Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The State Of Radio

Clear Channel will be laying off up to 1000 people, mostly in programming in mid and small size markets according to an article in Paid Content. Wikipedia state that Clear Channel owns 900 radio stations and is the largest radio station group owner. Not much talk is directed at the state of radio for the down slide in sales in the music business. The consolidation and control of radio to a handful of companies has had a monumental effect on how people hear music. I don't know anyone who listens to terrestrial radio now. Radio used to be a personal and local comfort. Stations are now programmed by one body of people, rather than each station taking into account their audience. The Jack stations sounded like an iPod on shuffle mode. Songs are not back announced so you have no idea what you just listened to. Major labels should have been protesting that years ago. You can't buy a record if you don't know the artist or what the title of the song is. The listener doesn't get insight on the recording, who may have played on it or when the artist will be in town. All of that came from a knowledgeable, passionate radio station staff. That all used to be part of the listening experience. Public radio still serves people this way (think WFUV, KEXP).

It was reported over a week ago that online radio listeners have increased to 42 million from 33 million in 2008. More on an article in Billboard. In most cases the stations that are truly online stations and not streaming from an existing terrestrial station are programmed by DJs in their home and sent from their laptop. It may not be a local thing, but it's a much more personal thing. The playlists are usually posted live; therefore, you never have to guess at who you're hearing. I remember putting my transistor radio, tuned to WABC, under my pillow at night. There was nothing more reassuring than that. The image of a child falling asleep with her laptop at her head, is probably not that different a scenario.

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