Take a ride with me as I examine the business of Radio!
At what cost? An examination of radio in the new century
Radio has been weakened over the years through problems in utilizing technology. Technology has created more choices in a market from radio to TV to cable to Satellite. It doesn’t matter that we may be doing a great job or a poor job when you have 30 stations in a market in which 3 or 4 of them are concentrating on the hot format of the time. Radio was so wonderful in the 60’s and 70’s cause we utilized the “Theatre of the Mind” and the stations were local and in the community. Technology has given us the ability to move the major market voices to the smaller market.
But at what cost? How many stations are doing multi market contesting where the odds of winning a lottery ticket are better than winning the contest? How many stations have only two people working cause everything else is voice tracked with one of the jobs being a night guard and the other the person who programs the computer? There is no time to do local promotional remotes or “Coffee Stops” during the morning show cause you don’t have the strength to put in another eighteen-hour day.
How has radio utilized technology better? We’ve gone from pulling the next record in the rack and rotating it to the back when we are finished to specialized computer systems that can tell us every opportunity that we have played a song on the radio.
How can we look toward the future? Is satellite radio the solution? Possibly as a jukebox but the strengths of radio is the immediacy, the localness of a story and of a community.
Where has the FCC gone? It used to be a regulatory commission here to regulate and encourage radio. It is now turned into an auction house of the spectrum looking to make as much money as possible? What happened to “service in the interest of the community?” At what cost does it become the eventual downfall of radio. How many of the local “Voices” will be silenced by major market simulcasting?
And where does the future of radio come from? Jobs are scarce and seekers are plentiful. What used to be the local station weekend overnight where job seekers paid dues has now turned to the domain of those ones and zeros of a computer. The local has gone out of radio. Where Have All The Cowboys Gone? By Paula Cole remembers the old west. The updated song should be where has all my friends on the radio gone?
What sign of the apocalypse is it now when you have owners coming into markets and not looking about how my new acquisition is serving the community but looking on how can I fire enough people to start making enough money to cover costs to make stockholders happy. There will be a time when revenues will be down and the stockholders will be bailing out and the only solution is to SELL. We’ll all be waiting for this happens cause when radio goes back to its roots that are when radio will win and communities will win big. Radio must be LIVE, LOCAL, and LATEBREAKING! The stations that win this battle will win the war.
But at what cost will this battle be fought?