Once a powerful part of our society, radio has experienced some changes that many likely never could forecast. It's one of those communications that is just a given. Radio. A simple word that unlocks the hidden channels to hear music, politics, religion, or sports at home, at the office, in the car. It leaves room for the imagination. Before the digital switch in 2009, some television stations even had their own radio stations and you could listen in to tv shows, news, etc. I vividly remember countless times driving home from camping on Cape Cod on a Sunday night in the summer with The Wonderful World of Disney coming through the speakers of my dad's truck. Kids nowadays have no idea what that's like. Some of us may be sentimental about radio, but should it continue to wither and die? Country radio especially has been experiencing some difficult changes with how we take in music.
Having been a listener of country radio long enough to know of the drastic change in music quality over the years, some of us have been outcast. Country radio has changed from being pleasant with songs from Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, George Strait, and others like Reba, to sounding like a pop station. Even myself, at 26, find myself amazed at how the music has changed since I was in middle school. It's so polarizing. Instead of catering to people who enjoy quality country, it's the new pop station – attempting to appeal to a vast audience. I think we all know, It's the true country listener that is being hung out to dry.
So where does that leave someone like me? John from Massachusetts. The guy that used to get playfully teased for listening to country music, being a NASCAR lover, and truck guy. Well, I ended up finding Texas music obviously. But I still crave radio. Why? Because I want to hear someone behind the microphone that gives a damn. Sure, I do enjoy Spotify, and my digital albums. I've bought a scary amount of Texas albums over the years through Amazon. The problem with streaming and listening to CD's, is the lack of personality. I get tired of no one talking to me. Sometimes, I even miss the commercials a bit. It's weird to hear that I'm sure, but I like to know there is someone that cares and puts the time into creating an awesome play-list.
One of the best country stations – arguably one of the best in the United States, is 95.9 The Ranch out of Fort Worth, Texas. I listen to this everyday at work and it has satisfied all of my country radio cravings. Currently as I write this, Kaitlin Butts with Flatland Calvary is playing (A Life Where We Work Out). The hosts are fantastic and they even interact with the listeners on their "Wall" which they refer to the users as "Wall Bangers." It's open lines of communication directly with the DJ's and other listeners. It's a community, much like the Cody Jinks Flockers Group. It's that special feeling of being apart of something in the "underground."
This radio station has reignited my love for country radio. While I am one of the listeners who is pretty far away, I'm by no means the farthest. I believe someone is in Denmark, the Netherlands, and I seem to recall Sweden being mentioned. That should tell you how good this station is. The hosts are all passionate about the Texas and Red Dirt artists and morning host, Justin Frazell runs the syndicated Texas Red Dirt Roads radio show. Malone in the afternoons is a hoot as well and provides some much needed laughs during the work day. These hosts are constantly playing upcoming and larger known Texas and Red Dirt bands. There's some Americana thrown in the mix as well. To put it simply, if you listen to independent country, this IS YOUR station.
This station is a prime example of what country radio could and dare I say, should be. It encompasses everything that I always enjoyed about listening to the radio when I was younger. The friendly and humorous banter between hosts, the lighthearted radio interviews with our favorite artists, and most importantly – good music. I can turn this station on with confidence knowing that I am going to like what they are playing. Some mainstream/larger artists are given some spins like Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, and Jack Ingram along with the up-and-comers. There is no set "Top 40" mold. Old mixed with new. Not the same 10 songs all day long and an occasional few previous hits. That's boring and dated. I have yet to find a radio station of the same caliber as 95.9 The Ranch and I was searching for it the entire time since I wrote off mainstream radio years back.
This my friends, is how a radio station will thrive and survive. It's about going back to your roots and sharing good music, delivered by passionate people who know what they are talking about. The over-polluted mega companies have continued to remove the identity of many aspects of life. From the days of the local corner store, to yes, even today's radio, we've lost that special feeling of the little guy. That feeling of knowing what you are getting from the person across the counter. I want to see more of that with country radio. Until those days return, radio will continue to crash and burn and smaller stations will keep chugging along. In other words, we need to make it about the music again…and if you’re reading this, you know exactly the music I speak of.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!