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Here’s what’s wrong with corporate radio stations. Let’s fix it. – Orange County Register

I’ve taken a lot of flak over the years from what I call the “corporate radio apologists” on various internet groups. They say I don’t understand the pressures of modern radio (I do, but most pressures are brought on by the owners themselves) and radio the way I like it is a thing of the past.

I’ve also gotten a lot of support from owners, programmers, DJs current and past, and behind-the-scenes employees across the country — most often off the record — wherein they basically say I have it right. Or at least close.

My long-held contention is that radio has created most of its own problems, going back to the 1970s and ‘80s when AM pushed listeners to FM and the late 1990s and 2000s when FM started pushing to listeners to non-radio entertainment, first satellite radio and iPods, later streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. Yet, I still hold it can be reversed, and I think a recent survey from my own students (see the column from August 26) and comments taken from a 2019 Edison Research survey available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0WC5sqPO7E may back me up. The Edison survey was recently highlighted by InsideMusicMedia.Com’s Jerry Del Colliano.

It all basically comes down to too much clutter and far too many commercials. Song repetition is mentioned as well, but that can easily be fixed. Here are some of the comments from the survey participants listening to a Ryan Seacrest morning show on KIIS-FM (102.7):

“A lot of commercials. Still goin’!”“I might change the station and get involved in something else … and forget to flip back.”“Oh, here’s the car commercial I hate.”“If all these commercials were on the station I was listening to, I’d be on Spotify now.”“How long have the advertisements been on now?”“This is crazy.”“Especially if you’re in the car … your ten-minute drive is all commercials.”“There might be something I want to listen to, but it’s not worth it.”

I present: THE REASON radio is losing favor, especially among young people.

Yet it’s not like we don’t have a how-to manual available on how to run a radio station. When KHJ launched Boss Radio top-40 in 1965, a huge part of the appeal was “more music.” And there was: the station limited not only the number of commercials per hour, they were also limited per break. Six minutes per hour; two commercials per break. This gave them a chance to charge more per commercial as advertisers got more value for their dollar, and it attracted more listeners than ever to the format. Within months, KHJ was the number one station in town.

KHJ lost its way for a while, in the mid-1970s, but showing that the idea works: Chuck Martin Brough KHJ back in a huge way in 1979 with a tremendous staff, great music selection, and … you guessed it, limited commercials. 20 minutes continuous with no more than three commercials per break, usually two.


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