And I am not talking about internet, or augmented reality or other new tech. I’m more of an old school guy, you know. I still don’t have cable, but free TV adapted, actually, in quite wondrous ways. You still can’t watch free porn but there’s always Solenn Heusaff. Remember radio? they evolved, too. From an all-news format to an all-request station, you can program your radio-playing mobile phone into niche programming and recreate Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas without the guns and the crime because you live in the Philippines and there are more buses and speed bumps in side streets than there are luxury cars and 9mm ammunition. And print? Eh, you’re looking at it.
From a music player full of downloaded files on your phone to buying digital music by the single on iTunes, it may seem that radio is dead, if you don’t want to listen to music chosen by others to appeal to their taste and foisted upon you every day until the earworm goes through your brain on the other side. As noted by the late George Carlin, himself an ex-DJ, lots of music actually get chosen to be put on the radio by sheer catchiness, what is known as the song’s “hook.” This is the hook referred to by Vanilla Ice on Ice Ice Baby’s chorus, which incidentally was stolen/sampled from the song “Under Pressure” by Queen/David Bowie. This is what got Poker Face by Lady Gaga, Sugar Sugar by the Archies, and Napakasakit, Kuya Eddie by Roel Cortez famous. Recently, in order to keep people listening, radio stations repeatedly got the tried and tested formula of copying whatever works (which is currently loudmouthed DJs with opinions catchphrases and jokes colorful enough they are only suitable for 2 things, comedy bars or an all-stud beer session. It probably started with “Kailangan pa bang i-memorize yan?” until the irritating “Mehganun?!” and today’s “*blank*paMOR!” Hearing the Visayan or Ilocano language is good, but more often, when you only hear the medium, it only gives you a warning that the next joke will make fun of a stereotyped “probinsyano.” And now you can listen to sexual jokes on the radio in between playing One Direction and Taylor Swift songs;you know, songs your eight-year old love. Things got bad enough that NU 107.5 closed down a few years ago.
Now the good news. 92.3 FM got bought by Manny Pangilinan and got turned into an all-news FM station. This is one thing that I really wished for when Ondoy hit and I got stuck in the hospital morgue overnight (it is a teaching hospital). Since mobile phones which have radios built in (as opposed to downloading an app) only have FM on it, there will be times that the Facebook newsfeed won’t be enough. Or if you prefer formal news, like when you get aroused on hearing of the latest turn of events about Mamasapano congressional hearings but online news agencies can’t create or speculate web content fast enough, you can always get a phone patch through the radio news.
Niche programming is back, in a way. There is no more NU 107.5 but Tiger 22 Media Corporation put out 2 stations for 2 different kinds of people: people who wish they are rockers and people who wish they’re in a club. That’s Jam 88.3 and 99.5 Play FM for you. Of course you can always convert to mp3 format that youtube video of Elvis Presley singing “Suspicious Minds” so Jam 88.3 has the Merch Crate, a promo tied in with their Facebook page that gives the lucky wiener a gift package full of souvenir items from local rock bands. 99.5 Play FM also has mixes straight from club DJs themselves, which will help you get out of that boring office. Just lock yourself in a sweaty closet and smoke cigarettes (please don’t try this). The dark and stuffy atmosphere and you will think that ‘there’s that cute guy over there, mind you don’t steal HIS cute guy.’
For stuffy, “amoy lupa”-types (we prefer the term, “old soul”), you always have 100.3 DZRJ with songs mostly from the 60’s and covers by Ramon Jacinto. You also have 98.7 FM (Master’s Touch) for classical music and Christian talk radio. There is a surprise as well if you go over to 104.3 DWBR. This is actually a government-run radio service that churns out surprisingly good quality music from the 30’s down to the 80’s. If you can stand the newsreaders with bad Filipino accents (as in p/f/b/v issues and diction), the news content is actually good that propaganda is not as bad as on the TV channel PTV4. Larry Henares, though he mostly quotes other people’s opinion columns, is always good.
For television, I am not talking about television series or the “Mahiwagang Black Box” sold by ABS-CBN to people too cheap to commit to cable yet can’t get enough for their Forevermore fix. Some TV channels have also changed, and what wonderful changes. Channel 9 I think is still with Solar and is now named CNN Philippines. It is not all news though. Bogart the Explorer appears in a comedy documentary reminiscent of Strangebrew and Matanglawin. Channel 5 still keeps pirating other TV channels’ stars, but their MovieMax features that dubs foreign movis in Filipino is so well-entrenched and popular, pirated DVDs actually record these and sell the dubbed copies. The government channel, PTV4 also has an innovation: Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office has 6/58 now and will give new bounds to exciting millions of Filipino people.
Well, it turns out these things are very awesome only when there is no free internet connection to be had. Key is, you have to know what to look for in order to enjoy them.