Open Letter To Larry Hoyt: Top 10 Reasons Syracuse Radio Hates Cool Music

Larry Hoyt, the host of the Common Threads folk music show on WAER FM 88 , wrote a comment on my last post: Syracuse Radio Hates Cool Music.

Before I launch into this diatribe, I urge everyone to tune into Larry’s show on Sundays beginning at noon on WAER FM 88. It’s great.

In his comment, Larry thought my prior post was harsh, inaccurate and painted the failures of Syracuse radio with too broad a brush. Guilty as charged, Larry. That’s blog writing for you, intemperate and wildly biased.

However, I’m unrepentant and still believe what I wrote. So I give you the Top 10 Reasons Syracuse Radio Hates Cool Music:

1) Syracuse radio hates cool music because it only lets it come out and play at odd hours. The cool shows are segregated from the regular fare and largely on the weekends. Why should I have to choose between Tom Townsley (blues) and Bill Knowlton (bluegrass) on Sunday nights?

2) Syracuse radio hates cool music because there are whole genres of cool music missing from the airwaves in Syracuse: reggae, ska, punk, power pop etc.

3) Syracuse radio hates cool music because no station will play anything off Bruce Springsteen’s album Magic–even though the album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard and whose single won best rock song at the Grammys.

4) Syracuse radio hates cool music because it took an organizing effort by the CNY Friends of Folk just to get your amazing show on the air.

5) Syracuse radio hates cool music because any station could have created the exact same format that WAER is now paying to simulcast on its HD 2 station.

6) Syracuse radio hates cool music because WAER yanked the “Cool Runnin’s” reggae show off the air many years ago–the last time we got to hear old school reggae in the ‘Cuse.

7) Syracuse radio hates cool music because too many of my friends have the same opinion expressed by Nat in the comment right before yours: “I didn’t realize that you could hear good music on the radio anywhere in the world until I left CNY.”

8) Syracuse radio hates cool music because the only world beat show on Syracuse radio comes on after my bedtime on Sunday night–I’ve got to work on Mondays!

9) Syracuse radio hates cool music because the local “community” radio station is only on the radio in your “community” if your “community “ happens to be in DeRuyter.

10) Syracuse radio hates cool music because too many of my friend ask me to play the following Buck-o-nine song :

What Happened To My Radio?

oh no, not again, please tell i’m wrong
it’s been ten minutes since they played this song
or is it the band with the one word name
I get so confused it all sounds the same.

the dj must think i’m crazy
or maybe just an idiot
last week he was spinning country
now alternative rock is the shit.

just who do they think they’re fooling
with this backwards regimen
they shove it so far down your throat
it’s swallowed with an english accent

what happened to my radio?
it used to be cool
now it just blows


8 thoughts on “Open Letter To Larry Hoyt: Top 10 Reasons Syracuse Radio Hates Cool Music

Add yours

  1. Phil — first, thanks for the positive comments regarding Common Threads (Sundays from noon to 3 pm on WAER 88.3 FM).

    I will agree with you that, for the most part, commercial radio in Syracuse is stuck in a predictable rut that lacks innovation and/or creativity… and way way way too many commercials. I kinda gave up on commercial radio long ago, except for an occasional stop at Oldies 92 for a few hits from the past.

    Regarding the classical music on WCNY-FM and the jazz on WAER-FM: believe it or not, there are many music fans who really appreciate the fact that Syracuse has both a classical station and a jazz station. I realize this music is not for everybody, and most folks might not consider this the “cool” music that you’re looking for, but I have a lot of respect for both WCNY and WAER for offering non-commercial alternative music to a segment of the listening audience that would not be served otherwise. There are more independent artists played on WAER than anywhere else on the radio dial in Syracuse.

    Regarding reggae, I agree there should be more reggae on the radio. When I used to host part of Top of the World on WAER, I was nicknamed the Reggae Rambler for my regular airplay of Marley, Toots, Burning Spear, and company. If you wanna hear more reggae, call up Mark Bostick Sunday nights during Top of the World on WAER, 10 pm to midnight (Phil, surely you can stay up to at least 11 pm on a Sunday night!).

    My “problem”with what you wrote previously is that folks read that and it just re-enforces the perception that *nothing* worthwhile is on the airwaves here in Syracuse, and they just give up on radio, which I think is a shame.

    The programming on WAER-HD2 is still in its infancy, and I’m sure it will be tweaked over time depending on listener response.
    In the ten years-plus that I’ve been hosting Common Threads on WAER, I’ve seen a great deal more variety added to WAER’s programming schedule; and who knows, maybe that trend will continue. A lot depends on listener response and listener support, at least as far as public radio is concerned.


  2. I could not agree with you more about Syracuse radio. I used to love WMBR at MIT. Old timey to hardcore punk. All volunteers, baby. Radio Free Brattleboro was cool too. Heck, I would even volunteer as a DJ at WAER. Turn the Syracuse radio dial to any station and you are most likely to hear a Billy Fucillo ad. I end up listening to WRVO most of the day, and WSEN in my car, when not listening to a CD. WAER was cool in the seventies. AOR. Album-oriented rock. Fast forward to 2008 and all that jazz. Great that Common Threads airs and other program changes are being made but why not more sooner? Why is Syracuse so straight? So stuck?


  3. hey there,
    i play reggae, c’mon now
    saturdays 5-8pm
    in fact, you can almost count on having at least one reggae tune per show…
    heh, i know what you’re saying man,
    its truly sad, i mean, how many stations does SU own that could potentially have great music?
    all those station could be blasting sweet delicious music all the time
    but are there students that want to do this?
    are there staff that want to train them?


  4. I completely agree about the hostility to innovation and variety in CNY.

    I spent years trying to get a non commercial community radio station functioning in Syracuse because it had been a musical wasteland for my entire memory. With much effort we created Syracuse Community Radio and eventually the tiny WXXE together, but never with any viable signal in the city. I found that we had few supporters and that even constituencies that should have been natural allies didn’t seem to understand the need or usefulness of community radio. By the late 90’s, internet radio was becoming widely available and personality conflicts and general frustration fragmented SCR/WXXE and I left Syracuse with a bad taste in my mouth and moved to Brattleboro, VT to work with radio free brattleboro and the LPFM station that followed. Even the commercial radio out here is far superior. WRSI is a AAA format that not only plays great roots, singer-songwriters and pop-rock, they also launched Rachel Maddow’s broadcasting career. I’d take an hour of WRSI over a year’s worth of Syracuse radio.

    I am pleased to have helped to develop the Common Threads program on WAER even though that quickly morphed into a one man show. I am glad to have been a part of that small accomplishment after all of my mostly fruitless attempts to create alternative program for CNY even if it is just a few hours on a Sunday. For Syracuse that is as progressive as it will ever get!

    Community radio has it’s own challenges and pitfalls, but anyone who has heard one of these stations knows what a difference they make to a community and especially to the music scene. Touring musicians have skipped Syracuse for decades because there is so little radio support and so little audience for many styles of music.

    I could go on and on, but since this is an old thread I’ll guess that few will read this anyway.


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