Thursday, October 17, 2013

Following up on the state of radio

WARNING:  ANOTHER ONE OF MY RANTS

A few months ago I wrote a post stating that terrestrial radio was heading towards its doom primarily due to all the commercials, lack of local programming, and ignoring the warning signs. New delivery systems – especially internet radio – will overtake the dinosaur AM & FM’s if they don't open their eyes. 

Several days after the article ran, Tim Conway Jr., the nighttime host on KFI Los Angeles devoted an entire half hour of his program to ripping me and the piece.  Yes, it was a very slow news day.  Tim is a good guy and I took no offense. I’ve been ripped on the air far worse.  But by defending the health of terrestrial radio he sounded like a company shill. KFI, in fact is a Clear Channel station.

I find it amusing that he had to interrupt his tirade for a six minute commercial break and he took no listener calls. (God forbid someone would agree with me.) I have offered to go on his show and debate the issue. You can guess his response to my invitation.

Now Ad Week Magazine has come out with the results of a survey that show internet radio is indeed on the rise. Here are the major findings:

• Internet radio is used by the majority of online Americans (53%). (And who isn’t online these days?)
• The total time spent with audio is clearly expanding as people are now enjoying more audio from more devices in more places.
• 83% of smartphone owners listen to some kind of Internet radio on their mobile devices. (And who doesn’t have a smartphone?)

Mark Cuban also said as much last Friday on SHARK TANK.

Clear Channel itself is trying to get a seat at the table with I Heart Radio. But they’re competing with Pandora, Spotify, Tune In, and now Apple has entered the fray with iTunes Radio. Additionally, you have thousands of great homegrown internet stations that feature any kind of music format you could imagine. Pat Boone singing heavy metal is available if you’re willing to search for it.

Satellite provider Sirius/XM is making a big play for subscribers to listen on the internet. They offer a version of customizing some music channels to your liking (clearly a response to the Pandora’s of the world).   At some point Sirius/XM may say, "What do we need these damn satellites for?" 

How will terrestrial radio react to this survey? They’ll ignore it. Say it’s irrelevant. Boast about all the revenue they’re making, although the money is mortgaging their future and coming from such sources as half hour informercials on colon cleanser. They’ll finagle numbers to show that audiences still listen primarily to terrestrial radio (ignoring the fact that those numbers are dwindling both in total number of listeners and time spent listening).

And Tim Conway Jr. will have another half hour topic.

Every year it’s getting easier and easier to access the internet on your car radio. You can already program stations on some and more vehicles will be equipped with that capability soon. Thanks to Bluetooth and auxiliary patches, you can plug any smartphone of tablet into your dashboard. Thousands and thousands of options are now at your fingertips that weren’t there years ago. And they take only a minute or so to set up.  Even I can do it.   Does terrestrial radio seriously believe people would rather hear 20 minutes of commercials an hour over no commercials and music they specifically have chosen? Let’s see their study that shows that. (They probably have one.)

Make no mistake -- I love terrestrial radio. I grew up on it. Some heritage stations are sacred to me. I’m not rooting for their demise. I just want them to get their head out of the sand and fix the problem. And the first step is recognizing that there is a problem. (Is there a Greedy Broadcasters Anonymous?)

Then fight back.  There are 50,000 whats you can do.   Charge more for each commercial then play fewer of them. Hire personalities. Be local. Provide the programming that Pandora can’t. And if you’re an AM station you might let listeners know where they can still get an AM radio. Why let a radio station that you’ve paid millions for be rendered less successful than one some kid has put up in his bedroom with a used laptop, a microphone, and a music program?

Radio wars used to be legendary in the '50s and '60s.  You know how to fight.  And you know how to win.   Put down that colon cleanser and pick up a sword!

69 comments:

Baylink said...

"Katrina."

Michael Rafferty said...

Right on, Ken! Terrestrial radio is blind to the fact it is the commercials as well as localism that separates them from internet radio. You can't run 3 six minute blocks of commercials an hour and expect to keep listeners. Terrestrial radio has been using the same commercial paradigm for over 40 years. They have tried to change their music formats ie. Jack Radio...but haven't changed they way they present the ad spots. You can't run TV style ads on radio anymore. More jock reads, shorter ad spots and hour sponsers is part of the answer.

Greg Ehrbar said...

