Don Quixote’s Thought for the Day: “Radio friendly” politics

I was chatting with my son the other day about music.  He didn’t much like mine (50 years of pop/light rock from the Beatles to Nickleback) because, he said, it was too “radio friendly.”  He then played me the most listened to song on his IPOD, by a guy who couldn’t sing, singing a song so ugly it barely qualified as music.   Since when did “radio friendly” (a term which I take to me pleasant and catchy enough that a lot of listeners will want to listen to it) become a pejorative?

My son’s comment reminded me of the snobs who don’t own a TV, listen only to NPR, read only the New York Times, regularly attend the ballet and the opera and look down on everyone who doesn’t share their refined tastes.  But maybe the ordinary folks who prefer BBQ to fancy fish eggs, who listen to Taylor Swift and Uncle Kracker, who watch reality TV and football games are on to something.

Thay’d better be.  After all, if we don’t think they are smart enough to make good choices with their entertainment dollars, how can we possibly put much faith in their political choices?  Make no mistake, as has been pointed out here recently, the vocal advocates on either side of the aisle are not likely to convince many of the advocates on the other side.  It’s the good people of America we have to persuade.  Maybe we should give a little more respect to their choices and tailor our message accordingly.

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  • Bookworm

    Opera lovers are always disdainful of me, since I just don’t “get” opera.  I like to confound them by reminding them that the vast majority of people don’t “get” opera.  It’s wonderful that those with musical ears can appreciate the beauty (I’ll take their word for it) in operatic music, but it’s a fatal mistake for them to denigrate the rest of us, who outnumber them substantially.

  • Mike Devx

    Well, I’ll never be able to pretend I like those “Go Daddy dot com” TV commercials.  I LOATHE them.

  • Right Truth

    I’ve been to the Opera a couple of times and also to the Symphony.  A lot of it is the ‘experience’, the surroundings, the people-watching, fancy clothes, staging, … the entire package.  I’m not big into opera but I love the symphony, haven’t been in years and years.
    The sweet Grouch and I are probably “radio friendly” in our  music choices.  Rock-n-roll, pop, Blues, very select Country, Blues, …. did I say Blues???

  • suek

    DQ…did you form an opinion as to just exactly what “radio friendly” _means_?  I have to say I simply don’t understand _what_ it is, much less why it would be a bad thing.
    Enlightenment welcome…

  • Mike Devx

    My guess is that “radio friendly” means bland and un-hip.  Or to put it another way, anything someone older than 30 might be listening to.
    Unless you happen to be playing, perhaps, X, or the wilder Pink Floyd, from the 70’s and early 80’s maybe.  I’m guessing even the Ramones, “Beat on the brats, beat on the brats, with a baseball bat”, are radio friendly.  I wanna be sedated.
    If it has melody, it’s radio-friendly.  If it has harmonies, rather than deliberate dis-harmonics, it’s radio-friendly.  If it has a beat, or a very few easily-heard time changes in its beats, it’s radio-friendly.

  • suek

    Heh.  If I’m not listening to Prager, it’s Medved (I prefer Prager).  If neither of them, I’m probably listening to KUSC – classical music.  Before they lost their advertising due to a survey that showed that the KMZRT listeners were mostly 60 plus in age, and the car advertiser thought their market was mostly 30-45 age range, they were my first choice.
    I’m not sure I could even talk to your son!
    To be honest, I find the tendency to have ear plugs in your ears all the time to be disconcerting – especially when coupled with an earpiece that flashes and that the person walking around apparently talking to themselves.  Bizarre disconnected world we live in…

  • Charles Martel

    I once worked for a wonderful woman, about my age, who was from blue collar roots. Her dad was a self-taught opera, ballet, symphony buff who passed on his love, insights and appreciation to his daughter. She, in turn, passed them on to the people she worked with, inviting each of us in sequence to a opera, or a concert or a ballet over the course of a year. When any of us went with her, she would whisper to us during the performance what to look or listen for, and why it was important. I loved her for her kindness and enthusiasm in opening worlds to the rest of us that we had been tentative about.

