Radio’s Wounded Business Model

Listen to music on the radio much lately?

If you answered “no,” you’re in good company. Americans are listening to broadcasts — especially of music — much less frequently then they used to.

And with good reason, too: Stations which were once a way to discover new music have become bland sources of uniform playlists. At present, the heavy emphasis (or over-emphasis) is on hip hop; This comes after a long dalliance with insipid boy bands. Listeners left in droves.

So it was with no small amount of amusement that we heard yesterday that radio giant Clear Channel (CCU) was announcing they were cutting back the amount of ad time they would sell on the radio each hour, to a mere 15 minutes per hour, starting January 1, 2005.

The “spin” was that the largest radio player in the U.S. Would be able to use this “enforced scarcity” to raise the value of each spot.

The reality was — ahem — somewhat different.

Madness to the Method Man: Lost in this charming PR hype was a simple fact — Clear Channel’s fastest growth is behind it. When they were early in the process of consolidating and homogenizing U.S. radio, they a huge growth curve ahead of them. At an earlier point in their growth cycle, Clear Channel was able to wring out massive cost savings as they consolidated their network. That phase is now over.

This efficiency, cost cutting, and uniformity came at a cost: Clear Channel wracked up big margins with their streamlined McMusic programming, but they ended up driving away listeners, also.

Consider the state of radio before Clear Channel was given the greenlight by Congress to consolidate: There were many hundreds of local radio stations — which required 100’s of station managers, 100’s of musical programmers, and many 100’s of DJs. Across the U.S., you could hear music with a more local flavor. In cities, as you scrolled across the radio dial, you could hear a broad variety of songs, bands and musical genres. Even the same radio format — classic rock, alternative, pop, etc. — there were diverse playlists within each genre.

It may not have been “personalized” just for you, but the diversity of musical sources meant that there was likely something on the dial you wanted to listen to. No matter how obscure your musical tastes were, odds favored that there was at least one station worthy of being put into your car radio’s presets.

Clear Channel replaced most of this unique programming with a handful of their own “talent.” Depending upon the format the mega-station decided upon, they could simply plug in an existing show from their roster.

Local music sources were local no more.

Radio Radio

Source: WSJ

While this approach made them more efficient short term, it also fundamentally changed the relationship between listeners and their radio. These far away programmers — and their greatly reduced playlists — ultimately equaled less fans.

Clearchannel didn’t only hurt radio — they drew first blood from the recording industry also. Music fans only buy what they hear; Less music on the radio meant decreasing purchases of CDs. I’m convinced that the ever shrinking national radio playlist caused by radio consolidation is one of the key factors in the declining CD sales nationwide.

Filling the void: The market abhors a vaccuum, and in my opinion, a combination of 4 alternatives stepped into the void created by lack of Radio diversity:

1) Internet;
2) Satellite Radio;
3) iPods;
4) P2P

I personally listen via internet to Bob Harris on BBC 6 at home all the time. His show is the sort of animal I used to hear on NY radio 20 years ago. And I don’t mean oldies or classic rock — I mean a new interesting mix of new music (Supergrass, Hoobestank, Stewboss, Maroon 5, Jet). That option simply doesn’t exist for me on local radio anymore. The closest I can come is WFUV (90.7), Fordham University’s campus station.

Satellite Radio — and to a smaller degree, digital music from Satellite Dishes at home — offer consumers a broad variety of musical genres for personalized consumption. (I get a channel of all Hawaiian music in my Dish at home; All Hawaiian music, for crying out loud!). I haven’t looked into satellite radio for myself — yet — but I am considering it for our next car.

iPods are a different animal entirely. Podders put 1,000 or more of their favorite CDs on their iPod, set it to shuffle play, and enjoy. Its as if a radio station knows their exact taste, and randomly plays all of their favorite songs. I jack in my iPod in the car — or pop a mixed CD I burned — and thats my radio substitute.

If we are becoming, as Newsweek declared in an article this week, an iPod Nation, will anyone ever listen to the radio again?

Well, maybe. I used to listen to the radio to find new music. But Radio has abdicated that role; Introducing listeners to new bands, songs and albums has long since been abandoned by the medium. It was considered too risky to possibly send a listener down the dial. Instead, listeners were sent away fom radio wholesale.

And that place has been the P2P networks.

