Your mental endurance? Turn on radio station...


January 05, 1994

WANT TO TEST your mental endurance? Turn on radio station WVRT-FM (104.3).

Capitol Broadcasting of Raleigh, N.C. recently bought the station, which used to play adult contemporary pop music under the nickname Variety 104. Capitol is trying to shoo that audience over to its other adult pop station in Baltimore, WWMX-FM (106.5).

So for a couple of weeks, Capitol is playing the same handful of songs over and over again on 104.3, interrupted only by a cryptic announcement that says "Format Under Construction," with the sound of jackhammers roaring in the background. (A new format for the station is to be announced Jan. 10.) "If you want variety, turn to 106.5 NOW," the announcer booms.

Ironically, 104.3 in its temporary form is delivering more variety among a half-dozen songs than anyone could possibly stand. The recurring selections jump schizophrenically -- and without commercial interruption -- from the Village People, the disco group of the '70s, to country crooner Billy Ray Cyrus, to classical music, to heavy metal.

After a few minutes of listening, you feel like a wet leaf that someone's trying to shake off his windshield wiper. It's an interesting case study in a radio station trying to force you not to listen.

Like the leaf, it's fun to try to hang on. You'll either find you have a uniquely eclectic taste for music -- or you'll understand why the U.S. military used similar tactics in Panama several years ago to drive General Manuel Noriega out of hiding.

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