Thursday, May 8, 2008

National Indie?! Radio Channel eRockster and CSI

So, is a national indie radio channel from mega conglomerate Clear Channel inherently oxymoronic? Probably. I just learned about this venture from Sean Ross's column on Edison Media Research's website. He writes:

"Launched at the Coachella Valley Music Festival, eRockster is a national station -- built mostly around Indie Rock -- that will stream, but also be heard on Clear Channel HD-2 multicast stations in a number of markets...Like some of its Clear Channel Adult Modern cousins, eRockster has an older skewing, more library-driven feel. But it is built around a significant body of music that only leaks through to other formats in smaller doses -- a Snow Patrol here, a Silversun Pickups there. It's positioned as a national music community--competing in that regard with CBS' Last FM...The concept of a national youth-oriented, new music channel is a key here: It would allow records that wouldn't otherwise be on the radio achieve critical mass..."

Sean Ross also posted a playlist from eRockster, which includes old college radio faves The Breeders, The Pixies, and Portishead along with newer acts like Bright Eyes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Killers. One of the comments on Ross's post points out the similar role of influential college stations with large audiences like KEXP (Seattle station that is now broadcasting a bit in NY) and KCRW. Indeed, national indie radio efforts like this owe a big debt to college radio in all its forms.

eRockster is sort of a confusing entity. They premiered at Coachella with a pirate-radio-ish stunt/simulcast on Palm Springs' terrestial Jack FM station described in an article in the New York Post. According to eRockster's website mission statement:

"...we created erockster, a new online music portal and social networking site for people who truly love music. on erockster, you can listen to our broadcast 24/7 or choose from hundreds of songs and videos on demand. you can also upload your band's music, rate and comment on content, and share it with your friends. our ever-evolving 5000+ song library includes everything from classic rock to indie rock, soul to brit pop, and dance to hip hop. we also feature live concerts, interviews and other artist exclusives..."

Interesting side note from the NY Post article: "Eric Szmanda, best known as a star on the CBS television hit 'CSI,' will curate the music on eRockster and serve as its on-air personality." Hmmm. I always suspected that Szmanda (aka Greg Sanders) was an indie rock type on the show. But, more importantly from a gossip standpoint, I wonder if busted CSI star Gary Dourdan was at Coachella in part because of this eRockster stuff?


rubes said...

I'd been telling people that soon, "college rock" will become a commercial radio format, like "classic rock" circa 1985. There will be many variants, along the parameters of [new stuff vs. old stuff] [degree of straying from electric-guitar-based indie] [etc etc]. But it will happen, for better or for worse. The terrestrial radio audience is skewing ever older, and gen-Xers who still want to feel in the loop but don't have the time to scour the internet will embrace these stations.

Of course, a commercial station playing "college rock" IS oxymoronic, and commercial stations are likely to water down the possibilities, and aim for the lowest common denominator. Commercial stations are still in the business of selling ads, and that means fewer surprises/a smooth sonic curve - which in my mind trashes a crucial trait of college radio. So we'll see. In any case, "college rock" as a commercial radio format - well, it's happening now.

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of keeping things factual, would like to assure everyone that there is no connection between our determined online / HD2 radio station and the arrest you refer to in Palm Springs during the Coachella weekend.

We appreciate everyone's interest though, please tune in, turn on, and rock out!