Radio AM to FM: October 29, 1999
Radio Going Bye Bye?
Shadoe Stevens, former radio programmer/personality and Federated Stereo commercial star Fred Rated, is convinced that you can stick a fork in traditional radio broadcasting -- it's done. He's predicting the death of terrestrial radio as we know it within five years.
"Terrestrial radio has become a dinosaur -- too big, too corporate, too overspecialized, too expensive, too uncreative, unable to break the rigid formats it has created and unable to deliver programming people want," says Stevens, who was scheduled to address a public meeting of the nonprofit group, Internet Professionals earlier this week.
"The current erosion in terrestrial radio's audience and the boom in internet radio are the beginning of the end," Stevens claims.
In its place will be internet radio stations, nimble, super-competitive, relatively inexpensive and global in nature. As one example of such a web station, Stevens points to his own Rhythm Radio, located at www.rhythmradio.com, that offers "a blend of different kinds of music and production that would make most terrestrial radios explode.
An interesting theory, even if its wrong. Here's the problem: most radio listening occurs in the car. And most cars don't (and most likely won't in five years either) have internet connections. Additionally, the technology for reliably giving more than a handful of listeners at a time a chance to hear a particular web station is still years off. Plus, the web can not come close yet to the fidelity of traditional broadcasting, let alone the new digital standard that will be in place within five years.
As much as I'd like to stick it to the big companies that are screwing up our local airwaves through their total monopolies and control of OUR airwaves, I just don't see it happening soon. And it most likely won't be through the internet.
Quote of the Week
In the press release relating the above story, it was printed that Stevens created "Album-Oriented Rock as "the visionary" KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) Gee, I thought it was Al Gore who did that.
Apparently Stevens forgot about Tom Donahue, who is credited by most with inventing what in 1967 was called "Progressive Rock" on KPPC, later to become KROQ (106.7 FM). He moved to KMET as programmer in 1968, six years before Stevens arrived.
Not to take away Stevens' accomplishments: he programmed album rock on AM at KRLA (1110 AM) in 1970 and helped launch the alternative format on KROQ in 1977. He also hosted American Top 40 for a time after Casey Kasem left the popular program, and is currently a big-name announcer for television programs.
But the inventor of Album Oriented Rock? Al Gore's recent claim to be the inventor of the internet is easier to swallow.
The soul oldies simulcast of KACE (103.9 FM) and KRTO (98.3 FM) is going away soon, as the stations have been bought by Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation for $75 million. Cash.
Hispanic Broadcasting is the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the United States; the purchase of KACE/KRTO from Cox Broadcasting leaves Los Angeles without a Cox-owned station for the first time in what must be decades. It also leaves KJLH (102.3 FM) as the only radio station in Los Angeles catering to a primarily black audience.
Too bad, too, as KACE was a station with a fantastic, yet totally underappreciated lineup of personalities that played "dusties" that you won't hear on any other station in Southern California. I'm going to miss it. And them.
Copyright © 1999 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.
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