I can’t take it anymore… by Veteran Radio man John Rook


by John Rook

November the 1st, 2014

For decades radio was known to “mirror” the public taste and needs. At a time when most would agree our world is in dire need of reexamination, it’s also true for radio today.

During radio’s heyday a good programmer understood nothing got on the air without it being both entertaining and creating success for an advertiser. Most of my radio listening is done via internet radio. If you think the programming is lacking on an AM/FM feed, try listening to that same programming delivered via the internet.

In the past it wasn’t uncommon for a station to “dry run” their efforts before ever being on the air. AM or FM, if it was delivering programming to the public, every step was taken to make sure it was “ready for prime time.” At a time when programmers were responsible for all programming, including commercial content and placement, today one must question if a radio station has anyone in charge of programming their internet feed.

Deregulation brought on a new kind of radio, where programming is thrown up against the wall with hopes it might attract an audience. With virtually all programming from a distant source, recently I was advised, “that’s not under my control” by a program director at one of the big three groups.

Last week America’s top rated talk show host on his Los Angeles facility filled the entire show with commercial stop sets programming two units at the exact same time. It was a disaster that lasted for three full hours.

Out of sync automation on all stations have the local announcer being cut off, sloppy redundant placement of units or the same announcer doing dry, boring back to back commercials often five deep in a single break.

The creative juices are not only missing in programming content, but also in the creation of commercials. While the promo’s are good, hearing the same one played back to back in every stop set is an audience killer. Remembering those days we were careful even when programming the #1 song in the nation, it and all music could not be offered more than once every 90 minutes. If a sponsor wanted his message heard more than once an hour, it would require an addition spot or two to rotate. Redundancy is an audience killer.

Dead air, that would have sent any good programmer screaming to either traffic or engineering in the past, is totally ignored. In telephoning the program director of a station asking why every day they repeated the same programming twice in the same three hour period, I was advised it wasn’t his problem, “it all comes from distant points.”

If we can put a man on the moon, with a little bit of encouragement from radio owners digital automation can solve these problems . . . but most of all a full time program director should actually be aware of what’s on the air and not having to hear about it from a retired former programmer in rural Idaho. I have yet to contact a programmer who was aware of what I was hearing on the internet. Almost always it’s an excuse saying they seldom listen to the internet feed of their programming.

Either the basic rules of programming are unknown or the big three operators, having overpaid for the facilities following deregulation, have little desire for their programming to be important on the internet. It’s a shame cause they are about to lose me.

I can’t take it anymore . . .

John’s Website HERE

Facebook Page HERE

About John Rook
In 1967 he was named Director of Programming for WLS-Chicago, where under his leadership the station reached its highest ratings ever, rated #1 with a total audience of 3.8 million weekly. While at WLS, broadcasters nationally named him “Radio’s Man of the Year” and “Program Director of the Year”.In the 1970’s John Rook & Associates provided programming expertise to more than thirty radio stations nationally including WCFL-Chicago; Y-100-Miami; KRBE-Houston; Z-93-Atlanta; KTKT-Tucson and KROY-Sacramento as he was named “Radio Consultant of the Year.”He was also Program Director of KFI Los Angeles and KABC Los Angeles.


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