Thanks to today's technology, I can hear my mother's voice speaking to me from my car radio. Only a few years ago, you would've thought my story was more fiction that it's fact.

She doesn't generally help me through everything I do but I'm so glad she's here.

After each uproarious chat with Mom, wacky predicaments ensue, filled with zany madcap hijinks for the whole family.

Who knew that the 21st century would offer not so much the promise of George Jetson but more the fate of Jerry Van Dyke?

Gary West said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hamid said...

Off topic but I just read the news that one of my favorite character actors, Ed Lauter, has passed away. Shitty news. He was such a great actor, especially in comedies.

This has been a terrible year for the loss of great acting talent - James Gandolfini, Dennis Farina, Eileen Brennan.

RIP

Gary West said...

Especially the talkers. Most are down.

KFI - which peaked at a 4.7 overall - is down to a 2.8. And, that includes Internet listening over iHeart. So, it's not an AM problem, it's a station/format problem.

And, those commercials. Most are awful and such a tune-out.

Steve Boyko said...

I used to listen to radio in the car all the time. In the past few years the ads have grown to the point where the morning shows in particular are just ads. Straight up ads, weather brought to you by X, traffic brought to you by Y, interviews with company shills... silence is better.

My car is 14 years old and only has a tape deck. I can't wait to get a new car so I can pair up my iPod and listen to my own music. Until then, the radio stays off.

Mike said...

There's also the draw of people like Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt, as regular news media remains hopelessly biased to the left.

J. Allison said...

@Steve Boyko, you can get a cassette adapter for your iPod/smartphone. See, for example, these: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=13981611

Wayne said...

Thanks for a great idea. Listen to what I want on iPhone and link to car sound system by Bluetooth. So I don't need to pay for satellite. Hooray!

Covarr said...

Oddly enough, Christian stations seem to be doing better than average. A local Christian station near me plays very little advertising, instead relying on donations to fund it (and it's working). They talk about things relevant to the reason people tuned in to begin with, as well as mention and sometimes sell tickets to Christian concerts throughout the region.

I suspect other niche stations will do a bit better also. It's the Top 40 pop stations that are at greatest risk. They're all trying to play the most popular music, rather than going for a more consistent audience.

Sheryl said...

Lucky for me my commute is only 30 to 45 mins and when more than half of that was spent listening to commercials I turned off the radio and began listing to audiobooks. It's a great way to catch up on your "reading".

Carl Tyler said...

I got Satellite radio so I could listen to music without Ads. I cancelled it when they added DJs. I can see what's playing on the device, I don't need a rambling idiot to tell me.

RareWaves said...

I grew up with terrestrial radio in sixties and early seventies, but gave up on it in the late seventies since at that time, I had a cassette walkman and many, many albums. I made my own mixtapes and still do (although now they are called playlists). It was the commercials and the repetition of songs that drove me away and I've never gone back.

One interesting note. Listening to WLS and WCFL in the sixties, I used to love the commercials when they were read, especially when the DJ goofed or improvised it and made it funny. I never tuned out those commercials.

McAlvie said...

I grew up with radio, too, Ken. Back then radio personalities were celebs. Everyone listened to radio. But back then there were more genres represented, as well. There are fewer nitche markets now. I never thought I'd see the day when the local c&w and classical music stations were the only dependable formats. Today, most stations change formats so frequently that people just give up even turning on the radio. And that's why internet stations become more popular all the time. Because we don't want someone else telling us what they think we should be listening to.

404 said...

It's the same problem the music industry went through years ago, and the book industry is going through now--the hardliners refuse to accept that the way they've always done it just doesn't work anymore. Those that will not adapt will die out. Once the sponsors take note and start advertising elsewhere, the radio stations will listen. By that time, though, it will be too late for some.

McAlvie said...

I grew up with radio, too, Ken. Back then radio personalities were celebs. Everyone listened to radio. But back then there were more genres represented, as well. There are fewer nitche markets now. I never thought I'd see the day when the local c&w and classical music stations were the only dependable formats. Today, most stations change formats so frequently that people just give up even turning on the radio. And that's why internet stations become more popular all the time. Because we don't want someone else telling us what they think we should be listening to.

McAlvie said...

Huh. sorry for the double comment. please feel free to delete one of them.

McAlvie said...

Steve Boyko - get yourself an FM transmitter and you can have the best of both worlds.

Kathy said...

