Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kent Kotal: More On Radio (And, In SOME Cases, Moron Radio!!!)

Over the past ten years we've recorded COUNTLESS commentaries on the current state of radio ... some times more "biting" than others ... but ALWAYS with the intention to CHALLENGE and MOTIVATE today's oldies programmers to "take the blinders off" and look beyond those same 200-300 songs that every other station in the country is playing. If one were to ask me, "Is Oldies Radio Better TODAY than it was ten years ago when Forgotten Hits first began", I would have to answer "Yes" ... and, hopefully, we've helped to play at least SOME small role in that.

Radio has expanded through much more free-form programming thanks to the Internet ... and now, with Wi-Fi Radio as the next big step (we've watched the rise ... and fall ... of satellite radio during these past ten years, too!), we are encouraged that things are only going to get better.

As more and more terrestrial stations throw in the towel, the field is widening for those radio entrepenaurs willing to give their listening audience just a little more credit ... yes, we really CAN digest more than those same "tried and true" oldies ... and yes, we really DO remember MANY more songs from our youth. If you will INTELLIGENTLY present them to us (without all the "adult diaper" / "erectile dysfunction" / "incontinence" ads), we WILL listen!!!

In fact, OUR demographic ... those aged 45-65 ... is now the LARGEST radio demographic out there ... with the most disposable income ... despite the fact that "conventional" radio has chosen to ignore us for years. (Hell, they wrote us off AGES ago ... and now many of the folks in charge have NO clue as to what we're all about ... how to reach us ... or what we REALLY want in a radio station.)
History has shown that in tough economic times, radio has ALWAYS been a salvation ... it's "free" entertainment that can be enjoyed at home ... but we've squeezed and syphoned all the personality out of radio for SO long now by introducing more and more automation that the CONNECTION an audience used to make with those on the air that we listened to has all but disappeared. The "art" of radio is gone.

And this narrow-minded, tunnel-vision method of programming is finally coming around to bite them in the ass ... as more and more listeners are turning off their car radios in search of other avenues of entertainment. We've been warning those who'd listen to us for a decade now ... and we've grown by leaps and bounds thanks to commentary and insight from many of the jocks on the list who have dedicated and devoted their entire lives and careers to making radio fun. (Of course, MOST of these guys are unemployed right now ... so they've had all kinds of extra time to participate with us!!! lol Sad ... but true.)

In fact, literally MINUTES after we posted our most recent "On The Radio" Segment (sermon?) last weekend, Citadel filed for bankruptcy, a topic not lost on many of our readers. Here ... in our final Radio Address To The Nation of the Year ... are a few more comments that we've received ... radio-related ... in the past few days:

Well, it's official ... this announcement came in just a few short minutes after last week's Sunday Comments went out ... I can't say that anyone was too surprised by this (and it almost sounds like a formality step in their reorganization) ... but quite a few of you found it interesting that this announcement came just days after Citadel moved Scott Shannon to the VP of Programming spot! (Rest assured, Scott'll be just fine!) kk

1:40 PM ET Sunday, December 20, 2009
It's official - Citadel files for pre-arranged bankruptcy
Citadel Broadcasting lists assets of $1.4 billion and debt of $2.5 billion in a filing that came today (Sunday, December 20). Its largest unsecured creditors (according to Bloomberg) are JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wilmington Trust ($49.2 million) and the Walt Disney Company ($11.2 million). Backer Forstmann Little holds 29% of Citadel's common stock, and Chairman / CEO Farid Suleman about 3%. Citadel was facing an impossible deadline on January 15, 2010 to have a large amount of cash on hand. Friday morning's T-R-I Newsletter predicted that a filing was imminent and reported that Suleman had succeeded in winning support from more than 50% of the money behind the company. The Wall Street Journal reports that Citadel would emerge from the pre-arranged filing with debt of about $762 million. Suleman will likely continue leading Citadel, post-bankruptcy. More of the continuing coverage of Citadel online now at


TIMING LIKE MINE? SCOTT SHANNON GOES "NATIONAL" WITH THE BIG-MARKET CITADEL STATIONS, AS VP / PROGRAMMING ... CITADEL just filed for bankrupcy protection ... I predict they'll survive ... (gary) RENFIELD
Citadel Broadcasting Files for Bankruptcy Protection (Update1) - Bloomberg.com

Kent ...
Did you hear this story ?