P2P is the new radio: Not only can you find a wealth of tunes on any of the P2P networks, you can see how popular or well liked any particular song is: Check out a given artist — lately, I’ve been listening to Jamie Cullen’s cover of Radiohead’s High and Dry — and you can get a sense of their perceived musical popularity by how many copies of any given song on MP3 is.

Check out a few songs, like ’em, order the CD. Hey, wait a minute, wasn’t that what we used to do with broadcast radio back in the old days?

That process used to be the exclusive purview of radio. MTV took some of it away for a brief while, before becoming a fullt ime reality TV format.

Now, thats the domain of P2P.

The great irony of this is that the ever shrinking playlists are what first impacted music sales — consumers don’t buy music that they have never heard or heard of. Now that the Clear Channels of the world have mortally wounded that industry, their methods have finally come home to roost against themself.

The long slow decline of broadcast radio — at least in terms of music — has now entered its final, terminal phase. The old boy may hang on for many years before finally succumbing, but alas, it is inevitable.

Broadcast music on the Radio is dying. Its only a matter of time before Radio — as we know it — will be dead.

UPDATE July 22, 2004, 1:19 pm
After getting deluged in traffic from Altercation, I popped on the television last night for some non-TiVo surfing (not my usual viewing habit). Imagine my surprise to see that Dish Networks has decided to throw 100 channels of Sirius Satellite Radio on my system.

A Radio Giant Moves to Limit Commercials
By Nat Ives
NY Times, July 19, 2004

Clear Channel Scales Back Ad Time
SPIN: Radio Industry Leader Aims to Raise Spots’ Value; Others Could Follow Suit
By Sarah Mcbride
Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2004; Page B4,,SB109018737288866819,00.html

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  1. Chris commented on Jul 21

    Barry, great post.

    But before you pound the nails into radio’s coffin, consider this: while commericial radio’s listenership is declining, public radio’s listenership has been growing.

    And a few bold commericial radio stations are trying to emulate public radio.

    Check out this NPR clip:

    Neo-Radio Succeeds by Cutting the Noise

    On a personal note, i listen to my radio, pretty much all day. Mainly to the college radio station out of Olympia, WA. But there are many programs on the Seatle public radio station i like to listen as well.

    If i had a highspeed connection, instead of a modem, i would be listening to KCRW, which is the best radio station in America. Well, it is for me, at least. :-)

    BTW: Kudos to Rick Sherlund on MSFT’s dividend. And when you blow a call, consider being more like Kudlow, and pretend you never made the call in the first place. :-)

  2. Dan commented on Jul 21

    Hey Barry, the same is happening in the UK too. The ever shrinking playlist and the ever increasing advert air time is causing less and less people to listen to the mainstream stations. Even the once trend setting Radio 1 is losing listeners.
    The best stations I have found are On Campus University stations. The best student station I have ever listen too is 95b FM – Auckland university

    If you can get over the accents then this station offers the best selection of worldwide music I have come across. It has a great Jazz show too.
    Check it out.

  3. jim commented on Jul 21

    I agree with your comments concerning commercial radio. Bland sameness. I myself stopped listening a couple years ago. I have found an excellent station that plays a truely diverse playlist. Of course, it’s member supported (non-commercial). Its WXPN out of the University of Pennsylvania ( They stream out of their website and I listen in work all day. Check it out.

  4. Quiddity commented on Jul 21

    In Los Angeles, besides two classic rock stations and one other rock station (KROQ), we have the following Clear Channel staions for music:


    KBIG (104.3FM) – light adult / disco-ish
    KHHT “Hot 92.3” (92.3FM) – “urban contemporary”
    KIIS (102.7FM) – top 40. Lots of Britney Spears
    KOST (103.5FM) – lighter adult (soft rock)
    KYSR “Star” (98.7FM) – female-oriented (?) rock
    “Indie” (103.1FM) – now a bizarre mix

    And they own these as well:


    KFI (640AM) – conservative talk (Limbaugh)
    KLAC (570AM) – 50’s and 60’s standards
    XTRA Sports 690/(KXTA)1150 – sports

    It’s a disaster.

  5. Ken Houghton commented on Jul 21

    Spot on, but I think you mean Bob Harris, not Mark Harris, on BBC6. At least, the website has the former name, not the latter.

    Possible counterpoint: I cannot listen to BBC6 through the computer at my office; blocked. While the radios nearby still–often unfortunately–work.

    The business model that doesn’t work isn’t specific to radio; it’s commercials that are the problem. More data, more targeting, better metrics–less willingness to pay for adverts.

