Fool’s Gold

Jerry Del Colliano again whups up on the big guns of commercial radio in this post, leading off with this:

Would you believe that Radio One fired its entire airstaff at urban adult contemporary WMMJ “Magic 102” in Washington last week? With the exception of the syndicated Tom Joyner show in the mornings, their latest brainstorm is to turn the station into a 24-hour a day iPod with no jocks and “all music all the time.”

This could as well be written about your local public radio station, going canned with all-talk or AAA tripe. Jerry himself, in an email exchange, noted that many of the public stations act like the commercial behemoths. The hitch, as he notes: “The only problem is that WMMJ’s virtual ‘iPod’ features the music it likes and not what you necessarily like.” And thus the problem with some overpaid “music director” making out a playlist to fill your radio station. Jerry also takes a slap at the slavish attention paid to Arbitron’s “new, improved” numbers:

Another stupid radio trick is to assume that the People Meter really reports radio listening. Of course, it does not. It reports drive-by impulses picked up by devices worn by a flawed group of respondents who picked up an encoded signal. To radio, that’s listening but it would be a big mistake to think eliminating all live and local jocks will gain listening….

Radio is hell bent on turning itself into an iPod. Without live and local, radio is an iPod of its own making. Most listeners would rather hear their own playlists if foolish owners like Radio One confuse increased ratings with no live and local personalities.

Jerry next turns to Clear Channel:

As you know Mark Mays recently announced he was stepping down as CEO of Clear Channel by year’s end. But in documents filed last week with the SEC uncovered by Clear Channel-owned Inside Radio (way to go guys!), Mays will remain employed at Clear Channel through 2013.

Now let’s stop and think about this.

Clear Channel, the company that decimated its staff with firings on Inauguration Day 2009 (not to mentioned before and after) in the name of economy will require that Mays will be able to work only 20% of his present hours and still earn $1 million a year. The wealthy and shameless Mays gets to do virtually nothing for a cool mil.

Something is seriously wrong with an industry that fires people like the Italian government replaces Prime Ministers and then continues to pay them a million dollars for working less than part-time. This backs up what I have been saying for years that the cutbacks were a fraud. The nationalization of local radio is unnecessary if financial concerns were the issue. The greed and only greed is responsible for the heap of trouble big radio operators have brought upon the industry.

Can the same be said of our public radio stations? As the Cato Report posted here noted, the big non-comms like KUT and ‘GBH, in their pursuit of ever-more taxpayer dollars, resemble nothing less than Clear Channel flunkies:

Community stations that previously got by on listener pledges and local underwriting might be eligible for thousands more — if they hire more full-time staff, increase their broadcast hours, seek more funds, and, under the new rules, make their programming more mainstream in pursuit of higher Arbitrons. The result, as Democratic Communiqué editor Jon Bekken has noted, has been to encourage “ambitious expansion programs” that foster professionalization and centralization. In many cases, stations have received less money in government assistance than they spent making themselves eligible for that support.

As previously noted, KUT spends more money raising money now than the entire “take” ten years ago — and still pleads poverty and axes local talent (while at the same time funding its “digital initiative,” bulking up a local news department at the behest of NPR, and bringing in much more expensive outside talent). And the bean counters are mystified why people might be a bit ticked. If you have any question about that — and a thick skin — just take a look at these comments about a Clear Channel station that flipped in Columbus.

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