what they are looking for. It’s as simple as that.
Yet, these damn radio anoraks just won’t go away. Instead, as I explained, they seem to feel they have some kind of ‘rights’ over the station. They do not, yet won’t accept that they do not, and this is the number one crux of their problem.
Instead of faffing off, they linger around and moan like they have just been mortally wounded. The older they get the more scary their moans become. In recent times this has included death threats for those who disagree with them. They think this is completely rational and acceptable behaviour.
Radio Caroline has always been a bit slow when it comes to responding to change or embracing new technologies. This week they finally embraced Facebork by placing an official ‘page’ up for all to see. It’s early days, but just over 600 people have ‘liked‘ it.
Before the official ‘page’, there was an unofficial Facebork ‘group’ amongst many other Radio Caroline ‘groups’ on Facebork. In its death it had a quite impressive 2,693 Facebork ‘members’, and had hosted a very wide range of discussions, photos, promotions, news and information over the years. Contributors included Caroline staff, past and present, as well as the more active supporters, and those drifting by and finding it.
For a very long time it burbled away as a good unofficial place for Caroline fans to mix and natter with the volunteers.
Then, as always happens in any place of public debate, the conversations became abusive and unmanageable. The moderators, which by now included leading members of the Caroline on-air volunteers alongside the original fans who created it, didn’t seem to understand how to shut the abusers down. The result, maybe for the best, being that the long standing ‘group’ was given the chop, in favour of the fan ‘page’ which would be more in the control of Caroline volunteers than the ‘group’ had been.
Shedding so many members seemed a bit of a folly to me. 2,693 is an impressive figure for marketing purposes, but so be it.
However, I’m back at my original and main point; Why do these radio anoraks inflicted with the LA virus assume they should moan about Caroline when it doesn’t do what they tell it to? What makes them assume they have any ‘rights’ over the direction it takes?
Isn’t it about time somebody distributed the antidote to their addiction allowing them to move on to a radio stream that actually matches their needs?