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October 11th, 2007


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11:16 am - T-Radio: REAL crap for REAL people
You heard it here first, folks, and I wish you hadn't, but it's official, and here's the press release: MBTA Launches T - Radio Pilot Program.

The test is starting in North Station, South Station, and Airport. Let's see what the press release says and, I warn you, I have a very low tolerance for glossed-over PR language full of words and euphemisms and signifying nothing. Let's hope nothing like that is given to us today!
Today, T-customers at MBTA's North Station, South Station, and Airport platforms will experience a unique information and entertainment pilot program designed specifically with them in mind.
Uh oh. The last part of that sentence is pure and utter PR hogwash wrapped up in a feelgood chocolate coating. "Designed specifically with them in mind" just means "we identified our target demographic and now it's time to exploit the hell out of 'em."
T-Radio is an expertly programmed radio format where informative news, entertainment and safety announcements are seamlessly integrated with music to appeal to Boston’s multi-cultural T-rider demographics.
"Expertly programmed" means absolutely nothing other than "We'll try not to come out of a tragic news story on a house fire with Disco Inferno." And as for the multi-cultural demographics? Well... today when I strolled through South Station, I was treated to a DJ coming out of U2's "Mysterious Ways" with a story having to do with Thomas Edison and the invention of the light bulb, which was merely a setup for the punchline of "Of course, Al Gore probably said he created it first... oh chuckle chuckle, so much for the Lighter Side of the News..."

So, apparently, Boston's multi-cultural T-rider demographic (honestly, this demographic really is "people who are waiting for trains") is just begging for inane morning DJ chatter, plus innovative takes on such DJ cliches as "...and I'll be here with you..." ("...and I'll be here for the ride...") and stale jokes which are almost old enough to purchase cigarettes.
MBTA General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas said, "This is a great opportunity to provide the customer with up-to-date information in an engaging and entertaining format. Providing news, sports and weather along with service alerts while also promoting destinations that can be accessed via public transportation are just a few of the many features available on T–Radio..."
Don't forget the ads, Danny! Don't forget the "seven-figure cash windfall" for the T on this! Can't forget those! And it really is a shame the T commuters don't really have any other way of getting news, sports and weather while trapped underground. If only there were these two people near the entrances of every station with bundles of news printed on foldable paper, handing them out for free or something.

And here's what the president of Pyramid Radio, Rich Balsbaugh, the guy behind Kiss 108 and the man who stands to make bargeloads of cash money for this deal, has to say in the name of spin:
"Pyramid Radio designs creative audio entertainment and blends it with pertinent information for real people..."
Oh, look! Another useless press release sentence. Good thing we weren't playing a drinking game or else we'd all be completely blotto by now. As there's no way of saying "We wanted to put in constant music and ads" without having to spin it with uselessly optimstic euphemisms, they reach for those euphemisms and come up with some real doozies. PERTINENT information for REAL people! (as opposed to useless information for replicants?) What a great slogan! What an awesome sound bite! What a complete lack of meaning altogether! That sentence right there is just glossed-over froo-frah that means "we maks radio mak musics and then mebe the nooz and ads." This ghastly writing is all so eye-rollingly transparent, I don't understand why it's such an industry standard. Who buys into it? Who goes down to the platform and thinks "...yeah! This really was designed with me in mind! This really is pertinent information for real people, and I should know, cause I'm one of them!" Why not just say T-Radio will play "the best hits of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and today, plus lyrics that won't embarass you in front of your kids?"
T-Radio encompasses music across the last five decades up to and including current chart hits.
Oh.