    [BR: Ooops! Freudian slip there — it is Bob Harris. I listen to both of his shows — Saturday on BBC 2 and Sunday on BBC 6]

  6. Jeff commented on Jul 21


    Part of Clear Channel’s gamble on fewer commercials may be in response to a couple of largish independent commercial stations in Denver and San Diego slotting less than 10 minutes per hour for advertising. Both stations saw their Arbitron ratings double after making the switch. Because of this, there is now greater competition for the time available to advertisers.

  7. cc commented on Jul 21

    Quiddity said it all about what Clear Channel has done to Los Angeles radio. The second biggest media market in the country is radio hell.

  8. Duffy commented on Jul 21

    Right idea, wrong target. Impress the world with your knowledge on where to find BBC 6, but don’t think youre saying anything new in declaring radio near death. iPods, P2P, streaming audio….all very real and viable alternatives to commercial radio. But then again, so were 8-tracks. And cassettes. And the 6 disc CD changer has been around since the late 80s. While you may not appreaciate the Wal-Mart-ized playlist of corporate radio in 2004, I’m gonna take a guess you probably weren’t the one who really dug the song titles offered in 1982 by the wife of the local used car king who bought a radio station for a tax write off.

    That said, yeah…consolidation sucks. Local news resources have dried up, small business is squeezed out of advertising by savvy ad agencies….and we’re all less safe because a computer now does the job of that young serial killer wannabe who used to be distracted by the joy of playing Rob Zombie CDs in a little room all night, and getting paid for it.

    Still, there’s hope….maybe by easing up on the stifling amount of radio clutter and white noise, Clear Channel is insulating itself for the day when it’s favorite hick Texan isn’t King any more, and those in Washington pay a little less attention to fining potty mouths ….and a bit more to who actually owns the airwaves.

  9. Ken J commented on Jul 21

    My radio savior has been the BBC via the Internet: folk shows on BBC Radio Scotland, classical and world music on BBC Radio 3, and when I need a rock fix, BBC Radio 6. I “tape” the shows to minidisc and play ’em in the car. I play the night-time shows while I drift off to sleep. I know the BBC is a giant organization, but its programmers have a charge to “inform, educate and entertain” and for my admittedly-small-market tastes they do a damn fine job of it. I’ve been listening to the Beeb obsessively for two years, and this has been the greatest radio period of my life.

    The bottom line is little of my $100-$200/month in CD buys goes to local retailers any more. 80% or my of my CD buying decisions are now shaped by BBC airplay, and an awful lot of the cash goes to UK Internet sellers, or USA import CD specialists. I’ve ceased to be a part of the USA music market.

  10. Elaine commented on Jul 21

    Here in Lincoln, NE, we have one of the finest listener supported stations in the US.

    It is KZUM 89.3 FM. It has all volunteer d-jays and they play it all. I listen to it, and we also have Direct Satellite so listen to the music channels at home.

    I try to never listen to the Clear Channel stations, as I loathe them. Clear Channel needs to go down in FLAMES!!!!!

  11. Douglas McKinney commented on Jul 21

    Back when I lived in Columbus, Ohio–we’d flip to the classical station because we were certain we would never hear the same song twice. This is coming from a gerenation that loved Nirvana, Radio Head, Sublime, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Public Enemy, NWA, Nine Inch Nails, Beck, Bad Religion, NOFX, Operation IVY, [anything subpop], [anything you could skate or BMX to], etc.

    It was a shock to me moving to Columbus, Ohio to discover they didn’t have diversity on the radio. They mainly had “top 40 stations”, as we called them, and plenty of honky-tonk country. I grew up in the burbs of Chicago, during a time when “alternative” was a barely a cliché. Fortunately, there was one commercial, alternative station, Q101; (I hear they play Brittany Spears nowadays). If you were bored with the latest play-list on Q101—they were notorious then for not playing a top ten song within 6 hours of each other–, you flipped over to 94.7 for some classic rock. They were known for not playing the same song in one day; they changed format to be an 80’s station–I was in Ohio when that happened. Anyway, Sunday mornings were awesome because there was Breakfast with the Beatles for FOUR HOURS, hearing a lot of rarities and some classic tunes from time to time. There was also the Dead Hour–this was especially popular among the youth. They’d huddle around their stereos, timing their tape cassette deck to catch some rare shows–This was before sites like made Dead shows accessible for download; trading tapes was we/they had. But in Ohio, they weren’t as blessed.

