Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(No) Thank You, Council of State

Now, quite exceptionally, something political. The reason I am sharing this is because, for a change, I am really unhappy with Finnish radio policy. There have been extremely few listenable radio stations where I have lived during my lifetime. My favorite radio station Radio Asia (http://www.radioasia.fi/) has not been given a nationwide license that would make the station cost-effective. Therefore Radio Asia and will disappear from the radio waves on Thursday.

Radio Asia, which could be translated into, say, 'Radio Relevant', has been on air for only one year and is now coming to an end. There has been talk about Radio Asia continuing as an online radio, which would be nice. Still, this whole episode has shown a huge flaw in the system. A radio station that plays music from the golden 60s to the glamorous 80s, broadcasts shows in Finnish, Swedish and English and focuses on multicultural music, versatile genres, hits and lost gems from the past is the best thing that has ever happened to the radio in my lifetime. "Music from the Beatles to Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones to Rush."

More specifically, the things weren't that bad in the early 90s but I was a very small child back then. 20 years ago there were actually many different genres represented on the Finnish radio. Musical variety was presented in different radio shows each of which had a slot of their own in the program chart. Nowadays, there are mostly no radio stations like that. I am not really taking account of YLE, Finland's equivalent to BBC, here but it is sufficient to say that YLE doesn't play all that much interesting music.

As Radio Asia disappears, the only Finnish radio station with no money-greedy ulterior motives (or playlists!) will be Radio Helsinki, which cannot be listened to outside the capital region without the Internet.

Before you tell me to go listen to Internet radio stations, I have to tell you I am not a person who listens to the radio much. Therefore I haven't even been an active listener of Radio Asia. However, this doesn't mean that I don't love and cherish Radio Asia to the bitter end. I guess it is anyway reasonable to have one listenable radio station. It is still uncertain if Radio Asia will even continue on the Internet.

Generally speaking, today's radio culture is hideous. The main purpose of every station has to be making money, lots and lots of money. Music is just a by-product of radio stations selling profiled audiences to advertisers. Why does it have to be like that?

The sad truth is that most people are not really interested in music. For a person like me it is however a burden to be forced to listen to ultimate musical blandness, say, in the grocery store or gym. Due to people not being interested in music, the music selections on the radio are the result of carefully conducted studies that aim to determine which songs don't irritate (or delight?) anyone. Personally, I don't see the point of listening to music that doesn't arouse any kind of emotion.

Radio Asia wasn't granted a cost-effective nationwide licence to continue broadcasting as a radio station different from the mainstream. As stated on Radio Asia's website, Radio Asia proved that there are people in Finland who like to enjoy their music with soul. Commercial playlists haven't brainwashed everyone. Radio Asia thanks the audience for proving that the concept works.

Listen to Radio Asia (while you can!)

No comments: