Thursday, August 2, 2007

Life Imitates Art: Sonic Spectrum Goes Commercial

Kansas City's best (read: only) indie/college rock program on terrestrial radio, Sonic Spectrum, is taking up residence on Kansas City's alternative rock station, 96.5 The Buzz. This announcement comes about a month after Robert Moore, the creator and host of Sonic Spectrum, announced he was leaving 89.3 KCUR and taking his show with him. This humble blogger has conflicting feelings about this announcement.

First off, Sonic Spectrum was a no budget show on a public access station that played great indie/college music of all kinds (focusing more on the rock though). Basically, its two hours of airtime were Kansas City's equivalent to a block of standard rotation on KJHK, and since getting KJHK to come in clearly on a radio is damn near impossible in the city, those two hours of Sonic Spectrum were pretty sacred. It was a show to hear old favorites, instant classics, and some surprises. Moore knows his shit, so even the banter was good, unlike your average KJ DJ who, and I honestly don't mean to sound insulting, sometimes sound like they'd rather be partying or studying, depending on what part of the semester it is. Moore was incredibly dedicated and focused on his baby, and as a result the show gained about as much attention as a little indie rock radio show on public access can in Kansas City. And now its moving to the Buzz, home of the abrasive-at-best-but-usually-an-asshole Lazlo, his pothead sidekick Slimfast, and the earnest yet unlistenable Homegrown Buzz program. What worries me most about this jump is not about whether or not I think Moore is selling out, any man who starts a record label for the sole purpose of releasing and distributing local bands on a wider scale as a labor of love can't be too much of a sellout. No, its that, like it or not, Sonic Spectrum will be compromised in some way. I'm not saying that we'll soon be hearing the latest Fall Out Boy single on Sonic Spectrum (though knowing the Buzz we very well could), I'm just saying it won't be the same.

But then again, this is the guy who started Oxblood, and whatever you make of the talent on the roster aside, Moore is at least trying to take these bands to the next level so they can start playing venues like the Record Bar in other cities as opposed to just playing the Record Bar. Perhaps the jump to the Buzz can be looked at in the same light, that he is just trying to take the bands he loves to the next level. Commercial radio just might be that step that bands like Menomena or Deerhunter need if they want to make a living making (great) music.

Will the average Buzz listener go for Moore's show? Its hard to tell, but if anyone's going to make it happen its going to be Robert Moore. So to Mr. Moore: Even though I am conflicted, I wish you and your show the best of luck. As long as you sneak in a pre-Geffen Sonic Youth track once in a while you'll have a listener in me.

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