    Again, as many commentators have stated, they listen to college radio stations, usually run by young, musical elitists, more to the liking of Jack Black’s character in “High Fidelity”. Sometimes it’s great. Most of the time it obscure stuff that is only played because the DJ’s are too snobbish to play the songs that are catchy. I have no qualms with University Stations because they are the last to influence a generation of “media sheep”.

    Now, that I’ve returned to the Chicago area, I only listen to talk radio-conservative, of course, because Air America didn’t last more than a month. Not to mention the station they were on had low wattage—You couldn’t hear them in the suburbs, unless you wrapped foil around your antennae—Nonetheless, I don’t listen to the radio for music anymore. I count on P2P and word of mouth.

  12. Jim commented on Jul 21

    Good post, but it’s not just radio consolidation causing decreased CD sales. Have you checked out MTV, MTV2, or VH1 in the last few years. They never play music videos. They created MTV2 to show videos, but now pretty much all they ever do is show the same stupid shows over and over again.

    You’re right about consumers not purchasing music they haven’t heard, but coming from some very rural parts of America I can say that radio was never (except for a breif time when I was in Champaign, Illinois) a big source of new music for me. Shows like 120 Minutes on MTV were. Today, even in the programming slots where the music channels play underground music its very bland and not that different from the stuff played in the few other time slots where they play videos. The programming on the music channels has become increasingly homogenized and repetitive just like what you describe on ClearChannel radio.

    For me, this has forced me to iTunes (no iPod yet), internet, and satellite radio. I’m happy with them, so I won’t be going back to broadcast radio (for music anyway). For many people this probably just drives them away from music all together.

    I’d be very interested in seeing a analysis comparing of the CD sales to the size of radio and video channel playlists. I bet you’re basically right and these have a bigger effect than P2P networks in killing CD sales.



  13. ken laymance commented on Jul 21

    It’s amazing to me that an industry can so ignore the desires of it’s customers for so long and still hang on as long as music radio has, primarily FM. With music taken out of the hands of Musicians and entrusted to Corporate Music “Proffesionals” to create “Product” propaganda through band “imaging” and “creation” it is no wonder that listeners have left in droves. Raido is not for them, but for advertisers and producers of soft drinks. There is certainly some great music in the world today, some new talent that is truly outstanding. But you will never hear it on the radio. What a shame for what was once a great industry.

    Ken Laymance
    DJ Kenny Mac
    Rock Planet Radio

  14. Dan commented on Jul 22

    Don’t forget that corporations that rule the music industry are consolidating as well. With the Sony and BMG merger, two companies will control 50% of all music produced and sold. So not only are we getting lesser selection on the radio end but far less selection on the music industry end as well.

    These corporations look at the same bottom line and feel its too risky to sign a group that doesn’t sound like an existing group. The music industry is feeding us the same generic music over and over again and if you are to succeed today, you need to copy the genre and not do anything out of the ordinary.

    Remember back in the early 80s when the recording industry decided that generic music was all the US could hear. We got generic stale bands long past their prime like Journey and Styx. Then came MTV who decided to concentrate on the new genres of music coming out of England and Europe. It forced the US music industry to change… albeit reluctantly.

    Today, MTV has become just another puppet of the music industry and we’re in the same situation we were in back in 1982. But will the Internet, P2P, iTunes, etc force the music industry to become more flexible like 20 years ago or will they fight it. I suspect the current group will fight it and prevent innovations and new sounds from reaching the airwaves and the music store shelves here in the US.

    So sad!!

  15. Richard Soderberg commented on Jul 22

    The latest version of Acquisition X, a peer-to-peer application for OS X, has a feature which you might appreciate: “What’s New”, that shows you what has been recently published on the peer-to-peer network.

  16. Ken J. commented on Jul 22

    Re: Ken Laymance’s comment: “It’s amazing to me that an industry can so ignore the desires of its customers…”

    Remember, in commercial radio, you are not the customer. You are the product being sold.

    Another rant point: Over-the-airwaves Radio is not a free market. Free markets require relatively easy entry to new producers. Entering the radio business, on the other hand, requires a very expensive, very rare government license.

    (Which leads to another rant point: Is the market a tool, or is the market a god? I better get back to work…)

  17. Daniele commented on Jul 22

    I am so sick and tired of radio,they do not play what we want to hear.I request a song they say we’ll see what we can do and never play it.Why listen ? I just listen to my cds..thanks for the article !

