I cannot tell you how many emails and comments we get saying two words “Radio Sucks” and I can help but to think that most people don’t know WHY Radio Sucks. For this story, we’ll use Black radio so that we can explain further. It was once the ONLY outlet black people had to find out what was happening in the community, sure there was Church (no comment) but radio had more far reaching ability.
In addition it was the place white stations tuned in to to learn the styles and flow of celebrity black DJs. Black radio was innovative and it was a force that CREATED the trends. Now black radio FOLLOWS the trends and while the ratings system Arbitron claims radio is still extremely profitable, it is rare that I personally find ANYONE who can listen to today’s radio stations ANYWHERE longer than 2 minutes.
It is the reason I myself, a radio vet will not work in today’s radio. It’s boring and regimented and listeners are very MUCH aware of it. Come along on a quick journey with me where I take you into the inner-workings of radio and explain to you the REAL reasons radio sucks.
Too MUCH Research
Research, research research. In all honesty, I’m surprised radio doesn’t reseach how many times listeners fart. The research is to the point that it’s obsessive. There is no man on the streets anymore and everything is about “playing the hits.” Many people complain the music is not what it used to be and they think it’s the Music Industry. That’s actually NOT the case. There is a TON of GREAT music out there that NEVER GETS EXPOSED because of RADIO’s DECISION NOT TO PLAY IT. The labels are inundated with product, radio just won’t play it because there is no “research” on it but how do you get research on something brand new? Perhaps you can research the research?
Too Many Old and Out of Touch People Involved in the Decision Making
This is a HUGE problem. Most radio programmers in Black radio today are over 40 but that doesn’t mean they absolutely can’t program or that they don’t understand hit music, truth is…they are not ALLOWED to make the final call… THAT’s the problem. Before most of them can add a record into the on air rotation, it has to be discussed with the higher ups who in many cases ARE EVEN OLDER and they DON’T have an understanding of the music and only go into the hood for a haircut or when they have a taste for Turkey Necks and fatbacks. Some of the people in charge of radio’s programming decisions today have no ties to urban culture AT ALL.
Syndicated Morning Shows..
Would you listen to your grandfather every morning on the radio on your way to school? Well that’s pretty much what you’re doing if you listen to urban radio.
Tom Joyner is almost 60, for example, and while his show is a success (at putting me BACK to sleep), it leaves a HUGE gap for local listeners who thrive on local information, the latest trends, technology and meeting the morning show hosts face to face (like at a McDonald’s breakfast remote).
With all due respect to Tom’s 400 years of radio tenure there has been a whole decade of great new, innovative and thriving morning show talent left to die because they didn’t have a slot on the radio station. Tom has carte blanche to play music on his show but he’s almost 60! Nobody is interested in hearing a new single from Ma Rainey.
There’s just no chance that he will be able to pick the latest hip hop music trend in music? I’m not mad at Steve Harvey and I predict he will not be on the radio much longer, he was in it to win it to create opportunities for minorities in show business and that’s always a great thing.
No New Blood
The people working in radio today have been working in it for at least 10 years. The changes that took place over the last decade within the industry (Napster) have made the industry a bit gun-shy when it comes to technology. Most radio stations owned by corporations have extremely boring websites with dated information and this will eventually come back to haunt commercial radio. The industry also wants people they don’t have to train and can control, who better than middle aged pros stripped of their total power whose job security is constantly threatened?
In order for corporations to control pay for play, they watch programmers like hawks while they find ways to make the extra money themselves. Some accuse the radio corporations of monopolizing the entertainment industry at every turn and it’s no secret amongst industry insiders.
The listeners are savvy and the artists are fighting back. As the online community for new music continues to grow, I predict commercial radio will have a very unpleasant surprise in the near future with no opportunity to recover.