Thursday, November 03, 2005

RADIO RANTS

Just thought I'd provide this link: www.radiohof.org.

This weekend is the Radio Hall of Fame induction and it's going to be broadcast on an American 50,000-watt AM station near you at 9PM CST Saturday. Not to be missed.

I must say that I am certainly a big radio listener and fan of the medium and I'm very well aware of the history of radio and all the rest of it. I've been reading books this week about the whole history of radio and the Golden Age of Radio, and thinking about what radio was like back in the old days. It pretty much offered what TV stations offer these days in terms of programming. I know a number of radio stations carry the When Radio Was program hosted by Stan Freberg and they rerun a lot of the old shows. CHML in Hamilton runs these old shows a lot, as does WBBM in Chicago and KMOX in St. Louis. KNX in Los Angeles had the KNX Drama Hour and they used to have old shows like "Dragnet" on. The shows were basically all from the 1940s when "network radio" was at its height. CBS and NBC were the big networks back then, in fact NBC basically dominated network radio.

These days radio is very different. "Prime time" for radio is now in the mornings and that's where you hear your favorite local morning show hosts as well as popular national hosts like Don Imus and Howard Stern. Talk radio titans like Rush Limbaugh can be heard during the day and into the night on AM, and at night you can hear a lot of sports action. These days it's all talk on the AM and all music on the FM.

The typical station is something like 97.3 EZ Rock, that station in town here that has promos featuring Leeza Gibbons. I don't know why Leeza Gibbons says she listens to EZRock- maybe she listens to it on the Internet. (I think she has a show on EZRock or something). Anyway, it bills itself as the official "at-work" radio station and plays lite rock all the time, basically the blandest music imaginable. It's the type of station you expect to hear when you go to the dentist to have your teeth pulled. At least it isn't country music, I'll grant them that. Then you have Jack-FM which has no discernable format at all! They just play crappy music all day, with no personalities. I heard they fired all their DJs, that's it's all automated. What a joke. I know a lot of the fans of old-time network radio hated it when these stations started spinning Top-40 records and ran network radio off the air, but at least these DJs on Top 40 radio had some personality. Jack-FM has NOTHING. It's a JOKE.

I still prefer AM radio. At least you stand a chance of hearing intelligent talk shows, news or sports on AM. AM is where the talk show hosts like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham can be found, and also where you can hear radio networks like ESPN Radio and Radio Disney. Of course Don Imus and his morning show is on 660 WFAN. Overnights are a waste- they run that crazy show Coast-to-Coast on a lot of these AM stations and they talk about UFOs and are into conspiracy theories and other bizarre stuff. What rubbish. I preferred the old days when Larry King used to have a show overnights on the Mutual Network, but that ended years ago. Larry King was much better on the radio than on TV, his radio show was excellent. His television show is a joke compared to his radio work. But he gave up radio for health reasons, largely.

But still, it's not like it was in the Golden Age of Radio. It probably will never be what it was ever again. In fact there's a lot of doom and gloom out there, with a lot of people saying that radio is doomed because people are listening to music on their iPods now. Maybe they mean to say that stations like JACK-FM are doomed. Maybe radio stations will be encouraged to go out and hire some personalities, and put them on the air! That's where the future of radio lies. A lot of radio broadcasters are trying hard to do good stuff but they've had few opportunities to do that; often their hands are tied by management or even by the government. With the arrival of satellite radio there's going to be more opportunities for radio people to be creative and do good stuff.

I am really looking forward to the arrival of satellite radio in Canada and I'm trying to figure out which package to get. XM seems to have the better sports programming but Sirius has Howard Stern, and that's a big consideration for me. The big news in the United States is surrounding the coming end of Stern on regular radio and his move to satellite. The people at Infinity are replacing Stern on regular radio with Adam Carolla and... somebody. Who cares, they're going to get their heads blown off.

What I really need to find out is whether Stern is going to be allowed into Canada after his CRTC run-ins. That may be the deciding factor for me, what package I buy. Say what you will about Stern, at least he tries to do good radio. And satellite radio is bound to be an improvement over what passes for FM these days.

Personally I'm hoping for big things for satellite radio. I'm hoping we see some all-comedy channels and some groundbreaking stuff on the air. That would be worth the asking price.

UPDATE:
On second thought I don't think I'll be purchasing satellite radio at all. Way to go, CRTC. Way to go, Government of Canada.

You know what, SIRIUS just announced its lineup today for its Canadian service and there is NO HOWARD STERN. That's right, folks. HOWARD STERN HAS BEEN BANNED FROM CANADA- AGAIN.

So you can't even have any freedom in this country with satellite radio! You can't air something politically incorrect in this country without it getting banned. You can't even have the option of paying to hear it! What point is there to purchasing satellite radio if you can't hear Stern?! Another big advertisement to head to the USA in my book.

Canada, land of freedom. Sure.

1 comment:

Josef-Konrad Radomski said...

I agree with your points about Stern and the CRTC limiting what we pay for.

If you'd like to spread the word, I've started a petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/sterncan/petition.html requesting Sirius Canada air Stern here.

While petitions are sometimes lame, one I launched a few weeks back helped bring The Colbert Report to the Comedy Network, so they're not all for nothing.

Anything you can do, or want to do to support my Stern petition would be appreciated.