For several hours this week, I've been listening to The Oasis 95.1 FM, a radio station that underwent a format change two weeks ago. Branded as 'Lite & Refreshing,' it goes down exactly like a diet Sprite -- zero calories, a vague hint of flavor, leaving an empty, fizzy feeling. This is so-called 'Soft Adult Contemporary,' one of the most neutered and boring formats available.
So while The Oasis promises "55 minutes of music per hour," the offer is about as appealing as shaving Zach Galifianakis' feet. Actually, I'd probably prefer that. What kind of regurgitation can you expect to catch on The Oasis? There's a wealth of filler like Lionel Ritchie, Chicago, Céline Dion, Tina Turner, and whatever else your shut-in aunt listens to while eating Banquet meals.
There's also The Eagles ("I hate the fucking Eagles, man!"), Heart, The Police, Kelly Clarkson, and Elton John. Even if you like these artists, judging from listening, you won't be hearing their good cuts -- The Oasis prefers to play sedative B-sides that not even fans like. It's like the exact opposite of a best-of album, playing all the sluggish duds from a prom scene in a C-list '80s movie.
All this should come as no surprise -- the station owners, Riviera Broadcasting, are the same folks that helped turn The Edge 103.9 (once one of the greatest alternative stations in The Valley, formally hosting events like Edgefest and remaining one of the few stations to play local acts like Authority Zero, among others) into My 103.9, the cesspool of leftover pop tripe it is today. The cancer is spreading -- now the only difference between 103.9 and 95.1 is one is "hot adult contemporary" and the other is "soft adult contemporary." I prefer the label "flaccid."
Formally known as "KVIB Latino Vibe," The Oasis once catered to the hip, urban Latino community, which makes this change even more of a bummer. Mexican hip-hop sounds vastly more appealing than hearing George fucking Michael ever again.
Complaining about current radio might seem ridiculous. Of course radio sucks! It has since before the iPod was invented! Phoenix has a long history of excellent radio selections, from KUKQ to The Edge (may the latter rest in peace) to KOOL 94.5 to KSLX 100.7, (which are still good from time to time, if repetitive.) But aside from KWSS 93.9, no other stations pick up on the local crowd or play anything that really challenges you.
That's kind of important, no matter how digital everything gets. Somehow, the public needs a musical voice that isn't only available online, but can be dialed in, even accidentally, by anyone with a dollar store FM tuner. Seeing as Riviera Broadcasting is headquartered in Las Vegas, they're about as far removed as possible from what's going on here in Phoenix music circles and what actually matters to their audience.
So yeah, it's a bit disappointing that a format change like this is a step backward. So consider this a call to the station's broadcast executives Michael Cutchall, Jose Rodiles, and Jeff Trumper -- maybe you could play something that isn't gonna put everyone to sleep.
Troy Farah is not soft, adult or contemporary on Twitter.
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