Frank B.
Again, trust me, Scott'll do just fine. There was virtually NO surprise in this announcement at all ... it was only a matter of time before they'd announce it. (OK, maybe there was just a LITTLE surprise that it happened on a SUNDAY!!! lol) But this was one of those "worst-kept secrets" you hear about from time to time. (kk)

And, a day after Citadel filed for bankruptcy, so did Next Media!!! Our whole radio world is changing!

Like Citadel, this is a debt-for-equity exchange, though the first-lien debt and general unsecured creditors will be paid in full. The creditors in line behind them will have their debt converted into 95% of the equity in radio-and-outdoor firm NextMedia. The company will emerge from the plan with debt of about $128 million. It operates radio stations in the Carolinas, Texas, California, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and the area around Chicago. Unlike Citadel Broadcasting, NextMedia is privately-held, though it once tried to go public through an initial public offering. More now at Radio-Info.com.



::sigh::: Remember when Chicago radio was the best thing ever?
If only they knew -- for real -- how truly stupid it is now ...
Did you happen to watch the Johnny B. video??? Pretty funny stuff ... and right on the money as far as the current thinking on programming. (kk)
Yes I did ... too bad it won't have one bit of effect on anything. :(

I THOUGHT I heard Scott's voice doing bumpers and spots for KLOS (I listen online here in FL) ...
Scott Levison
Pinellas Park, FL
Scott's been HUGE in Florida for quite a while now ... in fact, next to our Chicagoland readers, Florida is OUR second biggest market for Forgotten Hits, too ... they seem to REALLY love their oldies down there!!! (kk)

I hope to get this to you in plenty of time. My show "The Pop Shoppe" on www.topshelfoldies.com
Fridays from 7 PM till 3:01 AM

On Friday January 1 (New Years Day) I will have two special country segments besides my assorted oldies.
At 9 PM, I will be interviewing Diane Diekman, who has written a book about Faron Young. She is also working on a book on Marty Robbins. This should prove to be something not to miss.
At 12 AM I will be doing a tribute to the late and great Hank Williams on my "Midnight Country" portion of my show. Don't miss this special evening as we start off the New Year.
The Pop Shoppe has been on the Internet on topshelfoldies for 8 years.
Stu Weiss / DJ Stu
Got this posted with plenty of notice ... thanks, Stu!
Diane has been participating with us here in Forgotten Hits recently, too ... and just wrote a very nice "overview" of the career of Marty Robbins. (In fact, we featured a few of Marty's biggest hits on our web page a short while back ... you can find them here, along with some of Diane's commentary.) Thanks! (kk)
Click here: Forgotten Hits: MARTY ROBBINS

Just so your listeners / readers know, Uncle Ricky will be playing the replay aircheck of the Big 89 of 1969 on its' 40th Anniversary Year on New Years Day! It's eight hours of great music and the DJs we grew up with and loved! The New Colony Six are well represented, too. IF they play the Art Roberts hour leading up to the countdown (and I believe after the show, too), you'll hear my fave "Barbara, I love You" and the NC6 are IN the countdown and a greeting from Ronnie Rice himself around #20 in the countdown!! The Big 89 forever!!
Also, Christmas brings us Holiday jingle Samplers, Cousin Brucie Christmas and WNBC Christmas shows!!
Check it out at: http://www.reelradio.com/

Linda November and Artie Schroeck are on my next radio interview show!
Some of you may look at these two names and say "who are they"?
Linda November and Artie Schroeck may not be household names but they are two of the most respected people in the music business. And almost everyone on the planet is familiar with some of their work even if they are not familiar with their names. Hopefully this show will give these two "class acts" -- who also happen to be wife and husband -- some well-deserved long-overdue public recognition.

This super-sized show -- 80 minutes -- covers a lot of ground but it barely scratches the surface in conveying the extent of what these two have accomplished. I may suggest to them that we do a second show or even a mini-series some time in the future!