I don't have a smartphone! But I don't listen to the radio, either.

Mike Barer said...

I think that KIRO-FM 97.3 in Seattle has stayed entertaining with it's talk format. It is not the 24 hours news giant that it was a few years back when it was on the AM, but it has a strong Morning drive host, a strong afternoon drive team, a great hip news feature reporter and CBS news on the hour.

Igor said...

And in another 25 years, cars will drive themselves and we'll be watching Netflix in our car as "we" drive to and fro.

In related news... While I've not taken the time to actually study it, it seems that 30 Rock in syndication uses more, shorter commercial breaks. And that works for me. I wonder if that would work on radio?

John said...

Radio is running into the same problem newspapers have for the past 15 years -- the larger the area or the bigger the interest is in a subject, the more multiple options there are for people to go to. The more localized your service is, the fewer places there are going to be competing to provide those same services.

Sirius/XM may not be local (Ironically, the most 'local' the service gets is with the rebroadcasts on XM of the selected Clear Channel FM stations from around the country), but that's offset by the lack of ads on the music stations they program themselves. You can live with the ads on the sports and talk channels because 90 percent of that is shared 'casts of over-the-air feeds, but if they were ever to go back to the original days of having ads on the music stations, their subscriptions would go into free-fall.

Mike Barer said...

I may add that one reason for me keen interest in local radio is my one hour morning and afternoon commute between Maple Valley, where I live, and Bellevue, where I work.

Rick Wiedmayer said...

I don't listen to radio anymore. I just put in th CD of the day and I'm happy. No more scanning to find a format that i want to listen to.

Rich Shealer said...

There is a Friday question at the end.

Last night Law & Order SVU threw a retirement party for John Munch. I thought it was pretty terrific good-bye to a fictional live-action character that at this point has been on more TV series than any other. I figure Superman or Batman may have been on more. 
They added some nice touches bringing back three characters from his first series Homicide Life on the Streets.

His first wife Gwen (Carol Kane) who was in both Homicide and SVU, his third wife Betty Lou (Ellen McElduff) and the only one with a speaking line Meldrick Lewis a fellow Homicide detective. David Brenner was introduced as his brother, but I don’t think he was ever seen before.

The roast had decent lines that seemed very true to the characters and believable.

The ending was touching as well as they showed a young Detective Munch looking through mug shots in the first episode of Homicide. When Capt Cragen called him Sergeant Munch it reminded me of his Homicide partner Bolander pushing Munch to do better police work by repeatedly calling him Detective Munch. I let out a bit of shout when they showed the mug shot clip.

I watched the credits and the cameos were listed as Party Guest rather than their characters.

My Friday questions are:
What kinds of copyright entanglements are there they would have not used the character names that were implied or was it because they weren’t named in the episode and it would be confusing?

How does the John Munch character move around so much? (X-Files, Arrested Development, Sesame Street) I assume it has to be licensed from the owners of the Homicide licensing.

Mike McCann said...

Traditional radio, especially today, does best when it provides something you can't get anywhere else -- such as sports/talk, or news/talk.

You or I could load 5000 songs into an iPod, but the "faux tavern" atmosphere of the best sports talk stations needs people and technology we can't duplicate at home,

Beau Weaver said...

With the occasional exception of some local NPR stations, I now listen only to streaming audio content. I have Bluetooth connections in all my vehicles. I use Stitcher, a lot. And Pandora's algorithm always pleases me when I am in a musical mood. Audio entertainment will live on, and will always be a part of my life. But just not through broadcast stations licensed by the FCC. And it did not have to go this way. They systematically ate the seed corn, and now all they have left is....husks.
Really sad. Radio was my first love....I hope the big consolidators can at least get something for the real estate....because the licenses are going to be worth almost nothing very soon. - Beau Weaver

Beau Weaver said...

With the occasional exception of some local NPR stations, I now listen only to streaming audio content. I have Bluetooth connections in all my vehicles. I use Stitcher, a lot. And Pandora's algorithm always pleases me when I am in a musical mood. Audio entertainment will live on, and will always be a part of my life. But just not through broadcast stations licensed by the FCC. And it did not have to go this way. They systematically ate the seed corn, and now all they have left is....husks.
Really sad. Radio was my first love....I hope the big consolidators can at least get something for the real estate....because the licenses are going to be worth almost nothing very soon. - Beau Weaver

Ted said...

