Another One Goes Country

Back in the 70s and 80s top FM stations played rock music. It was music of the 60s and 70s (and later 80s) because that was current and popular. Ironically, that is the exact same music played by classic rock stations today. It might include Nirvana, Pearl Jam or Coldplay, but it is still based on a world where Stairway to Heaven and Freebird duke it out every year for number one song.

When I arrived in the Triangle for college in 1983, the venerable rock station everyone listened to, including unhip college who had yet to discover “college radio,” was WQDR. This was the station everyone in the area grew up listening to. In 1984, the station changed its format to country and has been the number one station in the market for over 20 years. Around the same time, a new rock station entered the market,WRDU.

On the last day of WQDR’s rock programming, one particular DJ signed off in the morning, and showed up on WRDU in the evening. Not only was this a great stunt, but it passed the mantle to the new station.

For many years, WRDU was king of rock, but as radio audiences have slipped, so too has WRDU. It has been many, many years since I have listened to it. The format has become very dated. Radio has become less relevant. How many times can you listen to your favorite song from when you where 12, now that you are in your 40s or 50s? What is the difference between classic rock and oldies these days?

Last week, WRDU, now owned by Clear Channel Communications, changed its format to country and is calling itself 106 The Rooster. So far the format has stuck, convincing listeners that it was not just a stunt, called flipping, where a station changes formats briefly, before settling on it real new format.

The now much smaller mantle has been passed to Clear Channel sister station The River. This is a station that has switched many times, including from Oldies to its current classic rock format.

I found the parallels interesting, even though my radio listening is limited to NPR, and has been for years. Even that has lessened as I listen to podcasts on my ipod.

New Search Engines?

With such Google dominance, it is interesting that a couple new search engines are getting some ink. The first is ixquick. In the interest of user privacy, this meta search engine does not store user search information, IP address or other identifying information.

“This new feature of our search engine ensures both optimal privacy protection and maximum search performance for our customers, since they will be able to search using the 11 best search engines without their personal data being recorded,” says Ixquick spokesman Alex van Eesteren.

The other is searchmash, which may or may not actually be a Google-owned site used to test new features.

Popcorn Time

It is Cub Scout Popcorn Time again. Peter asked me to email the message below to people who bought popcorn last year. We have some popcorn now or we can order it for November delivery.

Thank you for buying popcorn from me last year. Would you like to buy popcorn again from me this year?

We have the same kind of popcorn as last year, but also have one new kind of popcorn, a 5-way chocolate tin.

My two best sellers last year were Butter Lite and the Small Caramel Corn.

Let my dad know if you would like to buy some. The kinds and prices are listed below.


Small Caramel Corn $9
Microwave Butter Lite (15 bags) $14
Microwave Butter (15 bags) $14
Caramel Corn $16
Chocolate Caramel Corn $16
Cheese Tin $30
3-Way Tin (Chocolate/Caramel Corn/Cheese) $40
5-Way Chocolate Tin (2 Kinds of Chocolate Caramel Corn/2 Kinds of Chocolate Pretzels/Chocolate Peanut Clusters) $50

Bullock’s BBQ

This weekend we went to Bullock’s BBQ for lunch. It’s been a while since we ate the best barbeque around. If you are a fan of Eastern NC barbeque (chopped pork with a vinegar based sauce), this is the place. Over the years, there have been some other barbeque joints in the area, but none of them can last against the best.

When I was in college, we used to go and get family style. The servers brought plates loaded with fried chicken, barbeque, brunswick stew, cole slaw, green beans, cooked apples, hush puppies and tea so sweet it made your teeth hurt.

We were not a family style crowd for this meal, so I got a traditional combo of barbeque and brunswick stew. It comes with a side of cole slaw. Everything was perfect. Perfect barbeque. Fantastic brunswick stew. And just the right kind of slaw to go with it. Next time you are in Durham you owe it to yourself to go to Bullocks.

By the way, this spring is my 20th College Reunion, so the college days are frequently on my mind. I don’t know yet if I will go to the reunion.

Driving in Durham

On a recent drive through Durham I realized that the decades long construction is now finished, or nearly finished. As you merge from 15-501 (two roads that run concurrent through Chapel Hill and Durham in such a manner that they are really one road) onto I-85, the highway is now 10 lanes across with brick walls along the sides to keep the road sounds on the road.

When I arrived in Durham for college over 20 years ago this merge was a dangerous spot where you had a short space to get into only 2 lanes of interstate traffic coming from Greensboro. There were also two lanes going in the other direction. If a truck was on the road as you tried to merge, you had to hange on, because there was just no place to go. There is plenty of room now.

Things are also very different when traveling in the other direction, heading south on I-85 and needing to exit on 15-501 to head to Duke or Chapel Hill. This exit had always been on the left. Getting into a left hand exit lane (the fast lane) had always been a harrowing experience when their were only 2 lanes in your direction. Not only are there more lanes, but the exit is on the right. There was a certain charm about a left hand exit. It kind of went with a road called 15-501.

Grace’s Never-ending Birthday

Last Saturday was Grace’s birthday party. We had a bowling party at Mardi Gras bowling lanes. These days bowling for kids, and especially at a birthday party, is about some many other things than bowling. There is a video screen showing music videos of things like Crazy Frog (video), which started as a UK ringtone and became known as the most annoying thing in the world. This means plenty of dancing from our gathering of 1st grade girls (and two boys).

Birthday parties also have a DJ/MC. He incites the kids and gets them to run away from the lanes towards his corner location. He asks trivia questions so he can away free bowling games. Some kids had 3 or 4 free games clutched in their hands. Anything to get the kids to come back with their paying parents. He also encourages to run around and scream at the top of their lungs. This is why you have birthday parties in locations other than your home.

Our time in the party room was spent eating Spiderman cake and opening presents. This is quite a change, and a quick one at that, from a kid who had a royal ball party for 4 to have a Spiderman Bowling Party at 6. We opened plenty of presents from the kids in attendance.

That night we went out to dinner with my folks at the Bonefish Grill for Grace’s birthday dinner. He had been going to Kanki, a Japanese steak house where they patchki on the table, for years for birthday dinners, but we wanted to avoid sodium overload this year.

Wednesday, Grace’s actual birthday, we woke her up to all her birthday singing animals. Earlier in the month Grace bought herself a Build-a-Bear frog and installed a Happy Birthday song in it. She called it her birthday present to herself, and that’s why she put the birthday song in it. We also played her Happy Birthday Bear to help her wake up.

Meg made cookies for Grace’s class and ate lunch in the cafeteria with her. Her jumprope team sang her Happy Birthday during practice. And finally we had another dinner (at Aunt Kathy’s), another cake (ice cream cake from Cold Stone) and more presents (including a Spiderman motorcycle and a robot from Radio Shack).