Wednesday, September 27, 2023 Sep 27, 2023
94° F Dallas, TX

It’s All Yuppie Muzak To Me

By Jeff Posey |

New Age music: dreamy synthesizers and soft acoustics. No politically relevant lyrics, no screaming guitars, and catching on fast.

In Dallas, Kiss-FM changed to New Age last September, and now calls itself KOAI-FM, ’”The Oasis.” In the January quarterly Arbitron ratings. The Oasis moved up swiftly, beating out KMGC-FM. And in November, KERA 90.1 FM changed its purely classical daytime format to an “eclectic” one including, you guessed it. New Age music.

“It’s interesting,” says Randy Brown, program director at The Oasis, “that the same people who are turning to this format are in the same group that twenty years ago was getting tired of AM radio. And that gave birth to album-oriented rock and later to FM.” Rick Wagner, a thirty-seven-year-old Dallas real estate investor who listens to New Age music, says, “The alluring thing is the prettiness of the music. It’s non-stressful.”

KERA’s music director, Craig Allen, is skeptical of New Age music as a pure format, and he says KERA uses it mainly as a transitional sound from, say, classical music to acoustical folk or jazz. “In small doses it works out very nicely,” he says, “whereas a whole album can get boring or repetitive.”

But what does it mean, sociologically, to go from a wired, rock ’n’ roll sound to a mellow, tranquilized sound? “What New Age music says about our generation,” says Wagner, “is that it’s not going anywhere very fast.”