I wrote this in response to an 11/24 post in Inside Music Media blog: "Better Radio at No Additional Cost". After 27 years in radio sales, I have left the business but the business has not left me. I still love radio and it pains me to see what is happening to stations across the country.
It's too pat to say "people are leaving radio to ESCAPE all the things you and Dick Carr are talking about." Radio isn't dead but it is certainly suffering. I grew up in a great radio market, Los Angeles, in the 1960s. As a teenager, I listened to all the great AMs: 93 KHJ, KRLA, KBLA (wow what a station!) and the like. I attended the KHJ Teen Fair every yr to see performing Top 40 acts & the up & comers. The client booths & displays were amazing. When I was young, it was possible to see really great groups at an affordable price in small venues: everything from The Troubadour to the Hullabaloo to the Whiskey to the Santa Monica Civic. Kids could not only afford concert tickets then but the radio told them where everything was "happening".
And it wasn't just about the kids listening habits either. My father, a national radio rep who owned his own firm, listened to the other great AMs, the older skewing ones: KMPC (Dick Whittinghill was his favorite & mine), KFWB, KABC, etc. He instilled the love of radio in me and I ended up in the business selling air time.
Concerts are no longer affordable for anyone. Venues are no longer intimate. Everything is about size, cost & exclusion. Anyone who's ever seen a concert in a stadium knows the acoustics suck, good seats cost a fortune and, unless you know someone, you're not going to get close enough to see anything anyway. So what is it you're paying for? To say you went?
If you believe in the pendulum theory of life, you know that the pendulum swings too far one way and then begins to swing back. Perhaps radio and music and the labels have to go through these crushing mega mergers and corporate acquisitions for people to finally realize that private ownership, small ownership is best. The radio industry is capable of recovery. It just needs a paradigm shift away from what it's become.
As a post script, December issue of Vanity Fair has a wonderful reminiscent article on Motown and what the music industry was like in those days and how the radio industry spurred it along.