Mood Whiplash / Radio

  • Radio has its own term for this trope: "train wreck." A “train wreck” transition is radio lingo for programming two songs in a row that are not normally heard — or not normally heard back-to-back — on the same station. Often, a commercial might be used to segue one song of a particular style into one that is patently different. For instance, Helen Reddy's 1973 easy-listening smash hit "Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)" transitioning into Guns 'n' Roses' 1988 heavy metal song "Sweet Child O'Mine" at a classic hits station. Almost all of the time, this can be avoided; one of the few exceptions is radio countdown programs (e.g., American Top 40 and American Country Countdown, which, since they use chart information to determine a playlist, oftentimes cannot always avoid playing a soft ballad before or after an uptempo song).
  • This American Life: One episode ("Fall Guy", aired June 28, 2009) jumps from a comedian talking about his beatdown-filled freshman year of high school as part of his routine, to a sobering story about Lynndie England and the Abu-Ghraib prison scandal.
  • The Mercury Theatre Of The Air production of The War of the Worlds, as part of the conceit that a Martian invasion was happening, switched back and forth between news remotes about a meteorite striking New Jersey and a jaunty dance-music program starring "Ramon Raquello and His Orchestra".
  • American Top 40: The reason for Casey Kasem's (in)famous Cluster F-Bomb outtake. For the September 14, 1985 program, Kasem had been given a Long Distance Dedication letter from a listener in Cleveland, Ohio, paying tribute to the listener's dog who had just died. Narmish in and of itself, the issue arose when Kasem realized — perhaps belatedly — that the requested song (Henry Gross' 1976 ballad "Shannon") was positioned after an uptempo dance song ("Dare Me" by the Pointer Sisters). Perhaps a recurring issue (positioning uptempo songs before or after songs of a completely different style when it could have been avoided), or simply frustrated that he had to read another tribute to what he viewed as tripe letter (and that the requested song was slotted after a dance song was the last straw), Kasem finally lost his patience and went into a tirade. Yes, for the record, Kasem eventually calmed down and was able to record a take that made it to air; and rarely was the "train wreck" transition an issue again.
  • The late Scottish folk-singer Jean Redpath was a frequent guest on A Prairie Home Companion and once remarked in an interview that what she most admired about Garrison Keillor was his ability, whilst storytelling, to bring an audience from the point of tears to the point of hysterical laughter and back again within the space of just two or three sentences.
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