Whenever I get into my car, I tune in 710 ESPN and slog through those 10 minute of commercials. Every so often in the middle of all that, I can hear the voice of a unique and funny broadcaster, Max Kellerman. When he goes, I'll go with him.

Anita Bonita said...

The problem is not that the Powers That Be have their heads in the sand; it's that they have them in the one location which forces them into the position of human round pretzel.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

- If an online :30 video ad plays before we see our content, and we get so aggravated that we click away, imagine how irritating 12 :30 audio ads (in a six minute stop set) are to the ever-dwindling radio audience?

Look Radio Industry: an "impression" is an impression, whether it takes :30 seconds or :05 seconds...so dump the :60's and :30's. Sell :05's only...

...and hire entertaining local personalities who focus on local people, news and events.

The alternative is the ossification of your trade. Change with the times, folks.

...that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Eric J said...

The same thing that killed terrestrial television will kill terrestrial radio--alternatives.

It isn't that tough to find an alternative to endless loud commercials and inane political "personalities".

Jeffrey Mark said...

I had a rental car the other week for a week and it had XM on it. Loved it. I could not take my ears away from the brilliant Little Steven's Underground Garage absolutely the best XM station playing great obscure British Invasion songs mixed with the latest "garage bands." Listening to Kid Leo was perfect - what a voice and personality. I've always heard about him from his Cleveland days but never got a chance to hear him live. Truly a master air personality and extremely knowledgeable about the music he plays. If you have XM you must - you must listen to Little Steven's Underground garage. Lots of mid-60s music from The Small Faces, The Move, The Creation and obscure Rolling Stones album cuts that never ever get played on terrestrial rock stations. Worth the price of subscription alone.

Jack said...

Satellite radio bores me for the same reason terrestrial radio bores me: there's almost no personality to most of the channels. I'm not into the obscure stuff, so when I listen to satellite, it's almost always to one of the mainstream channels -- and they sound just the same as your local Starkissmixqxyzbullfoxwolf 104 dot 3.

If they would hire some flame-throwin' rock jocks (I hear Beaver Cleaver is available) to do real shows AND play the hits, that would be worth listening to -- satellite or terrestrial.

gottacook said...

With regard to Ed Lauter: Through no fault of his own, I remember him best for one of his more dramatic moments in Magic (1978), likely the first thing I ever saw him in, shouting at Ann-Margret: "Did you fuck him!?" (referring to Anthony Hopkins' ventriloquist character).

It was David Steinberg (not David Brenner) who appeared as Munch's brother last night.

Terrestrial radio for me is NPR (and its local affiliate) plus the occasional news/weather station, and some classical (one of which programs a bit more adventurously than the other) and some noncommercial jazz. There is one remaining oldies station in the metro area, but its choices are 100% identifiable within 3 seconds, and they play the censored versions of such tracks as "Who Are You" that began to prevail during the last decade. Frankly, Great Big Radio is the ideal music station for me.

Beethoven Rock said...

@Greg E. love that last line!

Radio will soon join newspapers as a barely-protected species.

Why would advertisers pay more for radio spots when they can likely go to the internet and reach millions more folk for a lot less? Seems to be the only real option is listener-supported radio, which would likely kill the majority of stations. Exceptions: those with contracts for major league baseball, NFL, NBA, college sports.

As Ken pointed out, there are so many better alternatives to AM/FM radio now. I myself am retired, and send little time in the car, so I keep a rotation of 5 cd's in the car. I've spent 30 some years accumulating the discs so why not listen to them? There's 100s of them! And the sound is still top grade and beats the hell out of some talking head trying to sell me form-fitting anal plugs!

Mike said...

Radio is alive & well in the UK, courtesy of the BBC. No adverts/commercials, just the occasional trailer. Documentaries, plays (comedy/drama), as well as classical, jazz, indie, dance, pop, whatever your little heart's desire.
Funded through general taxation and a license fee paid by anyone unimaginative enough to own a television.
I believe it streams to America from here. If anyone's interested (and it works), I'd be happy to show them around.

mfearing said...

This is replay of what happened to newspapers. They raked in the easy money, their ad-rep guys had cushy business lunches and suddenly the business was gone. Newspapers couldn't be bothered to think about much less look at technology. As sad as the decline of newspapers is, it is a product of very bad business. And all those CEO's and Publishers were being paid big money to do what exactly? I guess maybe they weren't as smart as they thought.