Linda has recorded 22,000 advertising jingles and was the "Meow Meow Meow Meow" cat on the legendary Meow Mix commercial. She portayed that singing cat for a whopping 17 years! Her portfolio includes almost all of the most famous brands in the world. She personally compiled for me a top 25 list of her most popular commercials and performs each of them LIVE during this show. But that's only a part of her story. Linda's sung on dozens of hit records. We sample some of them during the show including "Love Me With All Your Heart" (she was a Ray Charles singer!), "The World We Knew" (she was the solo soprano voice singing underneath Frank Sinatra), "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" ("wo-wo-ing" with Valerie Simpson on the Dionne Warwick smash), "After The Lovin'" by Englebert Humperdinck, "Stoney End" by Barbra Streisand and a legendary disco hit called "Baby Face" by the Wing and a Prayer Fife and Drum Corps in which her voice was the main one heard. And she was one of the anonymous studio voices of Dawn (along with Tony Orlando) on their first two smash hits "Candida" and "Knock Three Times." [Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent, who shortly thereafter became the "official" Dawn and toured with Tony, were not on those above two hits.]

Artie has written songs and arrangements for a veritable "Who's Who" of the top names in the business. Just to name a few: Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Neil Diamond, Liza Minnelli, Petula Clark, Sammy Davis Jr., Barry Manilow and the Cowsills. He was the co-writer of one of the most admired Frank Sinatra songs entitled "Here's To The Band." Possibly Artie's most famous arrangement was also his most commercially successful. It's an artist that I have yet to mention. Artie arranged "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" for Frankie Valli and did other arrangements for the Four Seasons as well.This interview show is chock full of fun and surprises. It was such a joy doing it.

Oh, one other thing before I list the tracks. This was the first interview that I did using "Skype." I was able to see Linda and Artie on my computer monitor while I was talking to them! For me it had the feel of being an "in-studio" interview.

Following are the tracks on the show in sequence. Most of the "excerpts" (except the "Meow Mix" opening excerpt) are about a minute long. Those listed as "edits" contain more than half of the recording.

1 OPENING: "Meow Mix" commercial (excerpt) followed by "Studio Singer" (excerpt) -- Linda November
2 Nanny, Nanny, It's Time For My Fix! -- Linda November [don't ask!]
3 The World We Knew -- Frank Sinatra (excerpt)
4 Love Me With All Your Heart -- The Ray Charles Singers (excerpt)
5 Candida -- Dawn (excerpt)
6 Knock Three Times -- Dawn (excerpt)
7 Here's To The Band -- Frank Sinatra (edit)
8 To Keep My Love Alive -- Linda November [a dark humor hilarity written by Rodgers and Hart]
9 Not Getting Married Today -- Linda November (edit) [she sings this Stephen Sondheim song from "Company" at about 200 M.P.H.!]
10 Teach Me Tonight -- Liza Minnelli (edit)
11 Can't Take My Eyes Off You -- Frankie Valli
12 We Can Fly -- The Cowsills (excerpt)
13 Do You Know The Way To San Jose (excerpt)
14 After The Lovin' -- Engelbert Humperdinck (excerpt)
15 Stoney End -- Barbra Streisand (excerpt)
16 Baby Face -- The Wing and a Prayer Fife and Drum Corps (excerpt)'
17 "Meow Mix" commercial
18 Come Fly With Me -- Linda November and Artie Schroeck

Notes: #1, #2, #8 and #9 were recorded at a live performance in NYC on May 8, 1987 entitled "November In May" #18 was recorded at a "Suncoast" live performance in January, 2008

To access this Linda November and Artie Schroeck radio interview show or any of my previous ones, please visit the "Jersey Girls Sing" website at http://www.jerseygirlssing.com

When that home page comes up, please click the "Ronnie Allen Theater" (the name has a yellow background) in the picture on the right-hand side. That will bring you to my index page. Please click on "Ronnie's Radio Page" and you will then be able to access the show (it's the first one listed under the blue heading "Current Radio Interview Shows") or any of my previous ones, which are listed in reverse chronological order.
Ronnie Allen

Milwaukee – The label on 95.7 is once again “Oldies”, with Clear Channel ditching WRIT’s “My 95.7” approach for a plain-spoken “Oldies 95.7.” The station’s been classic hits and now is adjusting by leaning on the 1960s and 1970s. New slogan – “Milwaukee’s only oldies station.” The Wisconsin Board is talking “oldies” now.

