My dearest WRAS,
This letter is by no means easy to write.
You’ve been near and dear to me since I first stumbled upon your hundred thousand watt transmissions seemingly eons ago in 1989. Ever since that formative year I’ve followed you faithfully through thick and thin, through various program directors, specialty programs, free forms, dj’s strong and weak, eloquent and stutterably questionable, indeed through mires of hopeful heavy rotations and lungful local playlists.
You’ve ever given me much, 88. Our history is one of sharing and of wealth. We’ve shared so very much new music together that I shudder now to think of the vast myriad of tunes that have sound-tracked this many yeared happy romance. Your gifts have been numerous and always appreciated, never shunned, though some concert tickets, indie press release cd’s, and even bumper stickers have far outshone others.
In reliving our past, I’ve warbled penned verses in my slowly deepening voice over your airwaves, requested songs be removed forever from your playlists, have cavorted in your small offices, heard my gifts remarked upon by others, and gladly orificed your philosophies into my sometimes too narrow views. 88, I have ever loved you.
Our times together have been happier far more than those youthful misguided trysts with Power99, 99X, 96 Rock, Dave FM, or even that famous harlot of NPR persuasion. Darling 88, even the hopeful chaos of WREK and its infamous Wreckage program could never hold a candle to the luminous brilliance that has blinded so many who simply would not see the banded aural tether that has chained you to me.
It is precisely this history that leads me to this poison pen.
I don’t blame you. You, who I’ve forgiven the interruption of beloved music for Georgia State Panther games; you, who I’ve forgiven for duping me on more than one April 1st, you, absolutely, who has steered me down the wrong path more than once for a well-placed riff or surprising shift in tempo on one tune heard in passing; you, who I ache still today to forgive this latest of transgressions. You, my 88, my RAS.
I must acknowledge, my strongest proponent of all things aural or even atonal, that your birth in ’71 places you, in actuality, older than I, but your influx of new blood, new bands, new noise, gives you the odd distinction of slowly growing younger than all around you. I, however, cannot recycle my blood without the kind donation of a pint to some very deserving source (the joke goes that men must change their own oil) and, as I near forty, find the tenacity of elasticity of taste withering sadly.
It’s not you. It’s me.
You see, your regular rotation has shifted as such that I no longer recognize you as the bastion of, my until recently, youthful ear. Every third song I hear now as a rap repetition and sampled back-beat so unimaginative that I have to remind myself to the very doubt that I’ve thus far defined myself by.
Please don’t misunderstand. I do not dislike rap out of hand. I was there for the real Roxanne. The Ghetto Boys and NWA defined gangsta rap for me. I found that I loved what Spearhead, Tricky, Del The Funky Homosapien, and yes, even, the patently white bread MC 900 FT Jesus were doing for rap (which is to say: something else).
But, true to the point, here outside Atlanta, I can find a rap song in damn little dial spins. (Remember when dials spun?) What breaks my heart is that I can no longer differentiate your left-hand band purely by sound. The rap I’ve been hearing you play sheds no hip-hop or trip-hop grace upon the genre. Remember, my love, I am trying, but unknown has never equaled innovative and I have always sought out that eponymous location of 88.5 FM for something alien, for something surprising, for something new.
As I near the watershed moment of forty I fully realize that new is infinitely more difficult than it has ever been, but I cannot consider it impossible. I’ve been through this spot before. Genres have stagnated in my ears before being reborn to my ever searching interest. If there is an envelope to be pushed, somebody can be trusted to do so. I merely trust you, darling 88, to continue to seek them out to entrust them to me for their safe-keeping.
I ask only that you remember in all your new blood that I love you and want nothing more than your love for me to continue; to trust in my wishes for all our wealth and sharing. I fear you’ve forgotten me in all your newly gained back-beats that don’t have the ring of anything new. I miss you, 88, but I trust your heart still knows that new is from what you were born, new has been your growth and maturation. In a cacophony of mocking birds there are lovers such as I that look to you for anything, even the wrong sound, to break the monotony of what we find, all too much, elsewhere.