Thursday, 30 June 2022

Raging On Behalf Of The Machine

By now we've all enjoyed the story about the radio station in Vancouver, Canada (KISS FM) which laid off it's staff so in protest someone has been playing Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In The Name Of" ever since 4AM. "Rolling Stone" covered it followed by other international news and news even reached Rage's Tom Morrello who Twitter posted about it. I hate to be a killjoy because I'd dearly love for this to be true but it's fake. Oh they've been playing Rage alright, in fact I checked the feed and as of late last night they still were although they aren’t now (more on that in a bit), but this is no protest.

I've worked in radio for over twenty years so here's the deal; Is it possible for the host to lock himself in the studio and play Rage over and over again? Well yes up to a point, and if it started overnight they might even get away with for a few hours before anybody noticed and rushed down to the station but once they did the fun & games would be over. There is no way management wouldn't have keys to the studio or that if they somehow didn't security couldn't and wouldn't just bust down the door and drag him off. It's obvious that hosts are in fact there because they keep taking calls on the air and bantering with callers.

Also there is something called a "dump button" that will take the station off the air. There is one in the booth but there is also at least one more in the separate EQ closet where they keep the servers and relays plus another at the transmitter tower any one of which would have been pressed by now ending the feed and then they would replace it with a prerecorded one. I don’t know if KISS FM has more than one studio but since it’s owned by Rogers (Canada’s largest radio and TV conglomerate) I assume so and they could cut also the feed from one and transfer to another. Management doesn't even need access to the on-air studio to do so. This sort of thing actually where someone hijacks the booth has happened before in Canada more than once (I can personally think of at least a half dozen times times, all but one at campus stations), and it never goes on this long even if this were some understaffed campus station let alone a corporate one owned by Rogers which this is because it simply would not happen.

I looked into this and and the story about Rogers laying off the "entire staff" is wrong. They did layoff two hosts of a morning show but not everybody and again there were clearly hosts in there taking calls. Both former hosts have since posted on Twitter with anodyne "looking forward to new projects" type posts with no sign of any protests. In fact the real story appears to be that the station, which has had a soft rock & pop hits format, is changing to a Rock Alternative format and by this morning (after thirty hours) they had indeed pulled down their original page and live feed and replaced it with a new one in which they have rebranded themselves as “Sonic; The New Alternative” with the new website obviously ready to go along with new social media pages. Note that regardless of the classic episode of the beloved “WKRP”, stations in Canada at least can not just abruptly change formats without informing the CRTC (our equivalent of the FCC) although for their purposes this would be considered a minor change, so this has been in the works for weeks if not months.

Finally I listened in and it's revealing that the version of "Killing In The Name Of" which they were playing was the censored radio-friendly no profanity version. A real protest would proudly play the "Fuck You I Won't Do What You Tell Me" version. A corporate PR stunt that didn't want to piss-off the CRTC would not.

This is what is known as "stunting". It's not a cool protest giving the finger to our corporate bosses. I truly wish it was, seriously, that would fucking rule. But it's actually a PR stunt FROM our corporate masters. Sorry, really, but it isn't just Rage that's getting played, you are.


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