Vince Martell, lead guitarist of late-60's psychedelic rock group Vanilla Fudge, is scheduled to be my guest on "Legends" on Tuesday, Dec. 29. The two-hour show runs from 9-11 p.m. Eastern Time on Vinyl Dynasty, part of the live365.com group. Vinny should be appearing sometime after 10 o'clock. To tune in, click
Online Rock Radio Station - Live365 Internet Radio - Vinyl Dynasty
Tim Jensen

Kent -
We've been hearing for months and months now that Hit Parade Radio has hired Larry Lujack but when I go online all I hear is music. Apparently per your blog the format will change during the 1st quarter of 2010. Please please please let us know when Uncle Lar will start broadcasting and at what times of the day, too. Frankly speaking, there are thousands of internet oldies stations out there, and most of them seem to be playing a lot of the same boring music. Hit Parade Radio runs the risk of just becoming another one of them ... however, adding Lujack and Martindale should change that.
Steve Davidson
Whenever I've tuned in, I've heard drop-ins by both Martindale and Lujack ... but as more of a "promo / sampling" nature about what's coming up rather than as an actual radio broadcast ... the purpose here is to let folks know about the new station and what kind of music they can expect to hear.

Internet Radio has been able to offer more variety in programming because most of these stations are independently owned and operated ... heck, SOME of these guys are literally broadcasting out of their bedrooms!!! ... and this new-found freedom and expansion has benefited the oldies music fan in that we get to hear something OTHER than the same old, same old typically being broadcast by terrestrial radio today.

Let's face it ... a few short years ago, a number of major conventional radio markets had already given up on the oldies format ... thanks to guys like Scott Shannon and The True Oldies Channel, nearly 100 cities are now enjoying their oldies again ... but it's tough to program a station like that for "mass-market" listeners, especially when you've got people to answer to ... certain "concessions have to be made.

Here in Chicago, for example, Shannon's only on a limited number of hours each week, despite the fact that HIS ratings are the highest the station experiences. Local programming cuts into the majority of the week day waking hours and now even the weekends are being eaten up by programs WLS-FM has chosen to air other than Scott Shannon's 24/7 broadcast. (This makes it ESPECIALLY tough for me as a listener ... I've got another Forgotten Hits / True Oldies Channel Weekend coming up and will miss better than half of it thanks to these local "cut-aways" unless I dedicate myself to listening online ... a difficult thing to do when you're doing your normal weekend's worth of running around!)

John Rook and Hit Parade Radio are running into some of the same obstacles. By trying to reach an audience both on the Internet and Wi-Fi ... as well as securing a stable of AM and FM radio stations across the country ... he's had to compromise some of HIS programming ideas in an effort to please the "majority".

But John has taken an aggressive approach to programming his station. Whereas MOST oldies stations have a library of about 250 - 300 songs ... and even some of the BEST ones top out right around 750 - 800 titles ... Hit Parade Radio is programming over 3000 oldies ... in theory, they wouldn't have to repeat a single song all week long ... and it's been that CONSTANT repetition that has driven even some of the most die-hard oldies fans away from conventional radio.

True, it has taken much longer than ANYONE anticipated getting things up and running ... but before we let our patience get the better of us, let's keep things in perspective:

In this economic climate, when companies in all walks of life are closing their doors left and right ... and MAJOR radio corporations are filing bankruptcy and shutting down stations ... starting and marketing a brand new radio venture HAS to be considered more than just a little bit risky ... some might even say crazy.

But what Rook and Lujack and Martindale bring to the table is close to 150 years of accumulative experience behind them of when radio was done right ... a proven track record ... and they're going after a target audience demographic that has been largely ignored by conventional radio for far too long.

Think THAT isn't an obstacle??? It HAS to be, especially when trying to sell the idea to some executives that probably weren't even born yet during this radio hey-day ... and there have also been any number of unexpected set-backs along the way, too ... but despite it all, they've persevered ... and are as anxious to bring this format to the listeners as WE are to hear something fresh and exciting again.

Believe me when I say that we're ALL anxiously waiting to hear Larry Lujack on the air again. But will we ever hear Lujack doing a regular radio program on Hit Parade Radio? I'm not so sure we will ... not in the traditional four or five hour weekday morning stint anyway. Keep in mind that Hit Parade Radio will be syndicated around the country. If Larry WAS going to do a 5 am show (and, at this stage of his career, I personally can't even IMAGINE that Lujack would want to get up early enough to do a 5 am show every morning anymore, although he DID do that here in Chi-Town as part of the short-lived "Real Oldies" venture), WHICH 5 am would you be talking about? 5 am East Coast Time? 5 am West Coast Time? These are factors that the average listener doesn't even take into consideration.

