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And the hits just keep on coming on T Radio [Oct. 9th, 2007|02:46 pm]
The Boston Community


This is a rather disturbing piece of news for those of us who enjoy preventing our ears from bleeding.

I found myself on the South Station platform around 2:00 pm this afternoon. Making my way to the end of the northbound platform, as I am wont to do, I heard a woman's voice reading off last night's lottery numbers. It sounded pretty loud and professional DJ-like, and I assumed someone had left a radio on in one of the work rooms next to the platform.

"This is so-and-so for T Radio," the woman said in an annoying yet chirpy voice. "See you on the train! Cha-ching! Cha-ching!"

Wait. What? "T-Radio?" It's coming from the platform speakers? Yup, it was.

Next thing I heard was a polished DJ voice -- the kind of disembodied voice you hear in the movie theaters telling you what insipid and forgettable R&B/pop song you just heard over the auditorium PA system before the previews begin. He also introduced himself from T Radio, and proceeded to read the same "Safety is our Number One concern at the T" announcement that the recorded voice of Dan Graubaskas has been reading for months now. Immediately afterwards, the voice launched into an ad for the Mass. Lottery, urging us all to make sure to try the new scratch-off game or whatever. At this point the volume of the announcement kept changing, from "sounds like it's behind that door" audible to REALLY FREAKING LOUD. Then it went silent altogether, making me wonder if I'd hallucinated the entire thing.

T Radio? Surely the T isn't thinking of running a constant stream of chatter and music on the platforms. Surely this is just a test and they'll recognize their folly and drop it. Surely nobody has Written To The Top complaining about the silence and lack of wallpaper media while waiting for their trains and why can't they play lively Adult Contemporary music. And surely nobody asked us whether or not we wanted to hear Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot", which eventually started playing over the speakers.

No, I'm not feeling hot hot hot. I'm still not feeling hot hot hot. I won't be feeling hot hot hot. Stop saying hot hot hot!

The proceedings weren't even interrupted by the automated voice announcing the train arrivals. They're on separate channels, apparently, so the two voices merged and we could HOT HOT HOT! barely hear the fact that HOT HOT HOT! the next train to HOT HOT Alewife HOT! was now arriving HOT HOT HOT!

The volume went up and down again a few times, then turned off completely just as the train was entering the station. They're testing this today, apparently. I'd be curious to know if it's going on during afternoon rush, too.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the wake of shoddy customer service, no information on delays, mishaps or otherwise, stranding passengers in trains so that they are forced to make their own evacuations and incredibly stupid decisions involving chained emergency exit gates ("No problem, we'll just remove the emergency exit signs"), the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has decided the best way to spend its money is on a system-wide radio network, forcing a captive --and paying-- audience to listen to loud, annoying music and ads for the Lottery. Billboards are one thing; they're visual, you can turn away and not look. Overhead music? Plug your ears, bucko, you ain't escaping this one.

This isn't the first time the T's experimented with mass media; back in the early 90s there were the television sets hung from the ceilings in Park Street and Downtown Crossing, among others. Remember them? They silently displayed the weather, ads, sports scores, that kind of thing, and each one had a little camera mounted on the bottom to monitor exactly how many people were watching it. Not enough were, apparently, and the TVs were removed after a few years. It's kind of hard to judge how many people are actively listening to your T Radio unless you want to count the number of people holding their ears during rush hour.

But what really really really pisses me off about this is the fact that we already have music in some of the T stations. They're called buskers. You seriously cannot tell me the T wishes to put the buskers out of business by blasting this stuff over all platforms and then telling us to buy scratch tickets. You can't do that. I don't believe it. I simply won't believe it.

This morning a guitarist in Davis was playing a reasonably nice guitar version of Your Song. He was picking the piano bits on the guitar, and doing a good job of it. Sure, Elton John isn't always my cup of tea, but the guitarist made the music his and that personal touch made it sound nice. I don't mind listening to that on the platform, and hey, a dollar or two in his guitar case helps him make his livelihood doing what he loves to do.

I am not, however, about to spend money on a monthly pass just to be a captive audience for Lottery commercials and Buster F'n Poindexter telling me all about how it's HOT HOT HOT.

I am seriously hoping this is just a test program, a pilot program, some kind of "hey let's see the reaction." If that's the case, then let the reaction be swift and let it be vituperative and angry. Trust me, you don't want this crap to listen to while you wait in frustration for a train that never comes.

Drop the T Radio, you goons, drop the loud ads and the "cha-ching! cha-ching!" lottery announcements and the music I avoid by not listening to Magic 106.7, and let the buskers do their thing.

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[User Picture]From: eeka13
2007-10-09 07:12 pm (UTC)
I just called the MBTA to register a complaint that I don't like this crap interfering with the subway performers program. The person I spoke to had no idea that T radio existed and had no idea that the subway performers program existed. Oy.
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[User Picture]From: derspatchel
2007-10-09 07:19 pm (UTC)
It may just be a test for South Station. I didn't hear it on any of the other platforms when we stopped; at least, not yet.

