Episode Information

The Future of Radio: Dead Air?
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
Aired:
12/31/2008
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What is the future of radio?

 

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Alec Foege, author of Right of the Dial: Photo By Chion WolfAlec Foege, author of Right of the Dial: Photo By Chion WolfIt's been a long time since commercial radio was a haven of cutting edge rock; diverse opinion and local service, and many blame one company.

Clear Channel is the company that nearly ate commercial radio owning more than 1200 stations at it's peak but also major concert venues, TV stations andbillboards. It was hard to escape the reach of this massive media empire.

The big impact? More radio stations that sound the same, playing the same old formats, and the same tired songs. With DJs who sound the same in Iowa, California and Connecticut.

But what led radio down this path? And now that Clear Channel's grip has loosened, will commercial radio ever return?

Today, where we live, we'll talk with the author of a new book chronicling Clear Channel's rise and fall, and a long-time radio columnist, who's given up on the medium that he loves.

And, we'd like you to join the conversation. When you're not listening to Where We Live, do you listen to the radio? What do you listen for? what would you like your radio to sound like?

You can see pictures of Where We Live studio guests at WNPR's Flickr site.

Join the conversation! Add your suggestions, questions and comments below!

*Today's program originally aired on 7/29/2008.


 
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Network vs. local radio

Before deregulation of the radio industry, stations had to conduct a survey of local community needs every 2 years. I asked a station manager if there was any consistent result from that survey. He said, "Loneliness" was the most common issue. I replied, “My God, I’ve always thought the role of the disc jockey as a surrogate companion was completely overlooked by programmers hell bent on ‘more music, less talk’ formats.” I do think if local radio is to prevent itself from becoming irrelevant it has to focus on its most potent benefit: being local. When I get up in the morning I want to know what’s going on in my town and learn about things that have a direct impact on me.

I have no problem with voice tracking if it’s used correctly, local talent (who may actually have another career because you can’t make any money in local radio) comes in for a few hours to pre-record his tracks and interviews then the computer assembles the show, saving him the time of sitting there while hours of music and commercials play. This allows the talent to spend more time on content and permits the pre-recording of interesting guests. Then you only need a live newscaster to give the truly up-to-the-minute content.

I have no problem with national (network) broadcasts if they’re of high quality. What’s high quality? Well, in the Golden Age of Radio, the typical weekly comedy had a half dozen writers and top talent that spent 40 hours preparing for a 28 minute broadcast. Those old Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, Bing Crosby Shows are still superior to anything on modern radio. Prairie Home Companion is the closest modern equivalent. A dull talk show like Rush Limbaugh could be re-created in any market, with far more profit to the local station.

In the end, “broadcasting” is going to be a fairly meaningless term as audio content users will more likely subscribe to RSS feeds of podcast content directly from content creators like Premier Radio Networks, Westwood One and thousands of smaller vendors.

In NY State in the early

In NY State in the early 1980s, WLIR (a local Long Island station) was a fantastic commercial radio station that had the newest of the new songs--where are the stations like that now?? Why can't an alternative station make enough money to give us the new music?

Those stations are on the internet

The stations like WLIR are on the interent-- There is plenty of cutting edge music to be found... also hard to find formats like opera, celtic and kids radio.

The future of radio IS the internet.