A far BETTER strategy might be to sprinkle both Larry Lujack and Wink Martindale in small vignettes throughout the whole day ... that way they'd be available 24 / 7 ... whenever people tune in, meaning that you'll be likely to catch SOMETHING featuring these two "flagship" guys on the station no matter WHEN you turned on Hit Parade Radio. True, this falls back into more of the same "syndication / automation" syndrome that we keep harping about ... and we truly do miss the "live" spontaneity that a REAL radio broadcast has to offer ... but at least INITIALLY this set up would allow their talents to be far better utilized by spreading them out throughout the day, a marketing strategy that should serve Hit Parade Radio well during the initial phase of reaching listeners worldwide.

Perhaps eventually things will settle into more of a format that would allow Wink or Larry to do a four-hour show at a set time period every day ... "appointment radio" if you will ... but moving forward with the current goal of getting everything up and running by the first quarter of 2010, Priority One for the Powers That Be is to make Hit Parade Radio available not only through their current Internet and Wi-Fi connections, but ALSO on a selection of local AM and FM radio stations across the country in the very near future as well ... and the recent addition of Liz Doyle, a long-time affiliates executive with Citadel, should help make this transition much more likely.

Honestly, the timing really couldn't be any better ... since radio adopted the People Meter as a means to more accurately measure listenership, ratings are showing big gains for “oldie” radio recently ... all positive signs that a very viable market still exists for this music and this listening audience. (Better still is the fact that we are CONSTANTLY encouraged by the number of YOUNG folks discovering this great music that we all grew up with!)

John Rook brought up another very interesting programming point in this regard during the holidays ... definitely some "food for thought" regarding what really "fits" on the radio today when it comes to oldies music ... we recently found THIS piece of wisdom posted on his website:

With the holidays once again upon us, music radio has begun to discover the recording artists they neglect all year long. Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, the Carpenters, Brenda Lee, Andy Williams and dozens of others suddenly “fit,” when played right along with a steady diet of rock performers. Who can argue that any artist is better known than Elvis Presley, with an estate that rakes in more than one hundred million dollars annually, thirty years after his death. Yet, even with dozens of chart toppers over a thirty year span, most “oldies” stations today struggle to program more than two or three of his hits. It was described as “Top Forty,” but the format that reinvented radio during Elvis’ early career would better have been termed as “variety.” Much of the success of music radio in those days came from the tremendous amount of musical variety presented by on-air talent who introduced the artist with believable enthusiasm. Like the commercial product they sold, they did so with the music also. Right along with the rock of Elvis, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard and Chubby Checker, were the hits of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Patti Page, Percy Faith, Perez Prado and even foreign language chart toppers from Italy’s Domenico Modugno to Japan’s Kyu Sakamoto. Folk and country artist were included as were novelty hits like Monster Mash and Mr. Custer. Music excitement glued listeners to the radio, something that rarely takes place today when the programming of just a few hundred songs at the most is the norm. 'Tis said that history repeats itself. With that in mind, Hit Parade Radio is being created featuring as many as 3,000 hit songs, with hundreds of hit makers of the past largely forgotten by radio given new life. The format expected to debut on your local radio station in the first quarter of 2010 will be music intensive, exactly what most listeners to music radio expect. Among the on-air talent will be the Radio Hall of Fame’s, SuperJock Larry Lujack and the award winning, Hollywood Walk of Fame Inductee Wink Martindale. For more information or sample it now at: www.HitParadeRadio.com
-- John Rook

We wish him continued success in bringing this station to the people and providing a chance to hear some music that has been absent from the radio airwaves for decades now. No, you won't hear a lot of "hard rock" on Hit Parade Radio ... there are already plenty of other stations for that if this is what you're looking for.

