radio was great when there was one owner per station
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Thread: radio was great when there was one owner per station

  1. #1
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    radio was great when there was one owner per station

    Back in the 50's, 60's and 70''s, when station's had one owner, it made for great radio. Storer had WIBBAGE, Annenberg WFIL, Russ Craft WRCP, Dolly Banks WHAT AM/FM, Max Leon WDAS AM/FM, Metromedia WIP AM/FM, WPEN Penn Broadcasting and on and on. This led to radio wars, stations fought for the audience, trying to out-do the others, and the listener won out with variety and great music. Then the almighty FCC and the Democratic politicians, created this rule that companies can own many stations. From reading all your posts, this station can't flip to this format to protect their other property, this station cannot go against this one, this one can't play anything that their sister is playing, this one adjusted its format so this other station they don't own won't get higher ratings so their cash cow can stay on top, this leads to bland repetitious radio, I think every station should have one owner, let the radio wars begin, this would stimulate both the AM and FM bands. Their may be three More type formats, each one trying to sound better, another Classic Hits station a Hip Hop, Alternative, Country, who knows what identical formats might pop up. Competition makes and always made great radio years ago, and probably still holds true today, but it might be too late.
    Last edited by Gunsmoke; 09-05-2018 at 09:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Gunsmoke View Post
    Then the almighty FCC and the Democratic politicians, created this rule that companies can own many stations.
    Just to clarify, the rule you're talking about was pretty unanimous from both parties. Only one Republican voted against it: John McCain. The 1996 Act was initially part of Newt Gingrich's Contract With America. Deregulating telecom was primarily about the phone companies, not radio stations. As you can see, we now have basically three phone companies. At one time, there was over a dozen.

  3. #3

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    The clock isn't going to be turned back. On Earth 2, where consolidation never happened, people are on online forums complaining about short playlists, lack of local DJs and small business owners who are Republicans airing Rush Limbaugh

  4. #4
    If you went to one station per owner, you'd immediately see a dozen stations go off the air. Its not 1986 any longer, and reverting regulations to their 1986 state would not restore the broadcasters of 1986.
    "Its music what makes a radio station, and at Live FM, we play the last music around."
    After receiving that copy, I quit the VO industry.

  5. #5

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    I agree that radio seemed much more exciting when I was younger. A very unusual thing happened to me. While my family drove from Kansas City to Nashville for Christmas, I was glued to the radio, specifically WKDA once we got to Nashville. About 35 years later I got to hear an aircheck of WKDA on the very night at the very time I was listening. I was blown away that I was hearing what I listened to while it happened so many years prior. I was more blown away at how it sounded compared to how exciting I recall it sounding on the night I heard it live. After being in radio about 25 years by then, the station sounded sloppy, seat of the pants and not that great at all. The spots were bland. The DJ wasn't that great. To put it bluntly, I was underwhelmed. In all honesty, I was so impressed that night so many years ago, I pulled out a notebook and made notes on what I heard to practice on my part 15 station.

    There is much I can say about radio today, words you might prefer not hear. I'm sure those will follow. So let's just say, it was an exciting time enjoying radio then. I loved it. To hear it today, we might not find it was as great as we remember and we might be surprised to learn how many stations were just a few dollars away from the electricity being turned off. We might be surprised to know there is more variety on today's dial. Yes, there is less competition but certainly more defined sub-formats that evolved from the general formats of the past. For me, it is not that exciting but that era has passed as radio evolved with changing listening habits.

    I was fortunate to have lived where I could hear WHB in Kansas City during it's heyday as well as being in Dallas to hear KLIF while it dominated (and McClendon's KNUS 99 after he sold KLIF).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunsmoke View Post
    Back in the 50's, 60's and 70''s, when station's had one owner, it made for great radio. Storer had WIBBAGE, Annenberg WFIL, Russ Craft WRCP, Dolly Banks WHAT AM/FM, Max Leon WDAS AM/FM, Metromedia WIP AM/FM, WPEN Penn Broadcasting and on and on. This led to radio wars, stations fought for the audience, trying to out-do the others, and the listener won out with variety and great music. Then the almighty FCC and the Democratic politicians, created this rule that companies can own many stations. From reading all your posts, this station can't flip to this format to protect their other property, this station cannot go against this one, this one can't play anything that their sister is playing, this one adjusted its format so this other station they don't own won't get higher ratings so their cash cow can stay on top, this leads to bland repetitious radio, I think every station should have one owner, let the radio wars begin, this would stimulate both the AM and FM bands. Their may be three More type formats, each one trying to sound better, another Classic Hits station a Hip Hop, Alternative, Country, who knows what identical formats might pop up. Competition makes and always made great radio years ago, and probably still holds true today, but it might be too late.
    You have your timeline, facts and, thus, conclusion just about 100% wrong.

