More realistically, however, I was hoping "Nine FM" would be a bit more like old school XRT...less commercials, a wider playlist and more cutting-edge new releases. (or ideally like the old "99 Plus" KFMH-FM out of Muscatine/Davenport, IA...anybody from Iowa remember that one??)
The reality, unfortunately, is that "Nine FM" really doesn't sound vastly different than any other commercial Chicago station. It basically just sounds as if you're hitting the seek button in the car...a few songs from XRT, a few from The Drive, The Loop, The Mix, etc. Except, of course, "Nine" does the work for you and puts them all on one frequency. It sounds like a great idea, but when listening for an extended period of time, it can be rather frustrating.
For example, just as soon as you start enjoying a good classic rock set, they throw in something like "Shoop" by Salt n' Peppa. Rather than sounding like a fully-stocked iPod with thousands of great songs, the end result of listening to Nine is more like having an annoying sibling constantly changing channels in the passenger seat. Even with hip new tracks from Franz Ferdinand, The Darkness, The Postal Service, Snow Patrol and The Hives thrown into mix, I still can't seem to listen to Nine for more than one or two songs.
I think the concept of "we play anything" can work, but they need to work on the flow better. For example, why not play a full 30 minute block of one genre and then segue to a 30 minute block of something else...rather than trying to squeeze in 5 different genres or sounds in a 15-minute set? I'm sure the answer has something to do with ratings or research, but hey, the whole concept of Nine is that they're throwing out all of the typical commercial radio rules, right?
Despite my less than stellar first impression...I still really want to like "Nine" (maybe it will get better??) and hope that it becomes a success in the market. You've got to respect their "no rules" approach and the fact that they're trying to do something different on the commercial airwaves. I also really like their on-air line-up (well, except for that morning guy). Sky Daniels is great in the afternoons and it's nice to hear Johnny Mars (formerly 'XRT) back on the air, as the night host on "Nine."
So check out 99.9FM yourself and let me know what you think... I don't think it will be the "savior" of Chicago radio, but it will might make a nice addition to the car stereo presets of suburban commuters.