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NU DJs describe the changing music landscape
WHEN news broke out that NU107 was ending its rock format of 23 years and switching to a populist (masa) format, its loyal base was outraged. One fan said ?decent stations? were in decline in the Philippines, and what was replacing NU was ?another jologs station, one for the masa.?

The sentiment approximates that of former NU107 chief radio announcer and musical director Francis Reyes, aka Francis Brew. ?We [NU staff] all felt disappointment, anger. But I?ve always been aware of the station?s recent financial problems.?

?Friends tell me there?s no where else on the dial to turn,? said former NU DJ Cyrus Fernandez.

Cyrus and Francis bear no ill will toward so-called masa stations, but both agree listeners should have a choice. ?I wish radio would make people think. NU did that.? said Cyrus. ?If you speak English, you?re labeled ?elitista,?? said Francis.

?The Pinoy is defensive about it: ?eto na ako, hanggang dito lang ako.? Yes, masa stations reflect the taste and style of many Filipinos. But radio can also be aspirational, about leaving comfort zones.?

?None of us [former NU staff] are responsible for what the station is reformatting into,? he added.

NU?s end is a major upheaval in the Philippine music industry, much like MTV Philippines?s was early this year. Francis said, ?Other stations know there?s a vacuum now.?

Magic 89.9?s Tony Toni said the spectrum of music being broadcast locally was already small when NU folded. ?It?s just pop or masa. NU helped other music thrive.?

While he realizes that the music industry is about numbers, he says the end of NU was nonetheless ?an awakening.? He hoped ?a new breed? of advertisers would be emboldened to set up a new rock station.

Cyrus also hoped a future station would pick up NU?s mantle as champion of rock.

Audiences and the way they listen to music have irrevocably changed.

Francis said people no longer take the time to ?invest? in listening to music. ?When I was younger, if I heard a song I liked on the radio, I?d pick up the single. If I liked it, I?d buy the album. I?d take time to learn what the band was about.?

According to Francis, people?s attentions are divided by the plethora of music offerings. Instant access through online music sharing and downloading has made listeners fickle.

?Everything is reduced to a soundbite,? said Francis. ?If you pay attention [to the artists and their music], that makes you special.?

It was no secret to NU DJs that their pay was low.

?I always told those who?d audition for us, ?You?re not going to get rich here.? I?d recommend them to Magic, Jam, or RX.? Kim Marvilla called NU ?the lowest paying station.?

Pontri Bernardo noted that call centers were a higher paying job, ?Hindi tulad dito sa amin.?

Francis drew similarities between call center and DJ training: Both required mastery of English and good inflection. He said it was hard to find intelligent people who wanted to join NU in the last few years. ?Both DJ-ing and being a call center agent required the same skills. Call centers paid more.?

?We didn?t do it for the money, but for the passion,? said Kim. Tony said ?Lugi na nga si Atom (NU owner Atom Henares) dito, but he just kept it going because of his love for rock.?

Cyrus was aware even when he was in college that radio was a dying industry, but pursued a DJ job nonetheless.

Francis said he stayed ?for the people, the music.?

Francis, who played guitar for long-running band The Dawn, discussed longevity in today?s industry. ?If you want longevity, you have to market yourself. If you?re playing metal, part of your image is long hair and leather clothes. Some musicians refuse to market themselves, but they need to. And you just need to write good songs.?

Tony emphasized treading the line between business and character in radio. ?Be open to advertisers, but stick to your [music] game plan. You have to be selective about your music and presenters, because it?s a business.

?You have to be open about moving on.?

?Rock has a wide audience,? said Cyrus. ?You just need to know how to market the music.?

Despite the Internet being a double-edged sword for the music industry, it is where new music will emerge.

Francis hopes to continue ?In the Raw,? his radio showcase of new bands, online.

Cyrus sees the Internet as the new venue for music.

Tony listed Splintr.com and Internet rock radio as the forms music will thrive in.

The NU jocks are planning a reunion in Francis?s house. ?Of course,? he said. ?We?re going to reunite on the ninth and 40th day. Something died. We were a part of it.?