Well, Thank God I could fall asleep to Alison Steele, the Nightbird on
> Hi Carl,
> It's OK to raise fists and bay at the moon, but that won't change the
> moon. Antitrust laws have been gutted since the 90s, so
> megaglomeration of ... everything is inevitable.
> As far as the FM broadcasting industry, I think you're looking back
> fondly with very rosy glasses. The FM band is NOT a reliable
> "security" asset due to limited range and sometimes fussy transmitting
> and receiving gear. It never was some haven of profitability, in fact
> there was a very short window in time where a few album-oriented rock
> stations and, even more so, a few formula-automated easy listening
> stations were mega cash machines. So of course the first- and
> second-generation owners were all too happy to sell to CC and
> Evergreen and others. The FCC had no business allowing ANY owner to
> have multiple frequencies in any market, but as I said there was a
> change in antitrust laws following the end of the Cold War ("Global
> Marketplace" and all, ya know). CC and its like got theirs anyway
> because it turns out that if you put 5 copies of the same lame formula
> in a marketplace, none of them get listened to. I've noticed that an
> FM frequency has become so value-less for music broadcasting that
> religious talk-radio and even poltical talk-radio have started to pop
> up on the FM dial all over the place. Sports radio moved over there
> several years ago.
> As far as "culturally relevant" (as decided by whom???) radio, the FM
> band was sabotaged by tax-subsidized NPR. What commercial station
> wants to try and fight that? So in many markets, the "higher brow
> taste" model was completely surrendered to the NPR empire. In my
> opinion, they do a mostly middling job, although the technical quality
> evolved from amateurish in the early days to superb in many cases
> today. As far as content, by being obsessed with political
> correctness, "inclusiveness" of every oddball "viewpoint" and trying
> to do anything they can think of "not of the masses," they alienate
> large swaths of the market (and one day will pay in the loss of their
> tax subsidy). I say this even though I listen to NPR far more than any
> other radio content, it is nearly 100% of my over-air listening
> because everything else is so terrible. I also note that NPR worked
> very hard to kill low-power Community FM, which would have been a
> blessing of true democratic (SMALL d) variety everywhere it flourished
> (Community FM was one of the few good ideas to come out of the FCC in
> the past few decades, and it was killed by massive pressure from the
> CC's of the world joined by NPR biting the hand that feeds it).
> FM radio was already heading down the tubes when I was in high school
> in the early 80s. I was complaining about the lack of variety among
> the several differently-owned rock stations I could easily pick up in
> the NYC suburbs. One of my friends joined in the lament and said, "hey
> man, the best radio station on the planet is your turntable." He was
> so right! I'm very glad I always invested in records, CDs and tape
> recorders rather than tuners.
> An interesting discussion is, should radio have been left alone much
> more so from the get-go, with the FCC in place only to monitor
> modulation levels and frequency (technical stuff). The only caveat I
> would have put in place from Day 1 would be -- only one frequency per
> market per owner, and strictly enforced that every step of the way.
> From there, let public taste and market economics decide what's
> popular, what formats work and what's profitable. Stay out of the way
> and let the folks run their own entertainment tastes. Under my system,
> you're potentially giving Joe Blow who bought a frequency cheap after
> WWII the same chance to be "Must Hear Radio" as NBC or CBS networks,
> as long as Joe Blow knew his market and could deliver something the
> big boys weren't.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Carl Pultz" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 10:23 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Folk Music in America
>> 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.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> 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