    One thing she said that stuck with me was what her father told her. “This belongs to everybody. It is all of our birthrights. Not just the rich, or the greatly intelligent or the social butterflies ‘own’ it.”

    So, people who love opera shouldn’t be disdainful when others don’t “get” it. Instead, they should be patient and generous in teaching people why opera—or soccer, or quilting or learning Latin—are worthy things.

    Screw snobbery.



    I like opera, especially Bizet, Verdi, and especially Wagner.
    Ballet — music yes (Tchaikovsky!), dance, not so much.
    Seldom watch TV
    Like to eat barbecue a lot
    Like caviar (fish eggs) quite a bit, too.  Love brie!
    Not big on football.
    Don’t care for reality TV.
    Like Taylor Swift songs, mostly.
    Really don’t care if someone else’s tastes are different:  good grief, tastes are personal, not moral!

    How in Heaven’s name can anyone look down upon someone else for there tastes!?!?   Yet, they do, and it’s not just one-way:  the blue collar snobs who look down on opera-goers are as wrong as the opera-goers who look down on the rappers.    Charles Martel (ours) has it right:  “Screw snobbery”!

  • Mike Devx

    I hope you all will forgive me, but when Joe Biden and Obama were campaigning in Virginia, and the message of the day was “We’re just like all you regular folk”, so they stopped at Ray’s Burgers, and Obama ordered a regular ol’ burger, man, with lettuce, tomato and cheese.  And requested his Spicy Dijon Mustard.  “Got any Grey Poupon?”
    Yeah, I’m being a reverse snob, just like with my comments about Obama’s attempt to connect with your average voter over the dismaying cost of groceries: “Have you seen the price of arugula lately?”
    It’s not that he likes arugula and Dijon mustard.  It’s that he thinks those are the ways to connect with your bitter clingers.

  • Gringo

    If I knew what DQ’s son liked in music, I would have a better idea of how to react.   While most teens of a certain era all listened to Top 40 radio, these days the choices in music  are much variable. Musical consensus has fragmented.  Fro example: many if not most people under 25 are aware and like a musical group from 40 years ago, a.k.a. The Beatles. When I was a teen, anyone who would listen to music of our parents’ generation would have been laughed at.
    The consensus of radio music is gone, whether it was  Bob Wills playing live on the radio in the 1930s, or Top 40 or “Progressive” FM in later eras.
    I no longer listen to the radio, so my interpretation of “radio music” is what was previously on radio, a.k.a. radiddio.  I used to listen to a college station and a classical. I now have all the music I need in cheapo CDs @ $2, many box sets. Or YouTube. People who listen to the radio have also been known to put down the musical taste of those who do not: recall the phrase  “long-hair music”  from before the Beatles era. It works both ways. People will listen to what they listen to, radio music or not. Some put down others, others do not put down others.
    In recent years, my taste is for the divine harmonies of  choral music. Schutz, Monteverdi, and  even doo-wop, for example. Satchmo, too, for no one got the sound out of a trumpet that he did.

    From Bolivia: Savia Andina. Porque estas Triste ? (Why are you sad?) .Golden oldie, at least in the altiplano.

  • Ymarsakar

    <B>as has been pointed out here recently, the vocal advocates on either side of the aisle are not likely to convince many of the advocates on the other side.  It’s the good people of America we have to persuade. </b>
    Moral equivalence won’t convince good people of anything except that your position is weak. The Left has gained great strides in changing the perspective of entire generations of Americans because they have a clear cut definition of what is good and what is evil. You’re not gong to convince people of anything with words on itself.

    Something as small as fanaticism or true belief will convince, where words themselves would have failed. Because it demonstrates strength, however limited it may be, to those that have not yet found what they sought.
    The good people of America will believe the same things that they believed about the Iraq war, from both sides of the equation. It’s only happenstance that one side happens be the good side. If both sides were evil, then people would just believe nothing but what evil has wrought. And call it good.

