(By Ronald Robinson) (NOT the PSR Guy)
Our two countries are intrinsically linked because of a combination of geography, a shared primary language, a similarity in many of our basic beliefs and values, and the ease of crossing each other’s borders — most of us Canadians have relatives and friends who are also rightfully proud Americans.
So, it should come as no surprise to thoughtful readers that many of us from the Great White North are shocked and disappointed at the depth to which our friends in radio are allowing the degradation of those (mostly) shared beliefs and values, and the speed at which this disassembly process of our industry is occurring.
This is particularly perplexing for me because, so far as my broadcast and counseling careers are concerned, my most influential teachers, role models, and mentors were all Americans! At the time, this was an insignificant consideration as, practically speaking, the border was no more than a drawn line in the dirt or the middle part of a lake or river. Crossing over was such an easy process.
For about a year, I was pulling PM Drive at an Ontario radio station, and working nights playing drums in my band at a Michigan bar across the ditch. Crossing the border back and forth six nights a week consisted of a slow-down and a wave. (I was too ascared to run grass across the international bridge. Others, not so much.)
And then, there is the situation in which American radio finds itself – off kilter and lurching from one crisis to another – unable to counteract the forces that are (mostly) self induced and, sometimes, provided by outside sources, including arbitrarily debilitating, government decisions. That many of these decisions are supported by vested interests with an entirely self-serving agenda that has no inclusions for the betterment of the quality of products and services rendered by commercial radio is no longer an argument. That is, not an argument that can be won by anyone without access and influence.
Canadian radio is, essentially, run using the same model as American radio. We stole everything decades ago – including all the weird and dumb stuff like crippling the talent-base, tossing the writers out on their ears, and the phusterclucking of the spot load. There is, however, one significant difference: By comparison, American markets are glutted with signals, to the point where the whole dial is stuffed. An example would be in Calgary, a market of 1.5 million and 16 radio stations. The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) with its over 7 million inhabitants has less than 50 English language stations, many of which have only local community coverage.
READ THE REST OF THE COLUMN HERE AT THE RADIO INK WEBSITE
Ronald T. Robinson has been involved in Canadian radio since the ’60s as a performer, writer, and coach, and has trained and certified as a personal counselor. Contact Ron at [email protected]