Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Nov. 27
- Community Blog
- San Diego Radio Views
Thoughts About The Clear Channel Massacre
The mass pinkslipping of 9 percent of the Clear Channel employees this past Tuesday just reminds us on how low commercial radio has become for the newer generations ahead of myself.
It's sadder to think that a burger flipper at McDonald's now has more job security and class than a radio station employee. The radio business just hasn't adjusted to today's hostile listener environment of 2009.
Clear Channel would have been a better company if it wasn't a control freak, forcing homogenized playlists on radio stations full of songs that people don't want to hear, and not allowing people who love music to think for themselves. This is what has driven listeners away in droves, causing radio stations to loose ad revenue, and to shrink their employee count.
Mp3s on the Internet featuring music that Clear Channel would never play is often more interesting than what they are airing. Every station sounds like cookie cutter adult contemporary, country, or rock formats.
Back before radio was allowed to own more than seven AM and seven FM stations (one AM/FM max in each market), there were far more voices that helped shape the sound of top 40 radio today than there are today. Putting music playlist decisions in the many back in the 60s and 70s helped foster a melting pot of ideas that other stations owned by other companies picked up on such as what songs were popular on their competetors in the market or out of market. There could have been a few companies that controlled the playlists of its 14 stations, but I can't name any and I don't know for sure if that ever was true, but I hope that there was no such thing as that back then.
With fewer radio station owners picking the songs, listeners showed radio how stupid it was by playing gatekeeper to them as they revolted to their music downloads and Internet streaming, leaving the terrestrial radio stations in the lurch.
What's on San Diego radio's formats? adult contemporary, hip hop, alt rock, classic rock, hot a/c, contemporary hits, contemporary country, smooth jazz, right wing talk, sports talk, brokered programming, and foreign language programming.
There's also nonprofit broadcasting stations playing mostly fare that is geared to mature listeners such as traditional jazz and NPR, but a few play some youth oriented music.
But the listeners want more, and radio just doesn't want to give it to them, so they leave for greener pasutres, helping Clear Channel to put over 1,800 people out of work because their ratings are tanking and ad revenue ebbed.
Clear Channel and the other radio companies have noone else to blame but themselves for turing radio into an unprestigious job that ranks lower than that of a sanitary worker.
Clear Channel has jettisonned many local talkers and deejays and replaced them with syndicated or voice-tracked programming depending on the market. In San Diego, XTRA is only a shell of its former self when it came to exist 20 years ago or so. XTRA might as well rebrand itself as Fox Sports and retire the XTRA name for good. Nowadays, XTRA is short for X-CRA-ment.
KGB has nothing but a local morning show in a sea of worn out classic rock and jockless programning. It's nothing but radio nowhere when DSC signs off. It's nothing like it was in the good ol' Hergon Breakfast Club days of my college years.
Rock 105.3's music is uninspired. Star 94.1 is unlistenable. Channel 933 skews too young for my tastes. New Country 95.7 isn't my kind.
KOGO has only three local talkers, Chip Franklin, Jack Rice (who's based in another city), and Steve Yuhas. XTRA, or Fox, or whatever on 1360, still has Josh Rosenberg. And that's it. Roger Hedgecock went to syndication and he's no longer on Clear Channel's payroll. XTRA and KOGO are syndicated the rest of the way. Local radio talk shows have gone the way of the cassette tape player.
There might have been talk that Clear Channel was trying to execute the cuts during the Inauguration festivities on Jan 20 so that it would not hit the press, but that has not been the case, seeing that it is one of the most e-mailed articles on the SD Union-Tribune websites, as well as lots of media outlets around the country. That according to sdwulfdawg on one of the radio-info.com boards.
It's weird to think that back then in 1979 when there was only LPs and cassette tape players competeting with radio for music listening time, radio was better produced and the music selection was better. I listened to a January 1979 episode of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem rerun on XM channel 7 the other day and I saw how much top 40 of today has declined in quality compared to back then. Even the era where disco and mellow adult pop ruled the charts is better than what passes for hit music today.
Seems that Channel 933 doesn't want listeners over the age of 35 and their playlist shows.
Nowadays, radio has Internet streaming devices, satellite radio, mp3 files, CDs, video games, Music Choice, and podcasts competeting against commercial radio, and commercial radio isn't doing anything to competet against them except to consolidate, eradicate, automate, and agitate.
A letter from Bill Hergonson published in the SD Reader last week shed some light on the history of radio and what radio was like back then. Back in 1979, the music playing on KGB was called progressive rock. Today, the same songs played 30 years later are called classic rock. Where's the innovative spirit that KGB had back then?
Here's what I like for the readers to do. Send me links to your favorite radio stations that you listen to on the Internet, regardless of whether it's a broadcast station or just online only and I'll publish them in a future column here, as well as on my main website San Diego Radio News, located at sandiegoradionews.com