Tag Archives: radio

WHO MADE WHO: Rock radio, targeted males, and the tyranny of nostalgia

In January 2018, rock radio in Chicago met its eschatological fate when K-Love ran the flaming sword of the archangel Uriel through the prostrate body of WLUP. The Loop had first declared itself the city’s loudest radio mouth in the late 1970s, when Steve Dahl burned disco records in a big fuck you to anyone who challenged the white male’s perceived right to be an obnoxious, ignorant clown. The station’s AOR format downshifted into hard rock, and a steady thrum of AC/DC, Def Leppard, Skynyrd, Foghat, and “Get the Led Out” rock blocks blasted from suburban garages, unfinished basements, and cinder block high school weight rooms, eventually traveling through the cocaine and Aqua Net hair metal era and onward to grunge and “active rock,” i.e. lots of Foos and Nirvana. But by the mid-aughts, radio listenership had splintered, coalesced, and splintered again to form into specific micro-demos, and The Loop’s blunt instrument approach was wavering. Its battering ram dulled, the Christians came calling, and with their “positive and encouraging” CCM niche, they squashed the dude rock bug dead. All stop signs, all speed limits; highway to hell, indeed.

Enter Labor Day Weekend, 2020. With the suddenness typical of terrestrial radio moves like this, iHeartMedia flipped its “Big 95.5” modern country format to “Rock 95 Five” and cued up a core playlist of Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, Green Day, Def, Foo, and Motley Crue. Radio bigwigs described the move as returning ”a key soundtrack to a large lifestyle group,” and white guys aged 25 to 54 driving around Chicagoland in their grey 2003 Ford Mustangs with a vinyl bumper sticker featuring Calvin pissing on a Chevy logo suddenly felt seen again.

The visual branding for “Rock 95 Five” is all blacks, reds, and bold dips, sort of the typographic version of a football lineman who does up his eye black in tragicomic kabuki. A recent playlist scan featured Foreigner’s loutish “Hot Blooded,” “Beautiful People” from Marilyn Manson (a song which reveals its extreme debt to Alice Cooper schlock as it ages), the Foos doing “All My Life,” and Steven Tyler’s lewd scatting on Aerosmith’s “Rag Doll.” A nod toward relative tenderness (or at least an acoustic guitar) came in the form of the Black Crowes’ heroin paen “She Talks to Angels,” and 95 Five finished out the set with the turgid knuckle dragging of Creed’s “My Own Prison,” a song and band where emo is bruised, battered and recast as the singular right of the white male animal to have what are otherwise known as all of the feels. There are no women here. (Maybe Alanis. Maybe.) There are no people of color, aside from a few Hendrix nuggets. And the imaging positioners that drop in between songs exclusively feature a smarmy white male voice shouting stock phrases like “Do you even lift, bro?” and leering that “we’ll melt your face, and melt it good.” A certain kind of male is in control again. As he sees it.

Continue reading WHO MADE WHO: Rock radio, targeted males, and the tyranny of nostalgia

The Music of Money

Somehow along the way I missed that “iHeartMedia, Inc., the parent company of iHeartCommunications, Inc., . . . one of the leading global media, entertainment and data companies,” “filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division” last March 14. The Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings portion of the business—essentially the billboard part of things, and I don’t mean Billboard as in publication but “billboard” as those eyesores—wasn’t part of the filing.

When the filing was announced, Bob Pittman, iHeart chairman and CEO stated in a news release, “We have transformed a traditional broadcast radio company into a true 21st century multi-platform, data-driven, digitally-focused media and entertainment powerhouse with unparalleled reach, products and services now available on more than 200 platforms, and the iHeartRadio master brand that ties together our almost 850 radio stations, our digital platform, our live events, and our 129 million social followers.”

While that sounds all-good, the statement went on to say, “The agreement we announced today is a significant accomplishment, as it allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure.”

Yes, 21st century. Multi-platform. Data-driven. Digitally focused. Social followers.

And $20-billion in debt.

Continue reading The Music of Money

Yes, People Still Listen to the Radio

While I anxiously await Nielsen’s year-end music sales report, I thought I’d share a few highlights of their recent recap of the state of the radio industry at the end of 2016:

• “radio’s reach is larger than any other format [TV, PC, devices] and only continues to grow year-over-year”

• “radio reaches 93% of U.S. each week” (That’s 225,207,000 adults!)

• Old people (55+) love the “News Talk Information” format. Overall, it was #1 with a 9.6% share.

• Young people love Pop Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR). It was #1 among both 18-34 year olds (with 12.2%) and 35-54 year olds (with 8.8%).

The way the radio industry describes its formats is weird and creepy though. You’d think I’d be used to it after 20 years of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but I’m not. I still get skeeved out when I read about “Hot Adult Contemporary” and “Urban Adult Contemporary” which are different from plain old “Adult Contemporary” and, of course, “Urban Contemporary.” But what can you do?

2008 Year End Radio Charts

The following charts from R&R (Radio & Records, Inc.) are based on radio airplay…

Top Alternative Songs:

1 LET IT DIE Foo Fighters (Roswell/RCA/RMG) 41,414 plays

2 THE PRETENDER Foo Fighters (Roswell/RCA/RMG) 40,248

3 PORK AND BEANS Weezer (DGC/Geffen/Interscope) 39,873

4 PSYCHO Puddle Of Mudd (Flawless/Geffen/Interscope) 37,309

5 FAKE IT Seether (Wind-up) 36,969

6 RISE ABOVE THIS Seether (Wind-up) 34,307

7 LONG ROAD TO RUIN Foo Fighters (Roswell/RCA/RMG) 33,996

8 INSIDE THE FIRE Disturbed (Reprise) 33,984

9 SHADOW OF THE DAY Linkin Park (Warner Bros.) 33,113

10 GIVEN UP Linkin Park (Warner Bros.) 32,432

An alternative to good, maybe… Oy.