What you WILL hear is music by artists who CONSISTENTLY found themselves on The Hit Parade Charts. Instead of the same two or three Elvis songs, you'll hear as many as 30 or 35 OTHER hits by The King. Instead of hearing "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee for ten days at Christmastime and then nothing else by Little Miss Dynamite for the rest of the year, you'll hear some of her 20+ Top Twenty Hits played in regular rotation. No radio station will EVER please everyone ... but I think this is a step in the right direction to offer some alternative programming and still stay within the oldies genre. Let's face it ... many of us are button-pushers anyway ... we've conditioned ourselves to seeing "what else is on" rather than listening to what IS on ... because much of what HAS been on is simply more of the same. Hit Parade Radio will give you a chance to hear some music you just haven't heard in a long, long time. We'll keep you posted as things develop. (kk)

Meanwhile, one final word of encouragement from John ...
Thank you, Kent, for your encouragement and the great job you and your contributors do in keeping interests alive for those Forgotten Hits ... that shouldn’t be. And thank you for sharing the memories of radio when.
-- John Rook

Meanwhile, our FH Radio Buddy Rich Appel makes an interesting analogy in this month's edition of his "Hz So Good" online music newsletter regarding the "Radio With Blinders On" mentality we've been experiencing these past several decades. (I'm reading Rich's new "Book Of Days - The '70's" right now, by the way! You'll find it available EXCLUSIVELY at Barnes and Noble.) Unfortunately, talking about the mistakes radio has made these past 25 years is a bit like closing the barn door after the cow's already gotten away, I'm afraid ... but this is still some pretty insightful thinking. (kk)

As we stand on the cusp of 2010, I’d like to, for a moment, go back to 1960 for something that I feel everyone in radio should be aware of. I’m not referring to Elvis Presley coming back or payola – for radio, the good and bad of 1960, respectively – but rather, Theodore Levitt’s groundbreaking paper Marketing Myopia, which first appeared in the Harvard Business Review that year. Anyone who’s taken college marketing courses has read Marketing Myopia, the title of which refers to the shortsightedness of a business when determining what business it’s in. The often-cited example is if companies who made buggy whips in the early 1900s had had the foresight to see a day when horses would be replaced by horsepower engines, thereby seeing themselves in the far-reaching “transportation business.” The original radio networks were therefore ahead of the curve, thanks to guys like David Sarnoff and Bill Paley, who easily brought NBC and CBS into the television age. Did the networks see themselves in the “radio business” or “broadcasting business”? Not as long as each had sound recording companies – RCA and Columbia – putting them in the wider-spanning “home entertainment business,” perhaps. So what business do most radio station owners think they’re in right now? Good question. It appears that most owners never saw a day coming where digital technology would provide arguably better alternatives to radio broadcasting. We’ve come to a place where nearly every entertaining element of radio can be found somewhere else 24 / 7, via one’s computer, mobile phone or another radio. What’s more, these elements can either come as listeners want them, or in some cases listeners can program the elements themselves. Clearly, radio will need to broaden the definition of the business it’s in – and back that up by committing to whatever the future of audio delivery is – or risk the same fate as the buggy whip. On top of that, stations will have to brand – or re-brand – themselves, to adapt to this new world. Put another way, radio must avoid both “Marketing Myopia” and identity crisis. It doesn’t matter whether a station is mostly music or talk: digital has proven itself an equal opportunity kicking-and-screaming dragger: If you’re a news / talker (or in some cases, a music FM) that interrupts your schedule for sports play-by-play, congratulations: you’ve sent listeners to another all-day source for news or music. If you’ve got one sports station but not the game rights to every team in town, you have to hope those fans find their way back to you. If you’re a music station whose morning show is mostly talk, there go your listeners to AOL, Yahoo, Sirius or any other non-stop music service. And if your music service isn’t listener-interactive, say goodbye to those who want to hear their favorite songs on demand. The solution to all the above is, of course, product line expansion: new addresses for your radio service, whether that means a second station that does what the first one does, or going live on the ’net. For news, it means having a 24 / 7 spot for that no matter what. For sports, it means having at least two of them. For music, it means covering all the bases with a group of stations / services within your format of choice, so passive listening if you want it, or on-demand if you need it. When it comes to station branding, there’s a bit of irony. Over the past 30 years, traditional call letters have given way to “handles” such as Kiss, Lite, X, Wired or The End, to name a few. But hundreds of stations using the same handle won’t be able to carve their own identities in other media, not to mention that the dial position that made these stations distinctive won’t matter anymore. “X99.9” means bupkis online. There are at least two remedies to this: 1. The ironic one, which is, return to using call letters, since only WABC can be WABC. 2. Create more unique station / service names. A daunting challenge, because your new name will need to reflect both your station’s geographic target and what your station does. Hy Lit Radio is already doing this for fans of Philly gold. By the way, radio is not the only medium guilty of marketing myopia. While tuned to the local cable news station yesterday, I saw this flash on-screen “News 12 New Jersey: Only on cable, Never on FIOS, Never on satellite.” Which tells me there’s a nice wide-open niche for local news on FIOS and satellite, which probably won’t be filled by News 12. Smart? I’d say not. -- Rich Appel

