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Sunday, June 20, 2010

WASN'T MY GENERATION SUPPOSED TO CHANGE RADIO FOR THE BETTER?

Once again, I've decided to travel back into time to my SMSU days. I've been reflective lately on all the hope and promise of those days that has been largely stomped on the repressive Ozarks culture.

Let's look at one facet of my media career, which is radio. As a media major, I studied newspaper, radio and television. I had a particular interest in radio. Part of this came from the simple fact that i was always interested in improving the local radio scene. I used to do some DXing late at night as a kid and I felt that many of the local radio station needed to be more like the major market stations. It was my destiny to try to change things around here, especially KWLT FM 92 and KJEL in Lebanon.

Another thing that energized my interest in radio, was an article in Rolling Stone about college radio was becoming a big influence in the music world. Rolling Stone and Billboard both had college rock charts. According to Rolling Stone, the young people in college radio were going to revitalize radio with their creativity and free-form programming.

The only radio stations in Springfield offering internships were KTTS, KTXR and KSMU. Rumor has it one of the rock stations in town stopped offering internships because they didn't want any college kids telling people about rampant cocaine use by the staff. I took an internship at KSMU, because they allowed students to program their own music on the Midnight Snack show. I used to listen to the Midnight Snack in Lebanon. It was there that I first fell in love with the Sex Pistols, Ramones and the various paisley underground bands.

College radio eventually beat mainstream radio to probably the greatest band of the 90's, Nirvana. Springfield even had a radio station playing college rock, Z105 the Planet. Yes, it looked liked my generation (now dubbed Generation X by the press). SO WHAT HAPPENED???

Several factors played into our lack of power in 2010. The major explanation goes back to the Telecom Act of 1996, which opened the door for the large radio corporations like Clear Channel, Cumulus, Journal and Citadel. Here is hoping the FCC reverses all this consolidation soon. With consolidation, most creative program directors lost their power in favor on PD for the whole country. Sadly, most of these companies adapted the attitude that "only country and talk are profitable in the post 9-11 society" and many alternative station were changed to something else. So then, why has radio lost so much money and listeners in the past few years? Could it be you are driving away listeners with that talk and country garbage?

A major problem that isn't talked about is the animosity and resistance faced us Generation X-college-radio-trained-talent from an element of white-conservative-Baby Boomers, who were in management, not just in radio but other media. These balding, fat middle aged guys wanted to keep us out of the industry. They also did like the changes we wanted to make. A Rolling Stone article once gave a name to a name to a notorious alternative rock radio destroyer, Randy Michaels of Jacor. I should also point out that Jacor (later engulfed by Clear Channel) owned the Premier Radio, which produces such garbage as Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura and Delilah. Do you see a pattern here?

However, there is a nostalgia for the college radio era and it's music. A friend of mine works at a book and music store. He has noticed people in their 40s buying the "college rock" of the 80s and 90s. Two blogs, Spinning Indie and Slicing Eyeballs, discuss both old and new college rock.

There is hope that there could be a turn around in the radio industry and us Generation X college radio slackers will save the industry from the suit wearing, Rush lovers in the big corporations. We are radio's only hope.

Of course, opinions like these are why I'm considered Super Villain of the Ozarks!!! Mwu-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

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