Jeff said...

I rarely listen to any kind of radio because my musical tastes are rather eclectic and it's very rare when I find a station anywhere that plays what I enjoy. I listen to CDs

chuckcd said...

Well, by my handle you can tell I listen to cd's in the car and very rarely listen to radio.

I don't have internet or satellite radio in my car yet.

I am one of the rare people who does not have a smartphone.

roxy641 said...

Loved the radio blog Simon, but was here in the first place because of your sci-fi writing...

I am a DJ on a community radio station called Croydon Radio. We all choose our own music for our shows, I'm amazed that many DJ's/presenters don't, some of them don't even have to press any buttons. On our shows, we do everything ourself. From choosing the music, loading it onto the system and pressing the button that plays the song. We also control the mic, our guests mic, skype etc.

There are plenty of interesting radio shows out there, you just have to do a bit of searching.

Brian Drake said...

I'm a broadcaster in San Francisco, with the same company that owns KFI, and I concur with every word you say. The execs tell us we are still holding 100% of the radio audience, but what they don't realize--or won't admit--is that 100% of the actual 60% of people listening to terrestrial radio is a small audience which continues to shrink.

Stations continue their use of automation rather than live people; more and more stations have packaged programming customized to the market; radio is indeed dying, and it sucks. I look at the interns we have here now and they will have less job opportunities than I had when I started 20 years ago, just as I had less opportunity than somebody who had 20 years on me.

Chris D. said...

You are right about the ads, if I have to listen to Larry Miller and his accountant shill for S*it and
Sleep. I'm going to hurt someone. It's the last place I'd go to get a mattress! Conway has one of the best hours on AM with his "What did Jessie Jackson say" show. But he even had a half show on KABC with some mortgage broker ad/show?

Ed Dempsey said...

About the only thing I listen to on the radio here in Chicago is WBBM (News, weather and sports - no opinion). Mostly to catch up on the news, but more for traffic and weather.

On the rare occasion that I do listen to a music station its usually WLS. Yes, they have commercials, but it seems like the song blocks (classics the 70's and 80' s) feel like 15 to 20 minutes in length. If the commercial break is too long, I switch back to WBBM for a news and traffic update.

VP81955 said...

My big question: Will terrestrial radio survive until November 2020, which will be the centennial of KDKA in Pittsburgh? I'd like to think the answer should be yes, but Clear Channel et al will have to do plenty of persuading me that it will be worth it.

About the only radio I listen to these days is the BBC through our local NPR chain ("Radio IQ" for central and western Virginia), and broadcasts of Nationals baseball and Capitals hockey.

PeterM said...

Random Friday Question. I'm working my way through "Sons of Anarchy" on Amazon. Seeing one episode after another makes things stand out, and I noticed something strange in the opening credits. Some non-cast actors were labeled "Guest Star" and others were given the designation of "Special Guest Star." Is there really a difference between the two? If so, what are the differences?

Thanks!

estiv said...

I noticed the other day that of the six FM presets on my car radio, five are for non-profit stations. The sixth is for Bob FM, which is sometimes bearable. And I never listen to AM at all anymore. Considering what an important part of my life AM radio used to be, that makes me a little sad.

Paul Duca said...

I understand Tim Conway, Jr. flogs those short term payday loan services, that are run by Native Americans on their reservations. That means due to tribal land sovereignity, they are subject to fewer banking and finance regulations. These companies have been found to charge as much as 90% APR on their loans.

Anonymous said...

From BMR

For now, as is the case with Clear Channel stations, broadcasters will exploit the airwaves with endless commercials sold by positive spin to an Ad industry that thrives on that kind of ecosystem.

Sooner than later those bricks and mortar broadcasters will get a golden parachute when they sell their spectrum to those who deliver digital media to your car. What is now FM will be 1’s and 2’s of digital music and talk.

There is a method to their madness and those who hold the keys are keenly aware of what the future holds.

ODJennings said...

The classic radio you're talking about was a brilliant delivery system for for immediate and targeted advertising.

The local used car dealer could take a car in on trade at 10AM and the local DJ could be telling his listeners about the car by lunchtime.

