OK, that’s an exaggeration. But the truth remains…there are so many songs that I’ve heard so many times that I literally cannot listen to them again. It’s like fingernails on a blackboard. All I need to hear is a couple of notes in the introduction of the song, and I immediately make the decision as to whether it’s worthy of my time or not.
For this reason (but not this reason alone) I cannot listen to the radio anymore…not for any period of time anyway. Oh, I always was a button pusher, kind of like most men are with the TV remote. I would listen to a song, then if I didn’t like the next one, I would push the button to change to another station to see if I would like the song that was playing there…and so on and so on.
Even for a five minute trip to the grocery store, I have to take my ipod along with me. I’ve tried to just walk out of the house and tell myself that for such a short trip there should be SOMETHING on the radio that I can tolerate. But time and time again, radio lets me down. There has been a lot of great music produced in the past 10 to 20 years, but no one is playing it. And I don’t mean the soft pop or the rap stuff…I’m referring to music that a guy like me might be interested in hearing…REM, vintage Police, Prince…that kind of thing.
But no…every time I tune to a station, at least here in Central Illinois, I hear the same stuff, like time stopped in 1985. I hear Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, Steve Miller, Journey…the lame list goes on. And the worst part is, they play THE SAME SONGS by these artists over and over again. If they play a Kansas song, it’s never “Portrait” or “Got To Rock On”…it’s ALWAYS “Carry On Wayward Son” or maybe “Dust in the Wind”. If they play a Seger song, it’s never “Fire Down Below” or even the live classic “Ramlin’ Gamblin’ Man”…it’s ALWAYS “Old Time Rock & Roll” or “Turn The Page”. I’m so SICK of these songs. How can anyone NOT be? We’ve heard the same music for 40 years!
Why is that? Because radio has gotten lazy, and radio station owners (mostly huge conglomerates) only care about one thing…cutting their staff to the bare minimum, and trying to make every dime they can. They could spend a little more time, effort and money to invest in a good staff that knows music and maybe take a chance on playing something that not everyone else is playing. But that’s not immediately profitable. I really feel sorry for the people who are still working in radio that worked with me in the business. They know what it was like to be proud of what you were playing, and would work hard to win listeners, not because it made a lot of money, but because it meant that people liked us. Now, there is nothing to be proud of.
I always say that if I were to win the lotto, I would start buying radio stations and try to rescue the business from the abyss that it has become. I would hire an adequate staff so that one person isn’t doing three different jobs on three different stations. Screw research. Screw consultants. Screw trends. I would hire the right people to program by sheer instinct. And it would be successful.
I’m ranting now, but I was forced to leave a business that I loved because a bunch of bureaucrats thought that FCC deregulation was a good idea. It wasn’t. It ruined radio, quite possibly to the point of no return. It wasn’t the internet that killed radio, nor was it satellite radio, nor was it the ipod.
Radio is dead because no one cared or dared to fight for it.