“Hey, Jackson.”

“What’s that, Pete?”

“We’ve been driving this rig for, how long? Twenty-five? Thirty years?”

“Something like that, Pete. We started off hauling equipment for The Rolling Stones back in the ’70s. So?”

“So, I’ve been thinking, Jackson, we’ve spent the last thirty years moving bands like Eagles, Gipsy Kings and Dokken.”


“Well, what I’m getting at, Jackson, is that every night it’s a different town. Yet, in the past few years, it seems as if all the radio stations sound alike.”

“I know what you mean, Pete. There used to be a time when each station had its own musical identity. In one town Cher would have the number one song, while in another it would be Jefferson Starship.”

“Exactly. But now everything is the same. Same bands, same playlist. There’s no originality anymore. Why is that, Jackson?”

“You mean, why does each station sound like it came out of a cookie-cutter? Why all the DJs sound the same and they’re all playing the same bands like Creed or Dokken?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“The answer is simple, Pete. Like any business, the individual companies that made up the radio industry realized that they could maximize profits and reduce expenses if they combined their operations.”

“You mean, like bringing all the stations under one, large corporate umbrella that would decide which artists would get played, like Oasis or Prince? That one office, say in New York, decides which songs get played in Omaha?”

“That’s right.

“That’s terrible.”

“Not at all. Listeners don’t want challenges. They want to go from city to city and hear the same hits all the time. The best surprise is no surprise.”

“If you say so, Jackson.”

“I do say so. Millions of radio listeners can’t be wrong. Plus, with the emergence of national music video channels like MTV and VH1, a nationalized radio playlist was inevitable.”

“But I liked it when you never knew what to expect when you turned on the radio in a strange town. For example, In one town George Strait would have the number one hit.”

“And in another it would be Bob Dylan or Robert Plant. But those days are gone, Pete. That’s progress.”

“Well, maybe so, but I miss the good old days when each radio station was as unique as a fingerprint.”

“You and maybe five others, Pete. Remember. Progress is good. Consolidation is good. Deregulation is good. It’s what made this country’s economy what it is today.”

“But don’t the national programmers understand that we’re all individuals? That some of us like Leftover Salmon while others like Moby?”

“You can’t make money appealing to individuals, Pete. That’s a fact.”

“So much for individuality. I guess the unique ma-and-pa type radio stations just don’t stand a chance, anymore. Not when a few massive corporations are calling the shots.”

“Don’t let it get you down, Pete. Anyway, it’s just about lunchtime. Tell you what. I’m buying.”

“Sounds good to me. I think there’s a Macs at the next exit.”