RIP The Nightbird. I used to love her show when I could make myself stay awake long enough to hear
it. A few times, I caught the tail end of it as I crept in after a long night out.
She used to play "The War of the Worlds" OTR broadcast every Halloween she was on the air.
For a few years that happened to be my formative years, WNEW-FM was the ultimate FM rock station. I
got turned on to a lot of music I still like today. The only thing that's come close in the current
age is, surprisingly, Pandora. I "trained" it relentlessly to "understand" my tastes when I first
installed it and now it regularly comes up with interesting soul, funk and jazz tunes that are
unknown or little-known to me, particularly stuff of recent vintage.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ward Duffield" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, July 03, 2013 8:11 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Folk Music in America
> Well, Thank God I could fall asleep to Alison Steele, the Nightbird on WNEW-FM!!
> Ward NY
>> 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
>> -- 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
>>> 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