  • Mike Devx

    So, what would “radio friendly politics” be, then?
    Is it to frame our arguments towards “Middle America”, the 30% or so of Independents who are swayable?  Or to be relevant towards the younger, aged, say 18-25?
    Do we urge them to adopt conservatism?  Or do we urge them to get out there and vote for the GOP; hard for me to do when I can’t muster up much enthusiasm myself for many in Congress in the GOP.  “At least our scoundrels and wimps are better than their scoundrels and wimps?”
    Either way I think you want to tell stories, not just pontificate on principles.  Start with the concrete, move to the abstract if you detect your audience is receptive to it.  Jesus usually spoke in parables.  Reagan had his “Welfare Queen” story and I guess innumerable others.
    I’d love to master the telling of the Thanksgiving Story, concerning Governor Bradford and the early colony that tried socialism for two years – communal farming, everyone producing to the best of their ability, everyone being fed from the communal harvest based on their needs – only to fall to the very edge of starvation before abandoning the disastrous experiment.  Then within one year of instituting personal and family harvests, with only the leftover being available for trade, and the indolent left to their own devices.  Bountiful harvests and productivity and thriftiness, and the gathering after the harvest to celebrate their great good fortune.

  • Ymarsakar

    <B>After all, if we don’t think they are smart enough to make good choices with their entertainment dollars, how can we possibly put much faith in their political choices? </b>
    Who in the frozen circles of hades are you talking about with this ‘we’. I don’t know many people here who would give a damn about what people spent their entertainment dollars on. But maybe I’m wrong, so go ahead and correct me.

  • Mike Devx

    For those unfamiliar with the story,this link has some of the information.


    It doesn’t have all of the relevant entries in William Bradford’s diary, but it does have the key one:

    “The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years…that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing…as if they were wiser than God. For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other mens’ wives and children without any recompense…that was thought injustice. […]  This had very good success for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”

  • kali

    I suspect “radio-friendly” just means accessible, which is anathema to the intellectual and the hip. After all, if many people enjoy your music, understand your nuanced politics, share your sophisticated values, how do you stand out as a deep, subtle thinker?
    It’s always been my explanation why some people like jazz . . .

  • Don Quixote

    I had to laugh, kali, but you are so right!  You must be one of those deep, subtle thinkers.  Suek, it’s a great question.  First and foremost, radio-friendly means it doesn’t contain the 7 words you can’t say on radio.  After that, it just means, or at least meant when the term originated, music that lots of people will want to listen to.  It helps if it has a catchy chorus that you find yourself humming in the shower the next day.  It helps if, as the kids on Bandstand used to say, “It has a good beat and it’s easy to dance to.”  But, mostly, it has to appeal to a large number of people.  Radio was (and I suppose still is) an intensely competitive business, hence the payola scandals.  Radio-friendly merely meant the radio stations would play it, and, payola aside, they’d only play it if they thought lots of people would want to hear it.

  • BrianE

    I agree with the theme of this post that we need to find ways to tell why conservative ideas are good without talking down.
    Mike D is on to something. Storytelling. Making an idea real.
    As to radio friendly, I assume he means the vast genre of music that can’t be played on the radio. Go into Hastings and look at the number of albums that have parental advisory or explicit on the cover.
    Music with overwhelming bass line, very distorted guitar and lots of screaming, filled with anger, anarchism and despair, and a liberal dose of the F word.
    Here’s a popular group Korn.  Go to the link if you want to listen to snippets of their songs.

  • suek

    So why the reliance on the forbidden “7 words”?  Anger? shock value? preoccupation of the 4 year old with “poopy poopy poopy”?  They’ve just discovered sex?
    I’ve never understood why a term which is supposed to be descriptive of a good thing is used with such anger to indicate an intent of doing harm to someone.  Males spend their whole lives convincing women to do that with them which they then use as a term of conquest.  Is this the only way to express the male dominance that feminism attempts to take away??
    I don’t understand.