The Death of Radio
The following opinionated editorial is a prediction. A conversation with an employee at a well-known radio station in New York mixed with the observations in the Houston Music Industry created this op-ed, so don’t shoot the messenger.
This blog is a prediction that I am not “hoping” comes true, but it is based, however, on the observations of the speed of technology, the internet, and the interests and awareness of music fans.
The year is 2028. I remember back when I used to hop in my car and turn on a radio station. Seems like just yesterday.
I should’ve known radio was going to die when I saw car manufacturers removed CD Players. I should’ve predicted that radio would be the next to go. I noticed in 2017 as a music industry professional that the cars I rented while I was out of town didn’t have CD Players. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed if artists weren’t shoving CDs into my hands at every event.
I don’t think anyone could have predicted a day that we wouldn’t need a CD Player, but that death was just the beginning..
The quality of music on the radio started to decline as the “politics” behind radio programming made it more difficult to keep up with the music fans wanted. At one point in time, I counted a song being played 5 times on one station and two different stations at the same time at least twice in a 2 hour period. I had stopped listening to the radio 1 or 2 years prior to the closure of the first batch of radio stations due to the low quality of programming on the stations.
I really should’ve known when I saw the number of legitimate commercials from big companies decline. Advertisers were seeking more online and TV advertisements. These ads which had helped radio pay its’ radio personalities and staff went from big company ads like Sprite to local accident lawyer ads. Record labels were losing control and slowly losing money as Music artists went independent by utilizing the internet and controlling their own careers and shows. They had less money to push and promote their own artists and pay staff.
Radio had obviously refused to change its’ business model. They had seemed stick to running the same business model that was successful for them in 1995 in 2015. Top 40 stations were no exception. By the time a song made it to their station, people were sick of it as most stations relied on 65 year old employees and charts to tell them what they should play.
Not only was their business model outdated, but just as with the slow agonizing death of Toys R Us and Blockbuster Video, they seemed to refuse to restructure the way they did business even as they were obviously losing money.
The death began in the bigger more concentrated cities first and of course, began with hip-hop radio. The price to run the stations were greater than the income. The stations started slowly downsizing (workforce reduction) and gave the staff that was left more tasks to add to their steadily growing job descriptions. They then removed the radio personalities almost completely, only to leave a handful of employees, mostly DJs, to just make pre-recorded drops to play before their songs.
A few radio stations shut down completely within the first five years after 2017 with many other to follow suit over the next five years after that. On about the year 2023, vehicle manufacturers caught wind of the FM station shut down and stopped placing FM access in their newer car models. Their newer models already had Satellite radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB options anyway.
Most former employees of the radio stations got into more independent ventures like comedy, movies, and podcasting. Of course, as with any company’s bankruptcy or closure, a lot of lives were affected by the death of radio.
Some have said the death of radio could have been avoided by opening its’ doors to more independent artists and keeping content fresh and interesting. Some say technology and the internet killed radio.
I personally just think it’s unfortunate that the decision to not evolve with the changing times by a few rich, entitled, and far removed from reality individuals in a very high position affected the lives of so many.
I guess Entrepreneur and Internet Personality, Gary Vaynerchuk was right..
“Evolve or Die..”
– School Of Rocky