Radio Days

Back home after an exhausting trip to Goldsboro NC. On the ride home,
I listened to some NPR, one of my cheapo audiobooks – the abridged
version of Ralph Emery’s A View from Nashville, and
some of the Subgenius radio
ministries Hours of Slack.
Kind of an odd
mixture, but that’s what I’m about. I really enjoyed the Emery
audiobook, which was all anecdotes about various country music folks,
Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee, etc. I’ve been
getting reacquainted with my country and western roots lately. As a
kid in Nebraska and Kansas I heard a lot more Buck Owens and Eddie
Rabbit than Black Sabbath.

I heard something inexplicable while listening to NPR. In a story
about Michael Powell calling for FCC changes to the rules for radio
station ownership, some dude made the statement that further
consolidation would be great for commercial radio. “Many of these
smaller organizations don’t have the resources to create the content,
so this will help them out.” Folks, he’s talking about spinning
records. I’ve done it, and I can tell you that it ain’t that
hard. Yes, its true that someone must decide what you do and don’t
play. In a small station, that can be as little as an hour or two a
week. It was that way in KQNK when I was a DJ in the mid 80s, a small
daylight hours AM station. That’s an incorrect statement, and exactly
the wrong direction. There is already a growing body evidence that the
slump in record sales is rooted in the ever narrowing playlists caused
by media conglomeration. When one guy in Chicago or New York is
picking what hundred or thousands of stations play, when local
variation is snuffed out, when it is grossly expensive to crack into
that game, you see what we have today. Because every roll of the dice
on a new artist is so expensive, record companies devote more
resources to fewer acts, and acts less and less risky. It makes sense,
they have an investment to recoup so why take chances?

I found the story about the proposed
FCC rule changes:

The Federal Communications Commission considers new rules that would
increase the number of TV stations a single company can own. But both
Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Commerce Committee
charge the deregulation, which would increase media consolidation,
runs counter to public interest. NPR’s Rick Karr reports.

I’ve written about WBZB before. They are the stark
opposition to the nationally controlled playlists. They don’t play any
music that doesn’t originate in North Carolina. I listen to their
streaming MP3 feed sometimes, and because of the way I drive to
Goldsboro I can actually hear their air signal for about an hour, from
a little north of Fayetteville on I-95 until I get too far west on US
70. Fun stuff. I listened to them both ways, and I like the
station. God bless them for trying something different.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.