Frankly, here's what the T saw: Riders reading free Metro and BostonNOW newspapers. Riders listening to their own music on their iPods or listening to the buskers who truly create "creative audio entertainment." But most importantly, they saw paying riders standing idly about when they could be listening to ads. Well! they thought. Why not take over the whole shebang? We gets the money, and buskers get the shaft, and mainstream media was on its way out anyway and everybody was making fun of the Metro to begin with, so no big loss. Suddenly the lottery lady's "cha-ching! cha-ching!" catchphrase takes on a whole new meaning. Thankfully, there's hope, however potentially falsely given, at the end of the press release:
...customers will soon be able to leave feedback directly via MBTA.com. Customer feedback will determine whether T-Radio is kept at the three stations and the possibility of it being expanded throughout the system.
Here's the link to provide feedback. While I hope there's enough public outcry to make them reconsider, honestly it's going to take a lot of outcry for them to drop this potential cash cow that they've already sunk a lot of money into.

Still, they can't consider it if they don't get enough yelling. Time to yell (well, at least, time to yell politely, I mean.)

(43 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:celestial_axis
Date:October 11th, 2007 04:22 pm (UTC)
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This sucks for the buskers and I'm going to tell them so. I would MUCH rather hear the flute guy in the morning or the guitar guy in the evening than that STUPID radio!
From:suite6
Date:October 21st, 2007 04:28 am (UTC)

STOP T- RADIO - new easy link, just google and sign!

(Link)
Complaints sent to the MBTA can be doctored or just deleted.
Sign the permit with a live busker sign online at Stop T-Radio.
Tell your friends.
[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:October 11th, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
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You think they'll play Dire Straits' "Walk of Life?"
From:sbernardi
Date:October 16th, 2007 01:50 am (UTC)
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I bet if you ask nicely they'll play it...
what time you usually hearing T-Radio?
[User Picture]
From:pushupstairs
Date:October 11th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
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here's what I sent to the MBTA (feedback form and also via email to as many executives' emails I could think of):

T-Radio is horrible. Make it stop. The Metro and BostonNOW hawkers every 15 feet in the vicinity of T stops are bad enough (and I've told them so, as well), but having to be bombarded with music, news and last but not least ADVERTISING that I have no means to escape if I'm waiting for a subway train? That's insulting.

If T-Radio is still being played in any MBTA station two weeksfrom now, I will leave the T and never come back. The horrible service, delays, getting trapped on subway cars for 45 minutes, being berated, sworn at, almost run over and quite nearly assaulted by MBTA employees, having the cost of a fare increase while service degrades even further, all while my "Written To The Top" complaints have fallen on deaf ears... these things have driven me to the brink of sanity, but T-Radio is the last straw.
[User Picture]
From:acsumama
Date:October 11th, 2007 05:07 pm (UTC)
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Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh.
[User Picture]
From:bostonista
Date:October 11th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
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Please cross-post to b0st0n, if you haven't already.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 11th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)
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I know Ron Newman posted the link to the press release there yesterday. Would my (admittedly hilarious and well-written PR deconstruction) dissertation deserve a second post on the subject?
[User Picture]
From:marphod
Date:October 11th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
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My feedback:

I'm greatly disappointed to read about the T Radio pilot program.

While I understand that the MBTA is looking for new sources of income, and the potential advertising income is a large windfall, this seems to be a step entirely in the wrong direction.

Ignoring the cost of setting up the infrastructure, should this plan fail, there seems to me to be many other priorities that would garner good will and consideration from the riding public, that do not involve invading my personal space with unavoidable announcements and music and so-called entertainment targeted at the riding audience.

Not to mention that this is competition with the Busker program, which actually provides entertainment and exposure for new talent. Also, this system will ultimately fail if the MBTA's ability to maintain speakers for emergency announcements remains as poor as it has been.

Perhaps you should focus on providing actual rider services (like people in the help booths, which I've found empty more often than not, since the Charlie Card transition). Or, perhaps, improving infrastructure such that if there are power outages or fire, there is actual support for trapped riders.

The MBTA has enough embarrassments. Please do not add another.

I, personally, will be avoiding purchases at any advertiser I hear on T Radio, and will endeavor tell them why.


