In 1998, KLZR, the FM rock station in the small town Lawrence, Kansas was voted by Rolling Stone to be in the “Top 10 Stations that Don’t Suck.” Within a year the station was sold and the format was changed to sound like every other station on the dial. Listeners protested but it was too late. This scene was happening everywhere across the US. Small towns and large cities were losing their local voices because Congress had just made massive radio consolidation legal through the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Why is Jewel holding the number five? At any given time, there were 5 local bands played in regular rotation on her local rock station 91x in San Diego. These artists were mostly unknown before they were given air-play (Jewel was homeless at the time). Local DJs built a local critical mass behind these acts that launched some of them to grace the rest of the nation and the world. A local DJ can raise awareness for a local charity, a civic concern or a band. That ended when control of local radio was taken over by out-of-town conglomerate bosses.
How can a station make money if it continually abandons its listeners? This question was brought to us by veteran broadcaster Dick Fatherley, who could not understand the mismanagement of the stations that he loved. The math didn’t add up. The price of stations were skyrocketing while the quality of the product was plummeting. How were they making money? We discovered that there was a new breed of high financiers who were making money off of the downsizing, refinancing and maintenance of conglomerate radio. We made this film because we love radio and see a way out of this.