Radio, Don’t Blow Your Chance to Matter Again (Guest Column)


Radio, I’ve just about had enough of you and your abandonment of your defining purpose as broadcasters. 
With the coronavirus pandemic now ravaging everyday life and suspending every reliable comfort from work routines to sports and entertainment or actual human contact, we’re looking for steadiness somewhere — an echo of the familiar, a kindred connection.  Anything to tether us to something recognizable. A service the radio dial used to provide — and public radio still does.Based on the events of the last few days in Los Angeles, market No. 2 with a 60-plus year history of rich and vibrant local broadcasting excellence, it appears there is little wisdom or vision left. Case in point: the vast audience disconnect in Entercom’s abrupt and confusing decision at KROQ-FM to fire morning show personality Kevin Ryder on Wednesday, someone who is a heritage voice in L.A. with a long local history as half of the “Kevin & Bean Show,” a well-loved talent who had just launched the freshly-formed team “Kevin in the Morning With Allie & Jensen” this past January (in the wake of longtime partner Gene “Bean” Baxter’s retirement last year).  But instead of capitalizing on that position of strength, using this particular anchor as a steady ship for the approaching tidal wave of pandemic upheavals, KROQ chooses to obliterate a main source of humor and comfort from its airwaves right at a moment when the attending audience needs stability more than ever.

A baffling move in timing and method, this decision by Entercom demonstrates a stunning lack of understanding about how people actually use radio: as a companion. How could you forget your primary function? KROQ didn’t just blow up a show. The station’s owner annihilated any trust with the remaining audience tuning in.

Yes, we get it Radio, you’ve all had to deal with the disruption of a digital revolution (just as the rest of the music industry has). We even looked the other way while you justified with straight faces, your slow arrival to every important new artist on the horizon in the last eighteen months, simply because they came from streaming — a dynamic that only exists, by the way, because Radio willingly gave up that position and drove away all the active, tastemaker listeners, due to an over-reliance on call-out and other passive research for far too many years.

And because we understand the foundational business aspects of broadcasting, where advertising continues as the main source of revenue, we could even grasp the big-picture rationalization behind pivoting away from the core 12-24 demos (the predominant music consumers based on every study) to focus on whose actually listening now — people above 35, audiences who grew up in a time when FM was exceedingly relevant.

But you have completely forgotten why the audience used to care.

Read more  HERE.


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