Sincerely,

Galen G Silversmith
From:archangelsk
Date:October 11th, 2007 05:13 pm (UTC)
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I want a goddamn concerted effort to come out of an exit, that isn't a — a fucking entrance exit, every time I do a goddamn trash fire near a station! This is the last goddamn time. I want somebody to use his fucking brain to not come out of a goddamn platform that is a — Red Line, and I gotta talk about a fucking train stopping! What is this? This is fucking ponderous, man.

This is American Top 40, right here on the radio you grew up with, T-Radio Pilot... oh, fuck.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 11th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
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That's the letter U, and the numeral 2.
From:ruthling
Date:October 11th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)

thanks for the direct link

(Link)
I commented:
I have not yet heard this "radio" station and I hope I don't. Who needs more audio when there's already more than enough noise in the average T station? Who needs more ads when the T cars, stations, floors, etc. are already covered with them? And what will happen when, as inevitably will, the audio system craps out and sounds like the current notification systems (which rarely work or supply useful information when they do). Please reconsider this policy and concentrate on providing clean, safe and timely transportation. No gimmicks, no more visual and audio clutter than already exists. Thanks.
[User Picture]
From:genarti
Date:October 11th, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
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Blergh.

I don't know what if any good it'll do, but I did leave feedback:

T-Radio is a terrible idea. Please reconsider, and get this intrusive pablum out of the stations.

If I want music in the T station, I'll listen to the buskers. I'm glad to have the chance to listen to and support local talent that way. Or, like most people, I'll bring along an iPod or cd player so that I can listen to my own music, selected to suit my own tastes. I don't want to have mediocre pop hits and painfully meaningless DJ chatter piped in to "entertain" me. If I want news on the T, I'll read the Metro; if I want entertainment, I'll read a book or listen to my own music. T-Radio is enough to make me want to invest in a set of earplugs for the ride.

Please don't foist this on your customers. Providing a "service" that nobody wants is not customer service; it's intrusive advertising and annoyance, and I resent and dislike it. I plan, in fact, to avoid purchasing any products I hear advertised on T-Radio. Annoying me and intruding on my travel is not a way to entice me to buy anything, nor a way to endear me to the MBTA.

Thank you for listening to your customers, and taking T-Radio off the air.
[User Picture]
From:chadnfrood
Date:October 11th, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
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Your recent spate of posts about the shortcomings of the T have really made me appreciate the NYC subway system. The other day police had to investigate a crime at the 86th street stop. So the 1 train I was on stopped at 79th. We waited less than 5 minutes, and every minute or so the conductor explained the delay to passengers getting on the train. Also, we're getting cell phone reception in our stations, not bad radio.
[User Picture]
From:spwebdesign
Date:October 11th, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC)
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And I the London Underground.
From:kevin_church
Date:October 11th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC)
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Here's what I wrote:

Fuck you fucking cockfuck bitch sluts.

Also, play some fucking Skynrd, fucktards


I hope it gets to the right people.

[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 11th, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
MORE ROCK, LESS TALK
GET THE "LED" OUT ON T-RADIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
[User Picture]
From:allicat42
Date:October 11th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
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I -love- your posts.

On a completely RANDOM note... a friend of mine on LJ is lusting after http://www.ecookbooks.com/p-20821-the-bacon-cookbook.aspx?affiliateid=10097 I thought you might find it entertaining. *grynz*
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:pecosy
Date:October 12th, 2007 02:35 am (UTC)
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The email field is not required :)
[User Picture]
From:joenotcharles
Date:October 11th, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
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Meanwhile, in Montreal we get our metro cars turned into art installations.
From:zhym
Date:October 11th, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
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You just know this is all the fault of someone using the phrase "marketing synergies.

You also know that MBTA will look at the money, look at the overwhelmingly negative comments on the feedback page, then pull the three positive comments and publish them as "Overwhelming support for T-Radio!"

Cynical? Me?

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