Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A postola on payola

A few days back I mentioned 95.7 FM in SF had switched to a country format, and was kicking it off by playing "10,000 songs in a row commercial free." The commercial free part is swell, but I guess I didn't realize they were going to play the same 100 songs a 100 times each. I should have guessed.

I've been reading Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media by Eric Klineberg, which explains a lot about why music radio has such tiny playlists. One explanation is simple-the big recording companies have been paying the big broadcasters for spins. What? You thought payola was outlawed in the 50s? Well, sure it was, and no one ever finds a loophole, do they? So today in the news, reports of a deal between the 4 big media conglomerates and the FCC to settle the latest payola scandal. And what a surprise! An insignificant fine, a token offer to play some non-corporate tunes (for a little while), and back to business as usual. With the huge amounts of commercials, the repetition of songs, and the on-air talent pool diluted by years of consolidations and voice-tracking, you have to wonder who's listening to traditional radio anymore.

Well, OK, I still am. But I'm not happy about it. The only morning show that's any fun these days is Armstrong and Getty on KNEW 910 AM. Case in point of why I like them: a few days ago when the "Jesus' tomb" story was in the news, Joe Getty said the way they knew it was really the bones of Jesus was that around the wrist there was a bracelet that said "What Would I Do?"...

1 comment:

hillbilly deluxe said...

Radio - music radio - is dead. It has been for some time, from my perspective - with the exception of either personality-driven shows like your fav A&G, Don Imus and such or topic-driven shows like sports, politics, or picking stocks. The music on radio is as you described - repetitive playlists packed with commercials. I thought I'd hate satellite radio until my new car came with it installed and gave me a free year. Its great (so far)! Little or no commercials, LOTS of variety, and little or no censorship (is that still possible?). I still hate the thought of paying for what I think should be free, but to rid myself of tired songs and ads I will relent and pay. Do we even have a local radio scene? Our local station is an embarrassment and a disgrace to such a fine community as is Napa and the entire Valley. To see this once proud station a mere shell of it's former self is both maddening and disheartening. The whining and painful-to-listen-to imbecile that runs it should be sent back to his beloved Northeast. His condescending attitude as the self-appointed savior come to educate the small town hicks is annoying and insulting at best. But I digress...