There is, without question, a feeling that the listener has "dumbed down" to a point where what's on "in the background" really doesn't matter anymore ... that's because the average listener is most likely "multi-tasking" ... on the computer with the TV softly muted, all the while sitting in their easy chair with the headphones to their iPod firmly planted in each ear. We just don't seem to have the attention span we used to have when life moved along at a slower pace ... and there weren't so many distractions all around us. But it's ALSO because nobody's been giving us much worth watching or listening to lately!

We see this trend in virtually EVERY type of entertainment that's brought into our homes. That's why there's so much "disposable" television programming going on these days ... a television program like one of OUR favorites, "Lost", has a very specific, hard-core audience ... a lot of folks simply won't go for a program like this because it requires TOO much attention ... you have to actually THINK about what's going on from episode to episode and a lot of folks simply aren't used to doing that anymore ... there's a committment involved! As such, a number of viewers have switched off, finding themselves "lost", too, by missing a key scene or revelation here and there.

Radio USED to be like that, too ... we hung on every word, WONDERING what the jock was going to say or do next ... we couldn't WAIT to hear the hot new music coming out of our little transistors ... heck, we'd put the radio under our pillows at night because we didn't want to miss a thing.

Sadly, today's generation will NEVER know this excitement ... because we've "dumbed down" to the lowest common denominator ... and that's a shame. All we hear today from these know-it-all consultants is "That Won't Work" ... completely forgetting the fact that it worked just fine for DECADES. (Then again, maybe a big part of the problem is that there hasn't been all that much to get excited about musically lately!!! We've conditioned ourselves not to get too excited about what will only end up being "last week's news" or this week's "Flavor Of The Month." We've spent so much time re-inventing the wheel that we seem to have forgotten what made the wheel (rock and) roll in the first place!

So much time and effort has been spent in cutting costs (and corners) through automation that MOST radio today is devoid of ANY sense of personality and interaction with the listener. To a degree, our greatest fears have been realized ... our lives are now being programmed by a computer! THEY'VE decided what we're supposed to like and not like ... what we hear and what we don't hear. This is why we hear something like "Stand By Me" or "Born To Be Wild" half a dozen times a day in literally EVERY city in the country. In THEIR minds, this is all we can handle.

But the fact is, those of us with half a brain ... those of us who like to think for ourselves ... have tuned out or given up. That's because we've reached a point where WE can program a day's worth of musical entertainment into our lives better than THEY can!!! And we now have the means to do so, thanks to things like iPods and CD burners and computers and the Internet.

And let's face it ... the criteria has changed a little bit, too ... we don't NEED the news at the top of the hour anymore ... if you want to hear the news, you can simply tune in to any one of half a dozen news-only channels now available. Want the weather? Switch over to the weather channel ... same with traffic ... or sports. Like talk? There are dozens of THOSE out there, too. Want music ONLY ... yep, just head on over to the Internet and you'll find nothing but music. It's ALL there ... segregated and streamlined to your little heart's content.

What seems to be MISSING is the personality-driven radio that we all grew up on ... we've been so programmed (or is that DE-programmed) to think that the jocks don't have anything worthwhile to say, that we don't want anything more than time, temp and music ... you can literally get a ROBOT to give you that ... and, in effect, that's EXACTLY what we're getting these days ... a "robotic", pre-recorded, voice-tracked program devoid of ANYTHING remotely resembling personality. This seems to be fine for some ... and, for many, it's all they know ... but those of us who grew up on radio know better.

Kudos to ANYBODY trying to get us back to where we once belonged ... it's been our biggest campaign here in Forgotten Hits for the past ten years. Thanks, Rich, John and everyone else who contributed ... some EXCELLENT food for thought ... and a chance for me to step up on my soap box one last time here at the end of another year! (kk)