Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Radio's hazing days of summer

There’s nothing like forcing a bunch of college-aged teens into a host of pointlessly uncomfortable and somewhat revolting situations with the promise and lure of acceptance as an end goal; most colleges, universities and sports organizations call this hazing. But in the zany world of pop radio, it’s called broadcast gold.

And for FLY 92, it’s a genius way to get adolescents to tune in and tune out. Here’s concept: offer 10 desperate high school grads $10,000 worth of tuition money for staying on a sweltering hot school bus together without sleep and see who cracks first. Then to make things interesting, slather them with food products, deprive them of showers and submit them to a whole host of screwball “challenges” while parked in the public view at the sprawling CrossGates Mall in Albany.

Although difficult to gauge the financial need of these students from the whimsical bio’s posted on the station’s Website, it’s pretty safe to say from their places of origin that they’re in need of tuition money. After all, there aren’t too many kids with a full ride who would willingly subject to such humiliation during a month before they ship off to school.

For those not as desperate, there’s another scholarship available through the station for listeners, albeit half the size. Anyone can trek on down to the area Key Bank and wager on which of the students will win the contest.

All in all, the contest is a fairly dismal commentary for higher education in the United States when the first test an incoming pre-frosh must take involves bobbing in slop for chance to take a shower. Worse yet, is that sizeable scholarships –defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as the methods, discipline, and attainments of a scholar –are being given to kids who are in essence hazing themselves. And as anyone who’s been to college knows, administrators don’t exactly smile when they hear the word hazing mentioned in the context of their institution.

Also, there’s a fairly sordid message that’s being sent out via FLY 92’s attempt to get a leg up in the Neilson Ratings: kids, don’t bother with excelling in high school or in philanthropic life because we’ve got a scholarship waiting here for you, as long as you can wear this chocolate sauce and sit cramped on a bus. Were the radio station or the contest’s sponsors really concerned about getting people into college, maybe they’d offer a scholarships for students who apply what they’ve learned in high school to helping their community.

Then again, the U.S. Army and Key Bank are the sponsors, both of whom have a vested interest in post grads not getting scholarships. Hey contest losers, if the bank won’t float you a student loan, there’s always the army. And if that’s not enough to get you in school, there’s always FLY 92’s Army Adventure series, which also boasts a $10,000 scholarship.

Better yet, just join the damn army and get it over with. Signup now and they’ll enter you into the contest of a lifetime; it’s called boot camp.

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