    The era of Wibbage and the others was really the late 50's to the earliest part of the 70's.

    Let's see the landscape in the middle of that time: Ratings were done by Pulse and Hooper, and covered only the central city of a metro... the area you could call toll free. The only real competitors were AMs, and there were just a few of those that could compete. 560, 610, 990. 950, 1060, 1210, and marginally 1340, 1540 and 1480.

    Then comes the 70's. FM was, by force of the FCC's 1967 restriction of simulcasting, suddenly offering a new variety of options. From 6 reasonably good signals, the market went to about triple the number of major contenders with decent signals. Yet revenue did not grow by a factor of 300%. Many more stations, same money split more ways.

    Arbitron took over as the ratings provider of choice. They surveyed multi-county metros, not the core area of a metro. The directional AMs, from WIBG to WRCP, were severely hurt as they did not cover the whole metro. The low power ones, like 1340 and 1480 just did not cover it all.

    Skip ahead to the end of the 80's when the FCC, under a misguided belief that more was better in serving the public, added many new station allocations and allowed formerly difficult upgrades and move-ins. The landscape became more littered with stations. Again, no proportional increase in revenue. The shares were smaller, the rates lower and the competition many times that of the 60's.

    By the early 80's, various studies showed that half of all US radio stations were not profitable. The solution was to allow multiple stations to operate together in clusters.

    As to competition in formats, let's look at a market I studied, Cleveland. In 1960, no FM got ratings. There were 3 Top 40 stations, 3 MOR stations and 2 r&b stations. Three formats in a major, major market. Nobody picked secondary formats because they could not "win" with a lower share... so they went for the big three options. Yet today, with clusters, groups can combine stations for sales to deliver packages of listeners that meet advertiser needs. So many second tier formats are preserved and they flourish as they don't have to stand alone.

    I built a cluster of, at the top, 9 stations including 4 AMs and 5 FMs in the late 60's. Because I had three of the top 5 stations I could afford to do the first FM in the market, followed by a classical FM. Neither of those FMs began making money, but were sustained by the AMs. I had multiple second tier formats that made money, but only because they only minimally increased administrative costs. The market benefited with options that could never have been done on a stand-alone.

    As has been posted, you'd have fewer options and poorer programming today if every station had a single owner.
    Last edited by DavidEduardo; 09-06-2018 at 04:42 AM.
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  7. #7
    We’re just going to pretend nothing else has changed in the intervening decades. Not technology, not economics, not culture...just the lifting of an arbitrary and artificial limit on free trade. Got it. That’s the factor.

    Also, stations, not station’s.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbrahamJSimpson View Post
    We’re just going to pretend nothing else has changed in the intervening decades. Not technology, not economics, not culture...just the lifting of an arbitrary and artificial limit on free trade. Got it. That’s the factor.

    Also, stations, not station’s.
    It's the Democrats. Duh. (BTW: How long do we have to put up with this bullshit? Shouldn't we maybe just stop engaging? At least with Jul, it's mildly amusing.)

  9. #9
    Itís the Democrats....of course.

    Whatís a bit amusing is that allowing companies to own more stations is more consistent with stated conservative economic theories. Itís not completely free market, but closer on the spectrum than the prior cap the OP seems to wish to reinstate. As rightly noted already, there was bipartisan agreement on the move to loosen those caps. Yet the OP ignores those facts.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbrahamJSimpson View Post
    It’s the Democrats....of course.

    What’s a bit amusing is that allowing companies to own more stations is more consistent with stated conservative economic theories. It’s not completely free market, but closer on the spectrum than the prior cap the OP seems to wish to reinstate. As rightly noted already, there was bipartisan agreement on the move to loosen those caps. Yet the OP ignores those facts.
    #FakeNews LOL

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