  18. terry commented on Jul 22

    I hear you Daniele. I quit listening to radio as well. They never played my requests either. They have their very limited play list and that is all they play. Requesting is useless. They don’t care about what I want to hear so they lost me as a listener. I just go out and buy the cd of the artists I want to hear and put it in my cd player. I bet it really confusses radio when certain artists who they won’t play, sells more cd’s than some of the ones that they do.

  19. Judy E commented on Jul 22

    I am a child of the great sixties. That was when you could call a radio station and request a song and it would be played within the next 15 minutes! Now if you request a song, good luck on even getting it played. Ask the dj if it is on their *list*. If it isn’t, they will say the pd has to ok everything. Good luck on him having the same taste as you, or if the record company has *promoted* $$$$ the song enough for it to be on their *list*. I have a checkbook, credit card, and I buy cds and play what I want to listen to. I go to concerts for the really special artists I love. Don’t have to listen to artists I don’t care for, commercial radio, talk radio or any radio. Gives me one less headache!

  20. Tommy commented on Jul 22

    Radio has been dead for awhile, rarely breaking any underground bands to the big time. The corporate monopoly that owns radio could give a rat’s ass about musical creativity or diversity and is only concerned with shareholders’ earnings. Like someone else said up above, it’s amazing that these corporate Clear Channel stations are still in business.
    But then again, large amounts of regular people don’t even care about music anyway and think that Matchbox Twenty and Train represent “alternative” rock. Oh well.

    Localized radio stations were a boom for the local rock bands and the local rock scenes. I remember in the late ’70’s to the early to mid ’80’s in New York City metro area, at least 4 or 5 rock radio stations with a anti-establisment flavor and/or diverse playlists or private ownership. Nowadays, I think there’s only 1, WFUV, but even they are somewhat narrow in their appeal, which is mostly folk rock.

  21. PorkFist commented on Jul 22

    I would like to see Clear Channel die.

  22. Joe Seta commented on Jul 22

    Have you seen the NAB nominations? Your point is echoed by the NAB who have nominated KOZT ( Rock Station of the Year after they won the prestigous Marconi Award last year – it’s local radio in small market owned and programmed by someone who is beyond devoted… more like obsessed (but in a good way) with bringing the entire world of Rock from classics and currents to the foundational blues and folk talent who inspired the artists of yesterday and today. The owner/programer I speak of is Tom Yates who, with the help of MD Kate Hayes, program KOZT “for all of Mendocino County and points beyond.”
    I got swept up in the CC consolidation in the online world, and when they blew us all out 3 days before Christmas, moved up to the NorCal coast where KOZT is not just entertainment, it’s a community lifeline during winter storms, power outages and is a daily link to what’s going on in music and in life. Independent radio is alive and well on the North Coast and I’m proud to be a part-timer for KOZT – where “Our friends call us The Coast.”

  23. Avedon commented on Jul 24

    The only thing wrong with this post is that you’ve still accepted the common myth that CD sales are down. They’re not – and I think that’s largely due to file-sharing and Internet radio.

    If you look carefully at the figures for the supposed decline in the sales of music, you’ll find that the only number that’s gone down is the number of discs shipped. The companies used to get larger orders – and a consequent larger number of items returned, as well. What’s happening is that the shops used to grossly overestimate how many items they needed, but they are getting more accurate at estimating what they will sell, so their orders are smaller than they used to be, but they are selling more actual discs.

    If it’s true that a significant percentage of disks purchased at the retail level are counterfiet, that’s even more interesting in terms of what consumers are buying. The recording industry is reporting a rise in sales of around 15%, but counterfiet sales added to that suggest the real story is a quite significant rise in the amount of music being purchased. The Internet has to be the explanation for that, since broadcast radio is no longer a useful source of information about new music.

  24. Barry Ritholtz commented on Jul 24

    Sales have definitely been down globally over the past few years, as the economy slowed down in 2000-2003

    That said, they have rebounded smartly since late 2003

    The point you hint at, though, is a good one — if you take all of the Counterfeit CD sales, then the total units sold over this same period is likely flat to up –not down as the industry has screamed to the high heavens . . .

