How important is the radio these days? It could be very important or it could continue to maintain the narrow myopic view of what music is. Music is a lot of things, but you wouldn’t know that by listening to the “radio”. Maybe there’s an opportunity somewhere in all of this, there usually is for someone who is fearless and committed.

Very rarely do I take up the valuable blog space here with my personal rants, but this was really on my mind today. Do we really need another song about “Da Club” to be spun ad-infinitum? Another song about your professed sexual prowess? Another song about how much money that you’ve made that validates your independence? No, we don’t. It’s not that people will ever stop making this songs, but the issue has always been one of balance. Radio has not had any balance since it bought into the misnomer that you can turn culture into a commodity. You can’t. Well, you can but what you end up with is what we’ve seen so much of: a caricature of a culture and it’s people.

Whose to blame? I don’t think it’s that simple of an answer as to point out a villain. But I do know that the radio as a business model doesn’t work if no one is listening. But it seems to me that there is something lurking around the corner that perhaps a decade from now this may all be a bad memory.

I’m not a futurist and realize when I say this, that this will not be a movement of the many, it will be a movement of more. But I think that we only have to look at the creation of music itself in the last decade to realize that it’s not necessarily the strength of the many but the strength of the more(the great ones) that will make a real difference.

What do I mean? Well if we look at the signs music was the first to fall from the hands of the traditional “gatekeepers”, so the logic would follow that radio may not be far behind. But here’s the problem: Like with music, just because I have the tools at my disposal to have a radio “station” it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will be compelling, great radio. But it very well could end up like music where there will be a whole lot of muck to get through to get to the jewels.

So here we are and I’m hoping that with the coming emancipation of radio(oh it’s on the way and when wi-fi is the equivalent of radio waves, stations will really become community based, like basically your neighborhood and the converse will hold true because you will be able to tune into a neighborhood in Italy all from the mini-van) that we will take steps that we didn’t take with music. Make sure that in all the zeal of convincing folks that they can “Do-It-Themselves” through the wonders of technology, that the most important factor in doing-it-yourself is stressed: skill.

I’ll leave you with this…my father was one of the most skilled carpenters I ever met in my life. He built the home I grew up in, literally, brick by brick. I did not inherit that skill from him. As much as I would like to believe(by either watching too much HGTV or some other reality warping programming) if I go to Home Depot today and buy each and every item that it takes to build a house, I would still not be able to purchase the most important tool in the lot: skill. So, probably by the luck of the draw and my very limited carpentry skills I would have a very lopsided domicile with no foundation. That’s where we are with all of this…no foundation.

P.S. Much of the inspiration for this rant comes from the good folks over here at soul-patrol.com

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.