Continue reading 2008 Year End Radio Charts

Steve Dahl vs. CBS Radio

Disco sucks.Over on his blog, WTFF=What the !#@% factor, GLONO friend and contributor DJ Murphy eulogizes Chicago disc-jockey Steve Dahl, who was just fired by CBS Radio.

I really enjoyed his show; I had been a big fan since discovering that he had Buzz Killman and Wendy Snyder as his co-hosts. Both Buzz and Wendy were seasoned Chicago jocks who I’d enjoyed, and their presence coaxed me into listening to Steve. Before that, I honestly thought that the Steve and Garry show was kind of flat, and definitely more mean-spirited at times than I usually liked. But with Buzz and Wendy, Steve’s humor was less cruel; it was a bunch of old friends who’d worked together for years at The Loop (WLUP-FM) now in a new venue. I really liked the easy humor, the fact that they all knew Chicago well, and that in a lot of ways, I could see them as just regular folk like myself. I became a fan.

Dahl, of course, is most famous for his 1979 Disco Demolition event at Comiskey Park. Good times.

Some People Still Listen to Radio

Who knew? According to the New York Times, people are listening to a lot less radio than they were ten years ago. It surprises me that they’re still listening at all. But apparently, radio has slipped a lot more when it comes to college graduates:

Over the last decade, college graduates ages 25-54, who make up an increasingly large portion of the population, have abandoned radio eight times faster than nongraduates. Today, they listen to 15 hours and 45 minutes of radio a week, while their peers without degrees listen to 21 hours and 15 minutes weekly.

A pointless graphic in the piece points out that weekly radio listening has decreased 240 minutes among folks with a degree while it’s only decreased 30 minutes among non-graduates. The article blames the discrepency on the types of jobs people do, but I wonder how much it has do with iPods…

How many hours of radio do you listen to per week? I’d estimate that I listen to approximately one hour of commercial radio per week. If you include NPR, it probably jumps to 10-12 hours per week. I listen to my iPod approximately 25-30 hours per week.

Continue reading Some People Still Listen to Radio

Justice Department OKs XM-Sirius merger

Looks like you satellite radio owners are one step closer to expanding your channel selection. The Justice Department today approved the merger of XM and Sirius more than a year after the two companies announced their plans to join forces.

According to the CNN report, the Department of Justice determined that an XM-Sirius merger was not anti-competitive because of the proliferation of other media outlets like the Internet, mp3 players, etc.

“Since we determined that there was no competition between the companies, we did not need to set any conditions as such,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Barnett during a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon.

The FCC has yet to weigh in.

It’s unclear how the merger would affect pricing or content offerings, but the companies said last year that they would be willing to offer a so-called “a la carte” price plan where consumers could pick certain packages for less money.

You XM subscribers better get ready for some Ba Ba Booey!

Year End Radio Charts

Top Alternative Songs

1 WHAT I’VE DONE Linkin Park (Warner Bros.) 52,172 plays

2 PARALYZER Finger Eleven (Wind-up) 50,803

3 FOREVER Papa Roach (El Tonal/Geffen) 46,853

4 BREATH Breaking Benjamin (Hollywood) 44,255

5 ICKY THUMP The White Stripes (Third Man/Warner Bros.) 42,899

6 FACE DOWN The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (Virgin) 41,823

7 FROM YESTERDAY 30 Seconds To Mars (Immortal/Virgin) 37,852

8 PAIN Three Days Grace (Jive/Zomba) 35,864

9 HEY THERE DELILAH Plain White T’s (Fearless/Hollywood) 35,389

10 SNOW ((HEY OH)) Red Hot Chili Peppers (Warner Bros.) 34,080

Alternative to what-was-that-again?

More 2007 year-end radio play charts.

FCC: More Indie on the Radio

FCC proposal could end payola probe: “Sources said that radio station groups would be required to set aside a certain amount of airtime for music produced independently. […] It was unclear how the airtime deal would work and what would qualify as ‘independently produced’ music, but the sources said that some of the commissioners are concerned about the major labels’ ability to dominate the airwaves.”

Think there’s any chance that this could actually make commecial radio listenable?

Clear Channel Bought Out for $19 Billion

Not sure exactly what this will mean for the future of radio, but Clear Channel was bought out for $19 billion from private equity firms.

Tidbits from Bloomberg:

• “The company also plans to sell 448 of its 1,150 radio stations and all of its 42 television stations.”

• “The company lost more than 60 percent of its market value since 2000…”

• “Now the company plans to sell almost 40 percent of its radio stations. None of those are in the top 100 U.S. markets and the assets represent less than 10 percent of revenue.”

• “The deal leaves current executives in charge of the company, including Mark Mays and his brother Randall Mays, 41, who is chief financial officer.”

• New owners “Lee and Bain have been buyers of media companies before… [They] partnered with Providence to buy Warner Music Group…”

Guessing this is just another “same as the old boss” type of scenario. But who knows?