Thursday, January 22, 2009
WHAT IF RADIO JUST WENT AWAY, WOULD ANYONE CARE?
Families no longer gather around the radio. They do that with televisions now. I'm not so sure, if radio was to become a thing of the past, whether anyone would really miss it. The issue was raised on Allan Sniffen's New York Radio Message Board in a thread about Clear Channel's decision to make $400-million in cuts, beginning next week. "How many of the company's 30,000 jobs would they cut?", one poster wondered. Another lamented, it would signal a sell-off of radio stations by the nations biggest broadcast owners. This, the poster, speculated could open the door for entrepreneurs to take over many of the stations and try to re-invent radio.
I'm in radio, but get this, I don't really listen to radio. Right now, in the background, I'm listening to the 70's channel on Time Warner Cable. I watch CNN, FOX and the local T.V affiliates mosts days . I still read a newspaper or two a day but, I get most of my news for the Internet sites of news organizations, like newspapers, T.V stations, networks and even a few blogs.
If radio, as we know it, ended tomorrow, I probably wouldn't notice until a few weeks later, when I decided to turn it on for one reason or another. You see, I don't have a car here in New York City, so I don't need it for traffic or even weather. It's right on my browser, so are headlines and sports scores.
I believe the days of Satellite radio, are also numbered. Sirius and XM have now merged. They've slashed costs and people. Howard Stern alone is under a $500-million dollar, five year contract. Sirius/XM owe a fortune to creditors.On the consumer side, people don't want to pay for something they can get for free and in this crappy economy, free is good.
Listen, I've made a career out of radio and a look forward going to work everyday. There's nothing like walking into the newsroom at ABC NEWS radio, sitting down at a desk, pounding out a newscast and walking into that booth to deliver the news. Millions of people are listening in towns,large and small. Sure, it's an ego boost but it's also an honor and privilege to be on the air. Having said that, our industry is slowly deteriorating. Every few days, another radio colleague emails me about their demise at some radio station.
Fact of the matter is, before computers, HDTV, cable, satellite and Internet-connected cell phones, people DEPENDED on radio. That dependence started ending in the early 80's. Cable surfaced, cell phones (although large and clunky) hit the market and Internet access for masses was just around the corner. Back then, and more so before, people needed radio for news and entertainment. People were always on the go and no technology, except radio, kept them in touch. Hell, now, you can have a T.V installed in your car or SUV. Satellite and the Internet, as well.
Great radio stations in the 60's, 70's and 80's were a dime a dozen. They were everywhere. Now, everything sounds the same because of corporate streamlining, driven by the recession. There are exceptions, but it's not the norm. Just another cookie cutter radio station in My Town, USA. Listen, I'll miss radio.....not listening to it, but being on it.