  25. roger a. migchelbrink commented on Jul 24

    good article. I laugh anymore when I hear the RIAA state that downloading has cut the sales of CDs. DUH! Most of what is produced is homogenous crap. and somewhat talentless at that. And it is produced to be heard on homogenous radio stations. Classic Rock (since when are Talking Heads “classic rock”, usually reserved for Cream, Hendrix and 2 tons of fun, aka The Guess Who), Hip Hop, oldies and classis R&B are the main genres except for right-wing talk radio. I travel a lot for business and my truck radio has programmed in NPR and the few independent stations across Colorado. When I fly somewhere, there is very little local content on the radio (much to my surprise, even in New Orleans) and I am stuck listening to non-distinct disc jockeys who play whatever it is they play and they are quickly turned off.

    I am old enough to remember Dean Martin being played on the same play list with the MC5 on AM radio. Teens wore their identity with their favorite radio stations on their cars and were emblems of pride. WIXY 1260 and WHK 1420 had different playlists, as did smaller market and racial station like WJMO mojo soul radio and WABQ Tiger radio. If you wanted a mix of R&B and top 40 you could listen to CKLW out of Detroit/Windsor.

    Then came the FM revolution. Fidelity was much better and if you were real lucky, it may even be in stereo. Free form radio and specific market segment playlists became popular. 100.7, the Buzzard even went so far as to play “Maggot Brain” at midnight for years. These stations were pioneers who knew they were alternative to AM and general corporate thinking. It was a culture, not a business. Alternative was not a psuedonym for college radio mix! It was a cultural thing. On WXRT out of Chicago you could hear Joe Jackson followed by Beethoven followed by Elvis Costello followed by Miles Davis. KTCL out of Fort Collins never went so far as to play classical in their mix, or bluegrass, but was a very good varied playlist. I mourn their demise as they were bought by Clear Channel and variety went to shit. A college rock station was about the best it could do.

    And with this demise in music choice on the radio, “big ears” shut down. What to buy–well I guess I will buy oldies and maybe something newer I kind of like. I was real happy when gnutella and Kazaa came out. I could download rumored artists you here played locally like Sonny Landreth or Ozomatli. If they were good, I would buy their CDs. Like I said, my listening is augmented by many NPR stations from Carbondale to Boulder to Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs. Often you cannot get the name of the artist and have to check the playlist in a couple of days when it is posted on the website. But listening like this and travelling has started me buying more and varied CDs and actually going to many more music shows at small market venues. (I feel very strange often being the only man over 50 seeing OZO or Robert Randolph or Ultimate Fake Book and dancing until I drop. You dance by yourself a lot because a 20-year old thinks you are a pervert hitting on her, oh well, I’ll get over it.) The music scene for main line commercial sales is ruined and the smaller market music is more fragmented and harder to find, but definitely worth it.

  26. Bruce Wayne commented on Jul 26

    Wouldnt it be great if your local radio station would start at about 1953 with Patsy Cline and play every song she and others made popular that year, then continue to 1954, 1955, etc? Play them all, in order. I know I would be glued to the radio the entire time. Of course, it would be ok with me if they stopped at 1972.

  27. Business Opportunities Weblog commented on Jul 26

    Carnival of the Capitalists

    Welcome to this week’s edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists. We’ve got a big show for you today: In An Alternative View Of Organizations in the Future, Gautam Ghosh speculates that in the future, organizations won’t organize for the…

  28. Business Opportunities Weblog commented on Jul 26

    Carnival of the Capitalists

    Welcome to this week’s edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists. We’ve got a big show for you today: In An Alternative View Of Organizations in the Future, Gautam Ghosh speculates that in the future, organizations won’t organize for…

  29. FunctionalAmbivalent commented on Jul 27

    Radio Sucks for More Reasons than Usher and Britney Spears

    The Big Picture is a blog run by Barry Ritholtz, a financial marketing guy, and it has an excellent analysis of why you’re listening to the radio a lot less lately. The problem is, according to The Big Pic, that

  30. Josh Cohen online commented on Jul 27

    Of Crap and Toast

    Holy crap on toast… the King of Fools has done a Bonfire of the Vanities that looks more like a Carnival of them. Good show. And speaking of crap on toast, I found this great article in the most current…

  31. Josh Cohen online commented on Jul 27

    Of Crap and Toast

    Holy crap on toast… the King of Fools has done a Bonfire of the Vanities that looks more like a Carnival of them. Good show. And speaking of crap on toast, I found this great article in the most current…

  32. Lead and Gold commented on Jul 28

    Radio’s Wounded Business Model

    Good post on the economic decline of radio.

