We Spend An Hour Listening To Dallas' New Korean Radio Station So You Don't Have To.
When regular listeners of Soul 73 KKDA 720-AM tuned in to the station on New Year's Day, they were no doubt shocked by what they heard. Folks expecting to flip on the radio and hear Teddy Pendergrass or Al Green — just as they had for the past 42 years — were instead greeted with the foreign sounds of the city's first entirely Korean-language station, Dallas Korean Radio.
The sudden flip didn't come as a complete surprise, though; Soul 73 had been almost entirely automated since last May, with playlist replacing the traditional (and, in most cases, revered) jocks. Still, the loss of a longstanding signal is always a little shocking — and for many Dallas residents a bit saddening.
But before immediately turning our backs on the new outfit — or otherwise foolishly treating them like they're solely responsible for eliminating one of our favorite styles — we decided to give the new station a listen. How could we say anything positive or negative about Dallas' newest radio station without giving it a shot first?
The thing I think most people loved about Soul 73 was hearing deep cuts and discovering similarly styled songs that they'd never heard before. That principle is definitely still in play with this new station, though. “Gangnam Style” aside, how many K-Pop tunes can anyone really name?
So, yesterday, I spent some time listening to the new Dallas Korean Radio station. It was an interesting experience — one I urge you all to try it at least once. Honestly, the only downsides to listening to the new station was the fact that the web stream went down for a considerable period of time at one point. Also, that the DJs talk seven-plus minutes in between every song, which is kind of a huge hurdle if you don't speak a word of Korean.
Here's how the experience went.
12:48 p.m.: I find the station's website and manage to turn some of its text to English with the help of Google Translate. Still, I can't manage to figure out which button is the live web stream.
12:49 p.m.: (Hint: It's the big red one.)
12:50 p.m.: What are those weird robot noises? Oh, it's just K-Pop! This is going to be fun.
12:53 p.m.: I'm not sure what that last song was called, but the DJ sure sounded excited about it. I write down “Asian Britney Spears singing a vaguely auto-tuned melody over vintage N'Sync beats and played back at double speed” in my notes on the off chance that my buddy teaching in Korea can tell me what this is so I can download it later. He's usually pretty good about being able to read my mind.
12:54 p.m.: I'm still not entirely sure what's happening. It sounds like the DJ is reading off a list of some sorts. Come on. Where are the tunes?
12:56 p.m.: Seriously, this is a lot of talking for what I expected to be a music station. Now the DJ is laughing. Oh, how I wish I was in on the joke.
12:57 p.m.: Yes! More K-Pop!
12:59 p.m.: The band Aqua must have done very well in Korea.
1:00 p.m.: Oh, cool! A slow jam! Does this still qualify as K-Pop? What are the rules? Do ballads count? I'm going to spend the next 3.5 minutes reading the “K-Pop” entry on Wikipedia.
1:02 p.m.: According to Wikipedia, the term K-Pop can apply to anything “consisting of pop, bubblegum pop, dance, electronic, electropop, hip-hop, rock, or R&B,” so long as it originates from South Korea.
1:04 p.m.: As I'm reading about “Korean Wave,” the stream crashes. Trying to reload now…
1:05 p.m.: Still not working. Where is that old clock radio I buried in the closet?
1:10 p.m.: While I refresh every few minutes, I decide to look more closely at the station's website. Does all of this station's content truly originate in Dallas?
1:12 p.m.: I look up the station's job board to see if they're hiring locally. I find the following, as translated by Google: “A fixed time, we do not have time anytime and anywhere promotional activities by relaxing time zone haejusimyeon. Payroll earnings allowance because the allowance will be paid 100 million won thorns lot going on the best performance occurs for up to 20 million won those who are ready. For further information, please contact the website.” Still not really sure if this means they're hiring or not.
3:01 p.m.: Aaaaand the stream's back. Finally.
3:05 p.m.: Seriously, why don't these guys play more than one song in a row?
3:09 p.m.: The hosts are singing “Happy Birthday” — and in English no less. Alright, I'm sucked in for another few minutes.
3:10 p.m.: Another slow jam. This one's got lots of MIDI chimes. Even if this all falls under the quote-unquote K-Pop umbrella, this station is still casting a pretty wide net with its selection of tunes. But, really, how many Koreans actually live here?
3:15 p.m.: A lot, turns out. After some quick Googling, I'm surprised to learn that Dallas has the second largest Korean community in the Southern United States behind only Atlanta.
3:18 p.m.: Seriously, there is a ton of talk on this station. They're most definitely not pandering to the non-Korean speaking residents of Dallas here. Guess this means they're the real deal, though, right? I mean, this obviously isn't just some attempt to cash in on Psy's crossover success here in the States. That's pretty refreshing, actually.
3:22 p.m.: I guess there's still not a good Korean translation for the term, “Hit me!” One of the singers just shouted that phrase, and kind of out of nowhere.
3:27 p.m.: Is what I'm hearing right now a commercial or one hell of a catchy 30-second pop song? I guess trying to figure this out is part of the fun.
3:33 p.m.: Seriously, this is way too much talking.
3:38 p.m.: Another slow jam. Sounds very Italian-influenced.
3:40 p.m.: Hey, a saxophone solo!
3:46 p.m.: No music for a really long time. Just lots and lots of talking. Again. The only word I have understood in the last 10 minutes has been “cholesterol.”
3:51 p.m.: It's been almost 15 minutes since they've played a song. In my hour of listening, I've I've heard exactly seven songs.
3:52 p.m.: OK, that's enough. That's probably all I'll ever listen to this station. Nothing against the music — that was pretty cool. And, I mean, I can't really begrudge the station for its language barrier, either, but that's kind of a big hurdle to overcome considering that I don't speak Korean. It's not the worst station ever, though. I guess that's the takeaway.