I'm still waiting to see if anybody else encounters it during afternoon rush, or if they were fiddling with it during low ridership times.
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From: shirt_seeker
2007-10-09 07:21 pm (UTC)

MBTA announcement (for your ears only)


grrrrtz grrrtz grrrrrtz, pssgrs, zzzzzz, grrrrtzzzz

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[User Picture]From: mkb_technologie
2007-10-09 07:34 pm (UTC)

Re: MBTA announcement (for your ears only)

once, at park street, there was a low drone and a rhythmic grinding noise coming out of the speakers. it was actually kind of neat.
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[User Picture]From: tb303
2007-10-09 07:32 pm (UTC)
I'd rather hear HOT HOT HOT than that stupid Charlie and the MBTA thing.

There's nothing dumber than the name "THE CHARLIE CARD".
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[User Picture]From: hrafn
2007-10-09 10:47 pm (UTC)
There's nothing dumber than the name "THE CHARLIE CARD".

Which is why it is /perfect/ for the MBTA.
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[User Picture]From: kpht
2007-10-09 07:35 pm (UTC)
You really need to provide links to the last 2 T posts of yours, because they were really brilliant and provide the backstory for at least the emergency exit and the red line debacle.
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[User Picture]From: krank_kether
2007-10-10 04:06 am (UTC)
okay, you need to stop using that icon... b0st0n shouldn't make me laugh about things like trailer park boys
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[User Picture]From: shadows783
2007-10-09 07:44 pm (UTC)
If this actually starts happening everywhere, I might have to beat someone. Damn.

That said, I didn't hear it on my commute this morning (Jackson Square/Downtown Crossing/Kendall).
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[User Picture]From: moocow1985
2007-10-09 09:27 pm (UTC)
I think that this brilliant new idea is only going to increase the incidents of homicidal rage among commuters.
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[User Picture]From: cottonmanifesto
2007-10-09 07:45 pm (UTC)
this made me laugh and cringe all at once, great work!
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[User Picture]From: professorglum
2007-10-09 07:52 pm (UTC)
Oh man, the subway performers are part of what I love about this city. I spent many a night playing down in the T stops when I first moved up here. That's just awful.

I'll be in the Central stop in a few minutes, I'll report back if I hear anything awful.
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[User Picture]From: thetathx1138
2007-10-10 12:13 am (UTC)
It runs about a 25% to 75% ratio for me. I really hate the Davis Square guy, not so much for his talent (he's a good player), but I just don't want to hear the stuff he plays in the morning. And anything that eradicates Downtown Crossing's Creepy Clown Man is a good thing.
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[User Picture]From: ifotismeni
2007-10-09 07:59 pm (UTC)
oh good god... i hope this was a fluke!
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[User Picture]From: unquietsoul5
2007-10-09 08:14 pm (UTC)
If they are testing, they will use it. And Abuse it. T-riders are not customers.... they are a 'captive market' for them to exploit in their minds.

I now live in dread of my next subway ride....
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[User Picture]From: thetathx1138
2007-10-10 12:13 am (UTC)
Welcome to the wonderful world of shrinking budgets. It means more ads.

I still hate the flipbooks more.
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[User Picture]From: davidn
2007-10-09 08:29 pm (UTC)
We've already had a passenger uprising - if this continues I can see Michael Douglas-type rampages starting before too long.
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[User Picture]From: whiteboy
2007-10-09 08:42 pm (UTC)
A few quick searches and I find that mbtaradio.com is registered by Pyramid Radio, Inc., who's home page says they create "customized audio entertainment designed to entertain your customers".

Could be they have a contract. Could be their looking for one. Either way, it looks like this is a pilot program to gauge reaction. You should send yours in the customer comment section at MBTA.com.
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From: dianalily
2007-10-09 11:10 pm (UTC)
Anyone remember when Pyramid owned KISS 108?
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[User Picture]From: ron_newman
2007-10-09 08:51 pm (UTC)
And I thought the T had reached an agreement with the street performers' group, ten or more years ago, that any TVs in the stations would not have sound.
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[User Picture]From: hoppzor
2007-10-09 08:59 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: derspatchel
2007-10-09 09:51 pm (UTC)
Your icon, I believe says it all.

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[User Picture]From: moocow1985
2007-10-09 09:00 pm (UTC)
I'll be passing through South Station if I ever get out of work today so I can report back on my findings.
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[User Picture]From: crack_rabbit
2007-10-09 09:11 pm (UTC)
Bastards! I will not be a victim of their insidious advertising! I will just turn up my iPod* and drown that crap out!

*Oh. Looks like the advertisers already got to me.

Seriously, though, this is equal parts annoying and sad. I really hope they don't drive all the buskers out. :(
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[User Picture]From: smileytypepers
2007-10-09 09:42 pm (UTC)
Yar...buskers make me happy on my otherwise annoying commute. :)
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