  33. Bond007 commented on Jul 30

    Cogent. You hit the mark. I gave up on music in the car (till I opt for the satellite device). Meantime it’s sports radio all the time.

  34. Will Carroll Presents… commented on Aug 3

    The Almighty Power

    Just about everyone is linking this piece, so of course I will too. But my focus on this is not the Bush administration, which gets enough well deserved beating around here, but because it pertains to one of my favorite…

  35. blondesense commented on Sep 20

    I get WFUV here in NY which is as close to music radio as it used to be. We have other good local college stations. College radio may be the savior. WFDU is good too from NJ.

    As a local independent musician involved with the local music community we are in deep trouble trying to get heard. We can’t even have big music festivals without Clear Channel doing something to thwart it. Our last local commercial radio station which actually pretended to give a damn about the local scene sold out to a spanish station for 60 million dollars.

    So we have formed coalitions of hundreds (close to a thousand now) of independent artists locally:
    What do we do?
    We’ve got quite a few cable access tv shows on in several NY cable markets
    We’ve got musicians and fans hosting radio shows at several college radio stations
    We have a number of internet radio stations
    We have allies and musicians publishing local free press that advocates for independent music
    We have allies infiltrating the big newspapers
    We form groups and contact municipalities asking them if we can send artists to perform at their street fairs, festivals, etc.
    Guerilla marketing, baby. Guerilla marketing.

    We are pushing original independent music all over the place. It isn’t easy at all. Most people are jaded here in NY and can see “name” artists all the time. It’s an uphill battle but it’s all for the cause.

    Glad to hear the radio listeners are getting sick of Clear Channel already. Was wondering when they’d wake up. Perhaps this will be the bridge to massive media reform and regulations.

  36. Will Carroll Presents… commented on Oct 20

    Radio Rules

    This was inevitable with the Sirius/NFL deal, but it doesn’t reduce my enthusiasm. The dulcet tones of Herb Carneal can once again be heard by the faithful. The great thing about this is that the Clear Channels of the world…

  37. Will Carroll Presents… commented on Oct 20

    Radio Rules

    This was inevitable with the Sirius/NFL deal, but it doesn’t reduce my enthusiasm. The dulcet tones of Herb Carneal can once again be heard by the faithful. The great thing is the Clear Channels of the world had all of…

  38. Turbo commented on Oct 27

    Satellite Radio is the only way to go. Since i’ve had it i have never popped in another cd or changed to regular radio and ive had it for over 2 months now. I have sirius. From having howard stern (2006), NFL, eminiem, and varius other well know artists involved with them i feel their the only way to go. And as for BLONDESENSE i heard them say on satellite radio to send in your demos and they just might play them on their channels. just a thought for your band or other local artists to get your name on the map Good Luck. Also i know at this moment sirius has a deal for a lifetime subscription. somethin to think about its only like 500 bucks if you compare that to cds that would only be 25 cds at 20 a pop you can get a hell of a lot more music. good luck everyone with your commercial radio. Its kinda like my ex to me nevergoin back again.

  39. Greg commented on Sep 15

    I didnt even bother plugging in the radio part of my car stereo, I hear nothing but drivel on the radio….MTV and all its buddies are no better. My only option is word of mouth on the local music scene to hear about new acts i might like.

  40. KermodeBear commented on Nov 1

    Although music on the radio is dying for the reasons you just described, I don’t believe that talk radio is going away at all. Given that it is something different every day – and you can choose to whom you want to listen – you can be informed and entertained at the same time.

    Of course, on the other paw, many of the more prolific talk show hosts have daily downloads of their show available after the broadcast, allowing you to listen at your liesure – but for a fee. So, if enough people start paying to listen…

    What do you think?

  41. Matt commented on Nov 1

    I live in the Philadelphia Radio Area (Westville NJ).

    Ten years ago, when I was in eighth grade we had four choices for current Rock music.

