The titans in corporate radio are finally going bankrupt (like we predicted). Here’s why.
- They failed to bring new relevant content. They pushed listeners to the internet in search of the new music that radio abandoned. If radio does play new music now, it’s from corporate playlists.
- They failed to feature their local communities. Corporate radio can’t promote a local community when nobody is live in the studio to interact with the locals. Furthermore, DJs are restricted to endorsing the corporate script, which leaves little time for local music, local charities or local businesses.
- They succeeded in fooling the financial press. Consolidators bought healthy stations at such high prices that firing the staff was the only way to pay off the inflated debt. When is the press going to ask questions about corporate debt and how it relates to Private Equity and mass firings?
- Private Equity (PE). When a holding company (PE) can put debt on an industry but not be responsible for that financial burden, bad management can be expected. To be fair, PE does not own all of radio, but they own enough of it to have artificially inflated the prices of radio stations across the market. As long as Private Equity remains part-owner of radio, station prices will continue to be artificially high in their market value and unaffordable to those who want to revive local radio.
- They increased commercials. This doesn’t mean radio increased revenues because they also made those commercials cheaper. More repeat commercials per hour now grate on our nerves. Thanks.
- They fired all the DJs. Ok, there are still some DJs but they’re overworked and they can’t curate music. And when night shifts were eliminated, there was no longer a place for new DJs to hone their skills. The skill of interacting with a live audience is not something you can develop in a podcast. Live DJ’s were the heart and soul of local radio.
- They elected to buyout the competition rather than be better than it. This is actually a paraphrase of something that DJ/host Mancow told me. “When you buyout the competition there is no incentive to be the best”.
- They divided listeners instead of uniting them. They stopped broadcasting and started narrowcasting. The corporate owners divided us into narrow demographics to advertise to. Most people are more complex and nuanced than this. Dividing us up has also had a damaging effect on our nation’s politics.
- They gutted news departments. Imagine a time when rock stations had their own reporters and you will get a picture of a much more informed society. Even those who did not seek out news were exposed to some amount of information to stay involved in voting, local charities and emerging local businesses. Cutting the news department also made it harder for the station sales staffs to sell station ad time because they couldn’t pull the heart-strings of advertisers with stories of what good the station was doing in the community. It made it harder to mobilize their audiences.
- The telecom act of 1996. What? Yeah something that congress did in 1996 ultimately is behind all of these reasons. This is what changed radio from a locally owned business into a high finance trading chip. Thanks Bill Clinton / Newt Gingrich Congress of 1996.
Cumulus/Clear Channel/“I Heart” want their killing of radio to be swept under the rug. We can’t let that happen, or they will repeat the cycle. This is why we put Corporate FM on Amazon Prime.