Then came Wal-Mart, the big shopping mall on the edge of town, and all the national franchises, and radio lost its advertisers. Every empty storefront in every downtown in America is a memorial to the businesses that supported AM radio.

Local radio is like the Puff the Magic Dragon:

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys

Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.

One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more

And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.


Rich Shealer said...

@gottacook - David Steinberg - Doh!

LR said...

I have five music stations and NPR programmed as the preset stations on my car radio. When a commercial break hits I cycle through the music station until I find one that is actually playing music. After about a minute of flipping through commercials I give up and listen to NPR for the rest of my commute. I would switch back to the music stations when they are playing music again, but since NPR doesn't have commercials that are longer than about 20 seconds I never end up switching back.

jcd said...

The big radio companies have also acted like a major league baseball team that has ignored its farm system. Once upon a time, there were lots of jobs for jocks looking to learn the business and get their on-air chops down.

Those gigs now go to syndicated shows and guys who voice-track in 20 different markets.

Though I used to have a real love and passion for radio, I look forward to watching the demise and dismantling of Clear Channel et al because they have no one to blame but themselves.

Tony Collins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Collins said...

Ken, I've just started reading your blog, and it's fantastic. I'm one of the many people who love TV on several levels - understanding the writing, the directing, the acting, make it so much better. So, thanks for this, and for being so accessible.

I've got a Friday question - or rather, a "Friday request for a post".

In your post on THE BLACKLIST, lots of people have commented on poor writing, on assumptions that the characters have to be stupid for a plot to work.

I'm really interested as a viewer. I've sat there shouting at the TV "come ON all you had to do was insert a line about 'blah' and you wouldn't have had to do such stupid things and made your characters look like idiots!!!!".

My question is, do you all end up subject to groupthink at points, and don't realise what you're doing? Or do you all stay silent when you can see a terrible programme is being produced? Surely the actors read their plots and think "oh come ON"? Surely the director yells "cut" and thinks "how did this get written?" Surely the writers who are tasked with turning the story idea into a script say "no this is just silly!"

Or is the atmosphere so frenetic, the hours so long, everyone so tired, and no one wanting to stand up to a dictatorial showrunner, that you end up not realising that you're screwing the dog?

I'm really interested in the subject of "how good people end up making bad TV", and I'd love you to expand on it.

McAlvie said...

One cool thing is that so many real stations have options to stream live over the internet. So you can have the real radio experience, you just have to learn to tune out the weather and traffic reports.

Hmmmmm said...

The ads are annoying in blocks for sure, but for me the worst is the loss of local talent. the DC has been slowly shifting every local morning host out and bringing in the blando sydicated hosts. Borefest.
I have been exploring internet radio more and more.

Jeremy R said...

Saw this today, echoing some of your thoughts:

http://allthingsd.com/20131018/seismic-shifts-remake-the-radio-industry/

Doug McIntyre said...

Ken, The commercials are a big part of the problem-- younger viewers don't watch them on television, why would anybody think they'll tolerate 6-8 minutes breaks on the radio? But traditional radio has much deeper problems than its 85 year old revenue model.

The industry stopped developing new talent. It's as if Major League Baseball abolished farm teams. The Dodgers would still have Mike Marshall as their closer.

AM radio is stuck in 1988, the year Rush exploded on the scene.

And FM radio sounds like Madonna when she suddenly developed a British accent-- 8,000 NPR affiliates all trying to become an American BBC.

Then there are the redundant music formats slicing up a smaller and smaller pie in the age of the iPod, a digital device that works brilliantly in the car.

Television has chased at least 10 trends since the 1980s, sitcoms are dead, sitcoms are king, prime time soaps, video clip shows, reality TV etc.

Meanwhile radio is still spinning records or taking calls from white guys blabbing about how terrible everything is. "Let's go to the phones!"

News! Traffic! Weather! On the 2's,3's,4's or 5's! Everything is predictable and generic.

Nobody today would dare hire the great talents of the past. Bob & Ray, Jean Shepherd, Long John Nebel, etc, etc, would be podcasting with 6 devoted listeners.

And that's the problem with webcasting. With 16 million websites, how does anyone attract enough audience to make it a profession rather than a hobby?

Radio can recover but not by continuing to air the same tired reheated hash its been serving for the last 25 years.

VP81955 said...

Radio can recover but not by continuing to air the same tired reheated hash it's been serving for the last 25 years.

