This is curious. A radio station for a road. Albeit a bloody big road.

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

WHAT:    The Highway Vibe

WHEN:  Tuesday 4 June 2013

Highway Radio

1217

Blurry/Puddle of Mudd
ID: The Highway Vibe

Good Time/Owl City & Carly Rae Jepson
Next to Me/Emile Sande

ID: Your vibe of Vegas is the Highway Vibe (vox of listeners)

ADS: Absinthe Show at Caesars/ Barbara Mandell Country Showdown – “with our sister station the Highway Country” – a country talent show for listeners with a big money prize/Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California/Experio UV lens sunglasses/Rental Centre

1230

TRAFFIC: A blur of beautifully read information including some fabulous ‘only in America’ travel phrases “Southbound on the 15 between Baker and Barstow, another wreck ..” “Just by the Desert Oasis rest area” … and “on the 18, a plugging operation for Cal Trans in that area”. Sponsored by a lawyer, looking for victims of disease brought on by working in a particular industrial plant. “The latest weather Vibe is hot.” You don’t say? Here in the desert?  “Overnight lows, mid to upper 70s in Vegas, 40s in the high desert. Hear traffic and weather at the top and bottom of every hour on the Highway Vibe”

AD: Souters.com cars “up the hill in Barstow.”

ID: The Highway Vibe

Lego House/Ed Sheeran
Firework/Katy Perry

SUMMARY

Highway Radio is actually a network of three stations, with one audience. People travelling to Vegas from California. 400,000 watts of FM to cover 40,000 square miles of empty desert – empty but for one very important feature; Interstate 15. With the population centres at either end of the Mojave, Highway Radio’s website reckons it can give you a can-you-believe-it 14 million tourists in a 4-6 hour period, 35% of whom don’t know where they’re staying yet.

The closest we ever got to something like this was Channel Travel Radio. But that was a few tired watts on a drizzly A2.

Last time I listened to a Highway Radio station, it was in situ on the 15, and it was one of those times when a station felt totally of its place.

But it seems there have been some byzantine ownership and format changes since then.

Back then, the music was right, there was a good journey-man jock, either live or expertly voice-tracked. There were well-produced ‘What’s on in Vegas’ bulletins, and the travel/weather was as good as it was in this listen.

Now it seems like a shadow of its former self (or should that be an echo?). The music still worked, I guess. And the travel was expertly presented.

When you’re out of the hills, the excitement of Vegas at the end of the 15, stretching ahead of you for six hours, it’s not long before the FM stations of Southern California start fizzing and popping. If you want to avoid the ‘swivel eyed loons’ of AM talk radio (and you don’t have SiriusXM) the three computers-in-a-cupboard at Barstow are providing a valuable – and romantic – service.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

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