    WDRE 103.9fm,
    -Modern Rock
    -New Punk/ Alternative
    WPLY Y100 100.3FM
    -Modern Rock
    -New Punk/ Alternative
    WMMR Rock 93.3fm
    -90s, 80s, 70s, some 60s
    WYSP 94Wysp Rock (90s, 80s) 94.1 fm
    -Louder Harder Rock,
    -Howard Stern,
    -Eagles Football Coverage
    -A Clear Channel Station


    WDRE 103.9 closed its doors in 1996
    – to my great regret. undoubtably the best station of the bunch
    – These guys had the best DJs (Preston Elliot in the afternoons, then the morning show)
    – WDRE DJs had the more freedom to play what they liked than other station—> BETTER MUSIC

    WPLY Y100 100.3 picked up most of WDRE’s djs after that
    – Y100 changed their format somewhat to attract WDRE listeners
    – Y100 closed earlier this year (sometime in March I think) without even informing its employees until the last minute
    – Y100 was Owned by RadioONE. RadioONE decide to “urbanize” its offerings by eliminating y100 (the only station it owned in philly that reached out to White listeners), moving its Rap station to a more “prime location” on the radio dial, and introducing a new gospel station.
    -Prior to this change in lineup for RadioONE, Y100 was surveyed to be a more popular station than the Number 2 Philly103.9 Rap station.

    WYSP 94 wysp was just switched to an all-talk station this past week.

    *****This leaves exactly ONE Rock station on the Philadelphia Radio Dial (excepting WMGK the classic rock station)

    Of course, now WMMR 93.3 has all the best djs and shows (because they hired all the best laid off employees from the other stations)

    But i consider radio almost dead- at least in this area.

  42. david commented on Nov 3

    fuv is ok

  43. panasianbiz commented on Jul 21

    I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. It seems a shame to me that radio seems to be losing the bulk of its audience. I have fond memories of how the radio once oversaw all my younger days.

  44. Soundhound commented on Feb 14

    There are two amazing stations in Northern California: – freeform folk, blues, jazz, soul, rock, and everything else – DJs pick all the tunes, local and live music supported – their sister modern rock station playing local and international bands, far more diverse than KROQ or “Edge” stations.

    Check them out. Amazing people.

  45. Neil Sambol commented on May 3


    I know you like Jazz…have you ever listened to WKCR – Columbia University ( They have been playing Jazz for over 60 years.

    They also have the “Dean of Jazz” — Jazz Historian Phil Schaap who has been hosting Birdflight (a 70 minute show 5 days a week featuring the music of Charlie Parker and friends). “Traditions in Swing” is Phil’s longest running show (over 30 years) from 6pm until 9pm on Saturdays featuring music from the Swing-Song tradition.

    WKCR also has a Reggae show, 2 blues shows (acoustic and electric) as well as country, Gospel and ethnic (African, Indian, Chinese) as well as Classical.

    But where they really shine is **Jazz** with birthday broadcasts and festivals. More than you ever wanted to know — and then some.

    Don’t miss this *GEM* in your own backyard — also available on the internet at

    I have been listening to WKCR for over 10 years, first over the airways when I lived in NY. Now over the Internet in Atlanta.

    Try it you’ll like it!


  46. Robin commented on Aug 11

    I remember back in the late 60,s when every body listened to the same radio stations like WABC. all races and ages. and then I remember the first hip hop station with mr. majic on WHBI. how radio has changed to tell you the truth I loved it back in the late 60,s early 70,s when every body listened to the same stations. folks new certain things were not tolerated. but I cant deny as a teenager growing up in the late 760,s-80,s I was excited to hear rap music on the air. because those rap artist were the people that was in my circle. and they introduced something new and I was happy to listen to it be presented to the rest of the world. but these new rap artist have taken it to a level that should not have been accepted.I love ole skool and I wish it would come back.

  47. Bob Leone commented on Sep 20

    a friend of mine wants to start a FREE RADIO STATION here in mid NV. I’ll build the bldg’s he needs & buy the equipment to play his 2.5M CD’s. I have a 200′ mast up & we hav power to use from Sierra Pacific Power Co. I hav been browsing a lot of web sites looking for studio’s on how they should look, but I can’t find any, can you help me? I am a retired businessman from Phx AZ & I hate to say it, but I am very wealthy, he is married to my, Grand daughter. Thx, Bob Leone

  48. The Big Picture commented on Mar 3

    Teenagers Shun CDs

    You knew music sales were bad, but I bet you didn’t realize just how bad they are: • 48% of teenagers bought no CDs at all in 2007, up from 38% in 2006.• Apple iTunes (AAPL) has surpassed Best Buy to become the second-largest music retailer in the U.S….

  49. Hot Music Man commented on Mar 10

    If you are really looking for some good music spinning 24hours a day and some pretty good hosts and DJs then you should check out

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