Airwaves do matter. No wish to be argumentative, just that radio has played a big role in my life, so it's important to me to question this common wisdom. There are a lot of people who still 'use' radio for music and more who would if offered a better product. Many depend on the old delivery system and, given the anti-competiveness of broadband providers and the high cost of wireless, many will for a long time. It's just that to the press, radio is old tech, and therefore over. And, crucially, this blaming of the customer is perfect cover for the rapaciousness and incompetence of the captains of the industry. Let me share a relevant story...
...It was already 50,000 watts hot on that September morning in 'Vegas, but coolness prevailed at the yearly Captains of Radio confab [NAB, or something like that]. Most were phat. And, if not happy, were keeping their misgivings to themselves. By eleven, at least one cigar chomper was already getting restless and starting to picture the leggy servers waiting for him at the Pharaoh Room pig roast. Almost there, sweaty palms. Just gotta live through the droning of the stat man. A wafer-thin bowtie wearing an Adams Apple approached the mic. He'd left his cool back home...
This was about 10 or more years ago, when Clear Channel had pretty much finished its feeding frenzy, but had yet to begin its decade of nausea. The speaker was, IIRC, the VP of Research for Sinclair Broadcasting, or one of the other large ownership chains, newly dwarfed by CC. Somebody to listen to, and with a serious message. The industry faced a risk, he told them, as consolidation and centralized programming eliminate an important source of information that music formats had lived by for years. Trends, tastes, styles are local and regional in their development, often arising where least expected. Who in New York anticipated Nashville, or Memphis, or Detroit, or Seattle, or Greensborough? Or any of that highly-profitable noise the kids dream up? By losing the intelligence developed by local radio, the industry will be blinded to the emergence of new talent and sounds, unable to exploit them. This can undermine the relevance of radio to a whole generation. Meanwhile, the medium could face serious challenge from new gadgets just as its audience steadily ages. This will hurt the performance not only of radio, but effect its traditional role in supporting the eco-system of the music business as a whole, concerts and recording.
Looking back on it, there couldn't have been a suit in the room who wasn't aware of the implication of CC's binge of leverage. Properties would be gutted, programming nationalized. They knew, because they had done it, setting this devolution in motion. But here was a monoculture like never before, with the power to ruin the whole game. Mr. Sliderule just told them of their end. Please, Clear Channel, gobble up one more. And let it be mine.
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 2:10 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Folk Music in America
My bet is, the cycle will come around and the airwaves will matter. Perhaps not for broadcasting
music, but the owners of the frequencies will get the last laugh.
What I can't understand is, given that we live in the age of streaming music, iPods, YouTube,
Pandora, etc -- who CARES what's on the FM dial???
-- Tom Fine