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  • What happened to rock radio?

    I was reading the new book by Ken Scott "Abby Road to Ziggy Stardust" and he talked a little about today's music business. He says the major labels are gone and that we will see a rise of artists doing it for themselves.

    But then he says:

    "The hard part is how to get the act's recorded music in front of the public. My thought is that we need to go back to where it's more like it was on the 60's and 70's radio stations. That's when you had DJs who picked their own music and you followed them because you trusted their taste"

    There are a lot of articles on the internet complaining about the death of rock radio.

    What happened to rock radio? Why are there no old time AOR style stations anymore?

    I started listening to the radio in the seventies and for thirty years I could easily fill up the dial in my car radio with decent rock stations. I could switch between a variety of AOR, classic rock, light rock, and pop stations and almost always find a song that I liked or least something that I didn't hate.

    Six years ago, after almost 40 years of playing classic rock style music the big Atlanta rock station "96 Rock" switched to "Project 96.1" a format of what I can only classify as angry, aggressive, distortion rock.

    About a year ago after more than twenty five years of playing light rock and pop the last adult contemporary station left in Atlanta, "B98.5" starting shifting towards urban music.

    All of the top 40 stations in Atlanta have basically become teen pop and hip-hop stations. They mostly play that electronic clap sound music and dance techo.

    There are probably only two rock stations left in Atlanta that I could listen to all the time if I had to. "Dave FM" which I guess would be classified as light rock/ adult alternative or something and "97.1 the River" which has a VERY small playlist of about 150 classic rock hits that have been in constant rotation since the station came on the air about five years ago.

    I hear people complain all the time about how today's music sucks. Even a lot of the younger people I talk with complain about it. But I think what they are really complaining about is the music they hear on today's radio. There is a lot of great music out there, but unfortunately you really have to search to find it these days.

    I know a guy in his early twenties who likes to tell me about all the great classic rock he has discovered on YouTube. He thinks he's turning me on to some great new discovery that he's found.

    I almost feel guilty when I tell him yeah, I know all about it. I used to hear it on the radio.

  • #2
    There are probably only two rock stations left in Atlanta that I could listen to all the time if I had to. "Dave FM" which I guess would be classified as light rock/ adult alternative or something and "97.1 the River" which has a VERY small playlist of about 150 classic rock hits that have been in constant rotation since the station came on the air about five years ago.

    You are lucky, the classic rock station over here in Australia have been playing that playlist for the past 20 years, and when I say station, I mean there are probably over 50 classic rock stations throughout the country, but they are all controlled by the one monopoly. , at night, you can tune across the AM band and hear the same old playlist right across the country.

    Not much we can do about it, I think it has something to do with the way the royalties have been consolidated, so the DJ's have no say in what they play at all, they just have to sound very enthusiastic about it all, pick up their pay cheque at the end of the week, and live the quintessential pleb lifestyle.

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    • #3
      It's the internet, man. It's the same as how radio serials died out when TV came around.

      I haven't listened to the radio (other than NPR and talk radio) since I got out of High School, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in my age group who does listen to the radio.
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      • #4
        I am sympathetic to your discussion, Folder. The same is largely true here in San Antonio. Lots of lousy radio stations. San Antonio hasn't had an "Underground" FM station since the glory days of KEXL in the 1970's (when the DJ was more stoned than YOU were).

        I don't know about other Americans writing on this particular thread, but FM listening is very tricky in San Antonio/Austin, because there are so many, many FM stations, all choc-a-bloc along along the FM dial. No white space anymore. This means that there are often annoying break-ins of Station B into Station A while you're driving. One minute you're listening to boisterous C&W, then a fervent Christian station breaks through with its creepy treacle... turn another city corner and you get Spanish chattering and synth-cumbia.
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        • #5
          there are hundreds of oldie radio channel which stream rock

          but you must plug your radio into that new plug on the wall

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          • #6
            It's the internet, man. It's the same as how radio serials died out when TV came around.

            I haven't listened to the radio (other than NPR and talk radio) since I got out of High School, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in my age group who does listen to the radio.


            That's about all I listen to, mainly the ABC for the docos, News Radio have NPR on sometimes as well as the BBC, and listen to one commercial talk back guy, that gets stuck into the politicians.
            Unfortunately, I still have to wait to get internet on demand here for the time being, so no internet radio for me, too expensive.

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            • #7
              One of the main reasons for the downfall of radio is the deregulation that took place in the 90s that allowed for large corporate ownership. A small handful of companies own every station in the country. The independents are all but gone.

              There's actually still a decent FM rock station in Reno, of all places. While not strictly 'rock' KTHX plays what they call "Adult alternative". It's corporate-owned, but by a smaller company that only owns a dozen or so stations across the country.