Just as "movies can recover, but not by feeding us repeated big-budget comic book blockbusters with the usual apocalyptic soundtracks and CGI explosions left and right." (Or scores of animated films where the family can take the kids on opening weekend, with some sort of fast food tie-in.) Alas, the difference is that movies make money (now largely a result of the international market), radio doesn't. You can't export local U.S. radio broadcasts to China.

Mike said...

Tony, regarding The Blacklist, this was one of Ken Levine's Friday Questions some time ago. I think his answer was yes, actors will point out plot holes. I asked it having in mind what I thought at the time was the series finale of Battlestar Galactica, where a Cylon is killing hostages until they hand over the Cylons she wants, but just earlier she had refused to identify these people when they asked her.

Doktor Frank Doe said...

There's no more Radio Competition, there's now the Corporately controlled content that is echoed between all three radio competitors. Terrestrial Radio is now nothing but Advertising being shoved down our throats and I don't even bother with it anymore. Pandora for me, it's incredible the number of brain cells I'm re-growing. Network TV is the same bullshit, I'm off of that too. Anything I DO watch is TIVO'd, the rest is netflicks HULU, Amazon, or Apple. I LOVE to pay for content that is void of all that shit!

gleapman said...

Our local NPR station (KCFR in Denver) is going down the same rat hole as commercial stations piling ads on top of ads. During Morning Edition they have six or seven breaks an hour and most of them have two - four ads. These are no longer underwriter announcements; they are ads. They even charge other non-profits to promote their events. So much for operating as a public service. And the 30 seconds of an underwriter telling us how much people love their "wonderful widget-selling" business because they underwrite, under the guise of telling other potential underwriters how it helps their marketing to underwrite...that's an ad. And, yes, 15 seconds of telling me how to donate my car to the station or include the station in my will is an ad...and annoying...when it happens several times a day as part of your ad breaks for all your other sponsors. I find myself tuning away from NPR as often as I do the local sports talk station to avoid ads. I listen to other, truly non-commercial NPR stations online (i.e. stations that aren't bombarding listeners with ads). I'd gladly trade less service from the NPR station for fewer ads.

Storm said...

I began to give up on terrestrial radio when they stopped taking requests, especially if said request wasn't on their Short List of Songs To Play To Death. I gave up on radio for good the day that Doctor Demento decided he'd had enough of it himself; the Good Doctor has never done me wrong.

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Jeffrey Leonard said...

Once again, Ken, you are the voice of reason. The sad part is that you will ALWAYS get a negative reaction from those who are still on the radio or in the business (i.e. they want to keep their jobs). Fighting with the SCBA is wasting your time. They will have their charts and focus group mumbo jumbo from every nook and cranny. You know and I know, it's all bullshit. But, once again, since they want to keep their jobs, they will fight you. Just know, you are correct. Don't waste your time with a debate. You have already won. JL

Anonymous said...

I got satellite radio a couple of years ago when I rented a car. There was so much good programming on it, lots of music channels without commercials, along with great proprietary sports channels like all the NFL games, NBA, etc and other talk channels, that I became a subscriber. I still love it and listen to all the great quality variety. Listening to a lot of channels on the internet is like watching channels 200-921 on my cable TV channel. There's no "there" there. The quality sucks.

Breadbaker said...

I also just had a rental car with Sirius. The NFL channel, which is basically a radio version of the Red Zone Channel on TV, was awesome. During the baseball playoffs you could hear the local broadcasts or the national broadcasts. And the Grateful Dead Channel, which includes both studio and live tapes (and the Dead has literally years worth of the latter), was a total pleasure.

Unlike Mike Barer, I don't have a car commute I take the bus into downtown Seattle and read a book. Yes, an actual book.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has teenagers at home, I have become accustom to listening to Pandora vevo rhapsody and u tube for music on my phone (yes pulgged into aux jack in car) or computer or TV via roku. Most teens don't can't even name more than one or two lock FM stations and plug in phone as soon as first commercial comes on. We don't have a radio in the house that isn't in a dark corner covered in dust. Even clock radios are gone replaced by alarms on phones. My teens read there news and politics online. They ar not even sure ehat AM setting on car radio is. Only know how to switch it back to aux. So this is the way the millennium generation lives. It is the future. Radio will eventually consolidate to 3 or 4 stations in each market. The rest will die. That is what I see in 10 years.