Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's the frequency, Kenneth? Radio ramblings

Some thoughts on that medium that everyone says is obsolete but listens to anyway…

KGIL, an AM station in the San Fernando Valley is changing its format from “Standards” (i.e. Sinatra and maybe one Peggy Lee record a week) to “Classical”. With all the technology and improved fidelity these days, who’s going to listen to Classical Music on AM? That’s like watching AVATAR on 16 mm.

Morning Zoos are not funny. PARKS & RECREATION did a great bit a couple of weeks ago lampooning your typical Morning Zoo. Two obnoxious idiots doing four hours of fart jokes every day. That kid in high school who mimicked the girl with epilepsy was funnier.

Best syndicated all-night show: Red Eye Radio with Doug McIntyre. Hopefully he’s in your market. The man can talk on any subject. He’s a cross between a 5-time JEOPARDY champion and Jean Shepherd.  Especially knowledgeable in history, jazz, and SHE'S THE SHERIFF. 

What’s the big complaint people have about terrestrial radio? That they play too many commercials. So why do most stations continue to program 18 minutes of them? That’s suicide. Why not limit your spot load to 12 minutes and just charge more? It always kills me that music stations spend so much time on research and so much money on promotions and then just chase away their audience with a relentless bombardment of commercials.

Several years ago the geniuses who ran radio stations determined that the “Oldies” format was dead. Now that People Meters are used to determine ratings and not unreliable diaries, it turns out that “Oldies” is the most popular format of all. It’s that kind of thinking that has led us to Crystal Pepsi, rabbit Jerky, four-track tapes, and Budweiser’s tomato and clam juice beer -- the Chelada.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of radio visionaries, can we finally admit that HD Radio was a fucking bust? That was supposed to be the savior. Do you know one person who has an HD radio? Have you ever even seen an HD radio?   It's right up there with Betamax and the CBS Color Wheel.

Wanna know the future? It’s not satellite. Satellite’s contribution is making Howard Stern a billionaire. And I bet with all his money, even he isn’t shelling out $14.95 a month to hear the same songs he’s got programmed on his Pandora station.

When consumers are able to easily access internet radio in their cars, then the station you run out off an old Dell computer in your closet will be just as valuable as that terrestrial station that Clear Channel paid $30,000,000 for. More valuable because you won’t play18 God awful minutes of commercials.

Speaking of internet radio – I don’t know whether to plug this or disavow any knowledge – but Great Big Radio tomorrow night will be playing an hour recording of me as Beaver Cleaver on B100 San Diego from 1976. It’s a wonder I wasn’t led off in a straightjacket after this show. It airs at 11:00 PM EDT and then again at 11:00 PM PDT.

And I can’t plug internet oldies without a shout-out to  Imagine hearing a Roy Orbison song that isn’t Pretty Woman.

Baseball season begins tonight. Baseball is a sport that’s best described on radio. A good announcer can transport you to a different world. Television assaults you with “whooshes!”, replays, and close ups of coaches spitting tobacco. There are many excellent hometown team baseball announcers. May I recommend a few? Vin Scully of the Dodgers, Jon Miller of the Giants, Howie Rose of the Mets, Marty Brennaman of the Reds, Eric Nadel of the Rangers, Ted Leitner of the Padres, Bob Uecker of the Brewers, Dave & Andy of the Rays, and my excellent broadcast partner – Rick Rizzs of the Mariners.

A rising talk radio star: John Phillips on KABC Los Angeles.

Every radio market has a KISS-FM. Every one, at this exact moment, is playing the same Lady Gaga song.

In his never-ending quest to be Ryan Seacrest, Carson Daly now also has a morning radio show. Wouldn’t it be great if Ryan ever comes out and Carson has to break it to Siri Pinter that he now likes guys?

Glenn Beck’s radio ratings are plummeting. There is a God! May he suffer the same fate as the JACK format.

And finally, a blast from the past: This is classic DICK VAN DYKE SHOW featuring radio. Rob Petrie is a small town disc jockey looking to set a world record as the D.J. who stays awake on the air the longest. Hilarity and brilliant physical comedy ensues. 

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