              This is a quick copy-and-paste of what they list online as their current 'playlist'

              Alabama Shakes - I Ain't the Same
              Alex Clare - Too Close
              Atlas Genius - Trojans
              Avett Brothers - Live and Die
              Blind Pilot - Half Moon
              Brandi Carlile - That Wasn't Me
              Dave Matthews Band - Mercy
              Dirty Heads - Spread Too Thin
              Dunwells - I Could Be a King
              Ed Sheeran - The A Team
              Florence + The Machine - No Light No Light
              Fun - Some Nights
              Gotye - Eyes Wide Open
              Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Never Go Back
              Graffiti6 - Stare in the Sun
              Green Day - Oh Lover
              Grouplove - Tongue Tied
              Imagine Dragons - It's Time
              Jack White - I'm Shakin
              JD McPherson - North Side Gal
              Jerry Douglas and Mumford & Sons - The Boxer
              John Mayer - Queen of California
              Joss Stone - High Road
              Keane - Silenced by the Night
              Lumineers - Ho Hey
              Matt Nathanson - Modern Love
              Matisyahu - Sunshine
              ______________

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              • #8
                Well yeah, the importance of radio has diminished to the point of teetering on dead. That
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                • #9
                  I was reading the new book by Ken Scott "Abby Road to Ziggy Stardust" and he talked a little about today's music business. He says the major labels are gone and that we will see a rise of artists doing it for themselves.

                  But then he says:

                  "The hard part is how to get the act's recorded music in front of the public. My thought is that we need to go back to where it's more like it was on the 60's and 70's radio stations. That's when you had DJs who picked their own music and you followed them because you trusted their taste"

                  There are a lot of articles on the internet complaining about the death of rock radio.

                  What happened to rock radio? Why are there no old time AOR style stations anymore?

                  I started listening to the radio in the seventies and for thirty years I could easily fill up the dial in my car radio with decent rock stations. I could switch between a variety of AOR, classic rock, light rock, and pop stations and almost always find a song that I liked or least something that I didn't hate.

                  Six years ago, after almost 40 years of playing classic rock style music the big Atlanta rock station "96 Rock" switched to "Project 96.1" a format of what I can only classify as angry, aggressive, distortion rock.

                  About a year ago after more than twenty five years of playing light rock and pop the last adult contemporary station left in Atlanta, "B98.5" starting shifting towards urban music.

                  All of the top 40 stations in Atlanta have basically become teen pop and hip-hop stations. They mostly play that electronic clap sound music and dance techo.

                  There are probably only two rock stations left in Atlanta that I could listen to all the time if I had to. "Dave FM" which I guess would be classified as light rock/ adult alternative or something and "97.1 the River" which has a VERY small playlist of about 150 classic rock hits that have been in constant rotation since the station came on the air about five years ago.

                  I hear people complain all the time about how today's music sucks. Even a lot of the younger people I talk with complain about it. But I think what they are really complaining about is the music they hear on today's radio. There is a lot of great music out there, but unfortunately you really have to search to find it these days.

                  I know a guy in his early twenties who likes to tell me about all the great classic rock he has discovered on YouTube. He thinks he's turning me on to some great new discovery that he's found.

                  I almost feel guilty when I tell him yeah, I know all about it. I used to hear it on the radio.
                  Radio has consolidated in a few hands in the US. For much of the first century of broadcasting, there was an oversight ethos that a vibrant radio scene was helped by broad and diverse licensing, which imposed limits on the number of stations a single entity could control.

                  In the 80s the economic reconsolidation movement known publicly as "deregulation" paved the way for new quasi-monopolies, chains of stations all pumping out the same, centralized, automated programming, which ended up with local programming dominated by distant, monopolistic economic interests pumping out homogenous programming -- much of it chosen, in large part, in the light of "considerations" and "copromotions" that line station and station personnel's accounts.

                  NPR recently did a breakdown of a production and promotion/marketing costs for a single aimed at the charts by big artists like Rihanna (who, indeed, provided the song and figures the piece was based on)... the songwriting and production costs were high: they figured $78K.

                  But nothing compared to the money lavished on critics, the music news media, and, of course, inducements to station and station personnel to play the thing in the form of, well, all kinds of things.

                  The total just to persuade rock crits to write about it and radio programmers to consider playing it for one single: $1 million.

                  NPR: How Much Does It Cost To Make A Hit Song?
                  .

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                  • #10
                    and if the few conglomerates own the majority of the big market stations, they are only going to play those artists that they own-its a business model. The old hippies do not buy music, we have everything bought. The big number buyers are between 10 and 25, they don't listen to sknyrd, nor why should they, I didn t listen to benny goodman
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                    • #11
                      One of the main reasons for the downfall of radio is the deregulation that took place in the 90s that allowed for large corporate ownership. A small handful of companies own every station in the country. The independents are all but gone.

                      There's actually still a decent FM rock station in Reno, of all places. While not strictly 'rock' KTHX plays what they call "Adult alternative". It's corporate-owned, but by a smaller company that only owns a dozen or so stations across the country.

