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October 26, 1980 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-10-26
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'Pge 4---*unday, %coar 26, 1?80--T ft Mism po ily



The Michigan Daily-Sunday, O

Stone critic speaks his mind

(Continued from Page 6)
Apart from the No Wave innovators,
Marsh feels that even mainstream
musicianship is being ground into the
dirt. The audience, he says, is simply
too lazy to go digging through the pop-
culture archives in search of their rock
and roll roots, and the entertainment
industry has become skilled enough to
palm off sterile product as the Real
Thing. "It's something we did to our-
selves," he admits matter-of-factly.
"We just got lazy. Like when you get to
be 30, you start to put on weight. Then
what you do is, you start eating less and
exercising more, or you get fat, right?
The same thing happens mentally and
Marsh, who recently turned 30 him-
self, got started in rock journalism over
a decade ago when, at 19, he founded
Creem. (Marsh hails from Pontiac,
Michigan and Creem's national. office
remains in Birmingham.) A few years
later he relinquished the editorial

reigns to become pop music critic for
Newsday, and then went over to Rolling
Stone, where he's contributed record
reviews, columns, and profiles. He's
not doing too much personality stuff
these days, because "the people I'm in-
terested in writing about I know too
damn well."
Without a doubt, times change.
Creem, says Marsh, has turned into
"the kind of publication that makes you
grieve for trees." "I don't think rock
and roll is important to most of -the
people who make it, I don't think it's
important to most of the people who
listen to it, I know it's not important to
most of the people who write about it or
play it on the radio. What is important
to them is being contemporary, hip,
trendy; making money; looking
Sounding disturbingly similar to the
mythical Sixties Older Generation,
Marsh tends to come down pretty
severely on "the kids" of today. The

subject may be rock and roll, but the
complaints are grindingly familiar;
Youth today are not "responsible,"
they don't respect their heritage,
they're not interested in "tradition,"
they're lazy. Like a lot of over-30-rock
writers, Marsh can't help but see the
simple, joyous fun of yesteryear rock
and roll as some magical mystery bop
through teenage fantasy that makes a
wasteland of today's admittedly
prepackaged and oversold pop music.
"To me," Marsh recalls, "rock was a
moral force, something that knew the
difference between right and wrong."
But Marsh's problems with the
current scene aren't just moral, of
course, they're musical. He remembers
a fellow critic trying to tell him that
people °such as Talking Heads lead
singer David Byrne "sang in a
deliberately non-emotive way because

they were trying to break down
traditional macho male sexual
stereotypes. Now," says Marsh, "i
personally consider this pure and utter
horseshit. I think they sing like that
because they can't sing any better than
As the conversation drifts to a close, I
ask Marsh whether he- thinks rock
critics take the music too seriously. He
glares as if he wants to slug me, but
contains himself enough to answer.
"Part of my philosophy," he says in his
flat Midwestern twang, "is that doing
silly things is a philosophical act." But
if that's true, I ask, why be so damned
responsible and serious about rock and
roll? "Because," says Marsh with a
gleam, "being responsible about it is
very irresponsible, because it gives
people totally the wrong idea."

Roar of grease paint

(Continued from Page if)
Theatre program at the Detroit In-
stitute of Arts (DIA). The DIA books
the Youtheatre productions to groups
such as YPT for presentation around
the state and both the DIA and. the
sponsoring group receive a share of the
profits. The show; which is about the
contact that occurs between all types of
human "beans," will be presented in
Ann Arbor in early November. Later in
the year, YPT is sponsoring another
Youtheatre production, "Getting to
Know Shakespeare," which offers
suggestions to secondary school studen-
ts on getting around the trouble of
reading Shakespearian works.

Even with the shadow of Tisch upon
them, YPT administrators still like to
daydream about the future. Laura
Rosbert, Winick's predecessor as
producer-manager went to visit the
Children's Theatre School in Min-
neapolis, a four million. dollar
organization that offers a full day-
school program in theatre and
academics to its students. Co-founder
Doris Sperling says, "Our feeling for
kids who have this love of theatre is that
there should be an outlet for them. We
hope someday to be able to provide a
continuous learning process for kids.
But that's way down the road."


(Amateur and Commercial Photofinishing)
IN BY 9:00
OUT BY 5:30
UPTO 11x 14
IN BEFORE 9:00 OR 1:00
OUT BY 1:00 OR 5:00

