“When I was young I’d listen to the radio
Waitin’ for my favorite songs
When they played I’d sing along, it made me smile.
Those were such happy times, and not so long ago
How I wondered where they’d gone
But they’re back again
Just like a long lost friend
All the songs I loved so well.”“Yesterday Once More” – Richard Carpenter and John Bettis
Richard Carpenter wasn’t wrong when he co-wrote Yesterday Once More.
Listening to the radio is something that practically everybody has done since the childhood.
It represents our first and better memories of our lives.
Though I don’t exactly relate with the “sha-la-la-la” or “shing-a-ling-a-ling” part, when Karen sings:
“All my best memories
Come back clearly to me
Some can even make me cry. Just like before: It’s yesterday once more…”
It’s something undeniable.
When I was growing up, my siblings and I used to listen Stereorey.
It was a radio station created in Monterrey, Mexico in 1967, which was the first to be broadcasted in FM.
Its format was only English language music, with voice actor Ken Smith as its main announcer. Its slogan was “The Maximum Dimension In Radio”. We were born years later, so we always felt like this station was there since forever.
The music that we knew while growing up in the 80’s were mostly heard there. Although there were other stations in town, Stereorey was the one that we love the most. In the 90’s, they incorporated morning radio news into their daily schedule.
Every Saturday, we would listen to “Discotheque Stereorey”, a show that we really enjoyed, because that’s how we knew Disco songs that we never heard in our childhood.
The mixtapes were great, and sometimes my sister taped some of them to cassettes.
But sadly, the turn of the millennium brought changes.
In 2002 the name of the station changed to Best FM. It was still English language music, more oriented to current hits and some nostalgia, until 2005, when MVS Radio, the owners of those stations, made a radical makeover: the genre would be Mexican Regional, also known as Grupera Music. The name changed to La Mejor, a station that still remains.
In the past few years, there has been a sort of a revival for Stereorey. It has re-emerged as a webcast, a station in one Mexican city, and another station in a city in Argentina.
Another station that we used to listen to in the early 90’s was Éxtasis Digital (Digital Ecstasy), that in its early years was only English and retro. Somewhere through mid to late 90’s (or early 2000’s) they attempted to incorporate Spanish language music.
But thankfully, they returned to the original format, until it temporarily disappeared few years ago, because of problems among the owners of the station.
It finally returned last year with retro music only, and a local news broadcast at nights.
So, the 2000’s decade was strong for the Mexican Regional music.
Which led to a major switch in the listeners popular tastes. Even though during the previous decade there were few stations targeted to an specific and not so broad of an audience.
I live in an industrial city, and I’m embarrassed to say that most of the stations play Mexican Regional music (some of them even play reggaetón songs) along with (for my taste) awful morning shows full of nonsense and lousy senses of humor.
One of those stations broadcasts “El Show De Don Cheto”, a massively popular show from Los Angeles, created for Spanish speaking audiences in the U.S.
It may sound elitist at some point, but the people in my country who dislike this genre often refer to it as “agricultural music” or “farm music.”
(Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy some of these songs, especially the older ones and among all their sub genres. But I prefer the Norteña music).
Months ago my coworker (the one that I mentioned in my previous article, who used to listen radio with “today’s hits”) switched her cubicle.
So I don’t have to listen to her music. But I only could play some of my music through apps, since my phone doesn’t have radio. So after another coworker got sick and was absent for a month, I decided to buy something for my cubicle:
I bought a radio with a retro appearance.
It’s not digital – for whatever reason, I wanted to switch stations in the “old way.”
After a week of exploring stations I found one that had played English language retro music.
Its slogan was “70’s, 80’s, 90’s and more”. It had changed its format to romantic music in Spanish.
The sad news is that before that, on Twitter I had found some statistics about what is heard in my city.
And well, now that I’m updating them…
the numbers are depressing for me:
In addition to this, as recently as last week, rumors about a new change of format in one station seemed to indicate that this station, with the current concept of today’s hits, now will be a Grupera station.
Which will leave a total of eight stations of MR music. A complete exaggeration!
I recently joined a Facebook group that is dedicated to the history of Mexican radio.
It also has news about changes in the stations throughout the country. Users get to share nostalgic facts, or past recordings.
Some users think that radio needs to evolve and adapt to new times. Others think that the owners and executives need to listen the audiences and really know what they want. And still others think that the radio as we know it is going to disappear eventually.
I don’t think that the latter thought is going to happen.
Sometimes when I think that I’m perceiving a sort of involution in the contents and quality, I remember that there are specific occasions in which apps and internet radio can’t completely substitute the simple act of switching stations when you’re going on the road.
For many of us, the radio has been like a reliable friend that no matter how many times you can be away from it, you always come back to it.
It’s your time machine, your companion… and even your healer.
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