                      This is a quick copy-and-paste of what they list online as their current 'playlist'

                      Alabama Shakes - I Ain't the Same
                      Alex Clare - Too Close
                      Atlas Genius - Trojans
                      Avett Brothers - Live and Die
                      Blind Pilot - Half Moon
                      Brandi Carlile - That Wasn't Me
                      Dave Matthews Band - Mercy
                      Dirty Heads - Spread Too Thin
                      Dunwells - I Could Be a King
                      Ed Sheeran - The A Team
                      Florence + The Machine - No Light No Light
                      Fun - Some Nights
                      Gotye - Eyes Wide Open
                      Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Never Go Back
                      Graffiti6 - Stare in the Sun
                      Green Day - Oh Lover
                      Grouplove - Tongue Tied
                      Imagine Dragons - It's Time
                      Jack White - I'm Shakin
                      JD McPherson - North Side Gal
                      Jerry Douglas and Mumford & Sons - The Boxer
                      John Mayer - Queen of California
                      Joss Stone - High Road
                      Keane - Silenced by the Night
                      Lumineers - Ho Hey
                      Matt Nathanson - Modern Love
                      Matisyahu - Sunshine


                      That playlist looks interesting. I've heard a few of those on "DaveFM" in Atlanta but the majority of them I've never even heard of.

                      When ever I go on road trips, I like to scan the radio stations in the smaller markets and I always hear cool stuff that I never hear in Atlanta.

                      When I was a kid in the late seventies I was listening to a small top 40 station way up in the north georgia mountains. In between the BeeGees and Donna Summer all of a sudden I hear "Wonderous Stories" by Yes. I remember thinking how incredibly odd it was because in Atlanta, Yes was not even remotely considered top 40.

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                      • #12
                        Radio has consolidated in a few hands in the US. For much of the first century of broadcasting, there was an oversight ethos that a vibrant radio scene was helped by broad and diverse licensing, which imposed limits on the number of stations a single entity could control.



                        I think the telecommunications act of 1996 had a lot to do with homogenizing today's radio. I read something recently that said most DJs have not had to the power to choose a song in about 15 years. Everything is pretty much pre-programed at corporate headquarters now.

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                        • #13
                          I live on the CT/ Mass border we have an oldies station out of hartford WDRC that plays Cheesey pop music that I like or change the channel. New Haven's WPLR was an underground station in the 70's, I listen, but it is a limited playlist, with lots of overlap of the hits from it's underground roots, As is WAQY out of Springfield MA. I only listen in the car now and my CD player gets more use than the radio. Are we SSS people good representatives of the masses? I just don't listen to radio anymore. I was in an office for 10 years and had the luxury of my own personal office. I had Rhapsody as soon as it was available I have used rhapsody every day for at least 8 years now and love it. It is totally worth the money to me. I'd like to think it's business model works for the musicians. I have to provide my own Beatles library on my hard disc but I'll do that. I work from home and as the song says "Don't get out much anymore."
                          Tim Mayock

                          northfieldmusic.org
                          would have been a minister if it wasn't for all the religion, Would have been a police man if it wasn't for all those laws, now just a good samaritan when i can

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                          • #14


                            "The hard part is how to get the act's recorded music in front of the public. My thought is that we need to go back to where it's more like it was on the 60's and 70's radio stations. That's when you had DJs who picked their own music and you followed them because you trusted their taste"

                            - Ken Scott


                            While I find the whole issue of how and why and to what extent old school radio is dead, what I find particularly intriguing is, what was good about it? and how can we get some of that back and where.

                            Nice quote by Ken Scott, Folder. That is what we are lacking right now. We all have the friend who has what you consider great taste. We watch him like a hawk cause we're going to discover some great music. Most of us here are that guy to out friends. And that's what the great DJs were.

                            That is gone, but how can we get it back?

                            People who like that like this...

                            I love that on my Nook. I finish a book and there are 5 recommendations. 4 are way wrong but that 5th is something I hadn't heard of that frequently fits the bill. But that isn't quite a great DJ who's taste I trust. That's an algorithm based on genre. I think of movie critics. There's a guy at the San Diego Reader who's movie taste I despise. I avoid his picks. But you know, I actually like Ebert's sensibilities a lot. So, for movies, he's my cool DJ with taste I trust.

                            But where is that for music right now? It's an interesting question. A question we should keep in mind and try to provide an answer. I like the idea of artists playlists. Just what does the bass player from Foster the People listen to? Getting there, but... not quite.
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                            • #15
                              I'm impressed that rock hasn't gone the listener supported route that jazz, blues and classical had to take. Its ancient music now and there's still a lot of it here in So Cal., plus hip-hop, rap, and Mexican stuff galore. Still no ambient station though, maybe an eclectic ambient show once a week or so.
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