Call-in lines? Email requests? Begging by text? Jelli says forget all that. The new listener-controlled radio format hit the FM dial last week, and wouldn’t you know it, Las Vegas gets to play guinea pig. Stations 94.5 and 96.7 feature content chosen by the whims of its users, at jelli.com and through Jelli’s iPhone app. Listeners can vote for or against potential selections, “rocket” or “bomb” a tune up or down in the standings and even help knock a track off-air midsong by tapping the “sucks” pad.
So how does DJ-less radio sound? Predictably, pretty lame. On 94.5, Papa Roach, Shinedown and Staind fought for July 4 rock supremacy, while 96.7’s top 40 format saw DJs (David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia) mix it up with Britney Spears, Usher and, um, Keane in a nonsensical hodgepodge. Part of the problem is the limited song pool. On 94.5, for example, there’s only one Radiohead song (yep, “Creep”), one Arcade Fire number (“Ready to Start”) and, perhaps most egregious here in Vegas, just four Killers choices. Also this just in: Good radio DJs tend to have better DJ know-how than random people tuning in on their phones.
If you’re really looking to play DJ, a far more interesting option is the beta-testing turntable.fm. If just one of your Facebook friends is a member, you can sign up and begin bobbing your head—and helping others bob theirs—in dozens of listening rooms ranging from indie to metal to hip-hop and way, way beyond. Meet up in “Shpongleland” anybody?