Music radio in 1980 is in tough shape.
Although in some parts of the country
radio stations attempt to reflect the
surge of creativity in would-be popular
music that has followed-in the wake of
the punk explosion, for the most part
(and this is certainly true of Detroit and
Ann Arbor), rock and pop music radio
stations have become extremely con-
servative in their programming of
music, emphasizing the old and
familiar rather than the new and dif-
You may recall that it hasn't always
been that way. In retrospect, the era of
"freeform" or "progressive" radio, in
which the DJ programmed all or
almost all of the music played and at-~
tempted to do creative radio, should be
looked at as a historical fluke which'is
unlikely to be repeated any time soon.
IN ORDER TO gain a sense of the
operation of music radio, you have to
realize that radio stations generate
revenue by selling advertising.
Everything that a radio station does
must be understood in this light. The
radio station must sell advertising and
it wants to sell it at the highest possible
There is supposed to be a balance to
this desperate, albeit legitimate, quest
for profit. Theoretically, radio (and
televion) stations broadcast "in the
public interest." Theoretically, the
airwaves belong to the people. Radio
and TV are regulated by the Federal
Communication Commission (FCC)
which is supposed to ensure that the
stations operate "in the public in-
terest." In fact, the impact of the FCC
is negligible. Although the FCC licenses
radio and television stations, these
franchises are virtually never pulled,
even in the face of gross negligence.
When new ownership took over the
license of WIQB this past year, they
quickly shifted the programming to
what they believed to be a more
profitable pattern. Although more
people may now be listening to WIQB
(and it is the station's right to attempt
to maximize profits), this new format
replicates musical programming that
was already available to Ann Arbor
listeners while eliminating program-
ming unigde to this area. This is an
issue which the FCC usually chooses to
ingore. That WPAG-FM subsequently
switched from another unique style to a
format similar to the new WIQB is fur-
ther testament to the FCC's hands-off
policy regarding format changes that
are, perhaps, not "in the public in-
radio, television, and print media in or-
der to get their message across to the
public. How "the public" is defined
determines how and where an adver-
tiser advertises. If you're selling soap
or breakfast cereals-some product
that most people might conceivably be
persuaded they need or want-a mass
media that reaches a broad cross-
section of people like an entertainment
program on television or a daily
newspaper, would be logical places in

which to advertise. Although TV and
newspapers are capable of reaching
many people, they are relatively ex-
pensive simply because of that fact;
advertising rates are computed on the
basis of how many people will receive
the message. Y
Corporations and their advertising
agencies spend millions of dollars in
order to discover how to most efficien-
tly reach their potential market.
Marketing companies conduct coun-
tless surveys in order to figure out what
they should say and where they should
say it. A good place for a Mercedes ad
would be on a classical music radio
station, or in a magazine like Fortune
or the New Yorker. Why? Surveys have
shown that rich people tend to listen to
classical music on the radio and they
also constitute a healty segment of the
readership of select magazines. A
medium that attracts lots of wealthy
people is an attractice place to adver-
tise because unless you're advertising a
necessity, you want to reach people who
have money left over after meeting
their basic monthly expenses. The
competition is fierce for those up-scale
types with those discretionary dollars.
While an audience consisting entirely
of wealthy consumers may be an adver-
tiser's dream, I chose this example
mainly to demonstrate how targetted
advertising makes use of the existence
of numerous sub-groups in a given
population (or attempts to create them).
are often as few as three signals
available in a medium sized city,
(cable is dramatically altering this and
the implications are both staggering
and encouraging) an individual can
usually choose from among twenty or
more radio stations. It is the
multiplicity of radio stations in a given
market that, logically, fragments the
listening audienace. If you can't be all
things to all people, reasonably you
might, try to be all things to some
people. By programming a specific
style of music, you attempt to attract a
specific group of listeners who have
similar tastes in music, share a similar
lifestyle and (bottom line) can be seen
as constituting a cohesive potential
market for advertisers of certain
products and services.
By substituting rock for the abstract
"certain style of music," the
programming rationale behind
stations like WRIF, WABX, WWWW,
WIQB and WMJC can be understood.
WABX is a classic northern, urban,
factory-town rock station. The music
and its presentation by the disc jockeys
is aimed at only a segment of the
population. The typical 'ABX listener is
a while male between the ages of 18 and
24. "Well, all right Deeetroit!"
By concentrating on a narrow slice
of the population pie, a radio station at-
tempts to make itself an efficient buy
for advertisers of goods which are
primarily aimed at a specific age
group and lifestyle. The music that
WMJC plays is chosen to appeal to
women between the ages of 25 and 34.
On WABX you can expect to regularly

hear Ted Nugent. On WMJC you would
never hear the macho Mr. "Wango
Tango," but you could be pretty sure of
hearing Jackson "God, he's sensitive"
Browne. Both WABX and WMJC are
valuable slices of the advertising pie
because they deliver lots of listeners
who fall into their respective target
ALSO IMPORTANT is the shifting
age of the population. During the last
five years America has gotten older.
Due to a decline in the birth rate in the
late 1950's and 1%0's, there are fewer
teenagers in 1980 than there were a
dozen years ago when the post-war
baby-boom group (which will forever
appear as a giant bulge on population
charts) was reaching young adulthood.
This demographic fact of life has
altered the sound of radio. Because of
their large numbers, radio stations
have been targetting their program-
ming at the bulge since they came of
age as consumers (approximately fif-
teen years ago). Presently the bulge is
aged 25-34 and it is within this age group
that the most heavily contested ratings
battles are taking place. It is no ac-
cident that WIQB and WPAG-FM
changed their formats to styles that are
designed to be attractive to people in
this age group.
Radio stations are in search of an
audience. But, it is an uncountable
mass. TV and radio audiences are

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UNIVERSITY (994-0433)

1315 S"

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