Rock is personal. The songs you like and the bands whose albums you collect all have meaning for you and all make your ganglia twitch in a particular way...songs of happines, songs of anger, songs of fresh love, songs to cry into your beer over. This was and is the great strength of the good rock stations; the DJs play the music they wanted to hear and you rocked out with them. This is part of the reason Earl Root still holds forth on KFAI after almost twenty years of head-slammin' metal fervor. He loves metal, all kinds of metal, from Old School Judas Priest and Metal Church to tardcore and death metal. All grist for the mill. Even on stations that have a playlist, somebody is making the decisions about what to play when, and it's not all driven by money or requests or what the top 100-selling crappy songs are according to Billwhored Magazine.
This cult of personality is precisely what's missing from Jack. There's no sense that anybody's running the show; it's just thirty years worth of hit songs loaded onto somebody's hard drive and set to shuffle, with no sense of what songs go after each other or what songs set the mood for a Monday after the Twins have decisively squashed the Yankees. It sucks. 104.1 has been really bad about format switching over the last few years as the station owners/managers desperately search for something, anything to topple KQRS from its dominance of the locla ratings chart. It's a waste of time. They need to accept the fact that they're always going to be the third or fourth choice of the local listening market and find a good niche for themselves to fill. All the switching just confuses people, and this new format is sufficiently impersonal that I don't even want to bother with it.
Michele has some comments on the passing of WABC as well. She and Professor Althouse like 60s music more than I ever did. Obviously.
6/7/05 Update Add Mitch Berg to the list of folks unimpressed with Jack.