Tuesday, July 25, 2006

red hot because it works

A friend and former radio colleague now lives in Memphis. The other day on her blog she linked to a CNN article that paints a rosy picture of what it's like to work for the satellite radio companies. The employees talk about the great creative vibe in the halls and their frustration with the state of regular, free, over-the-air radio:
Lee Abrams, XM's chief creative officer and senior vice president, is naturally bullish on satellite's capabilities and impact.

"I read about this thing [satellite radio] in the early '90s, and I thought it could do to FM what FM did to AM in the '70s," he said in May in an interview at XM's Washington headquarters. "FM had gotten overly ad-driven and, on the music side, had taken its eye off the 8-ball. I thought satellite could be what America needed."
In the '70s, most people thought that FM radio had killed AM. But AM wouldn't die. Instead it reinvented and reinvigorated itself. Radio Daily News had a link to an article in this morning's Los Angeles Times worth quoting:
In a tech-driven world jammed with listening options, an AM radio station breaking out as a ratings powerhouse runs counter to commonly held perceptions about the medium. Rather than leading the pack, AM should be buried underneath a pile of iPods, TiVo machines, computer games and instant messages.

But it is not. In fact, in Los Angeles, KFI-AM (640) did something last week no other AM station in Southern California has done in two decades: finish first in the overall ratings.

KFI is hardly alone. In fact, it could be considered merely catching up to its AM brothers and sisters in Philadelphia, Chicago, San Diego and a host of other major-market cities where an AM station is either ranked No. 1 or in the top five. Then there is KGO-AM in San Francisco, which has been the undisputed No. 1 station in that market for years.
Sure, KFI carries the syndicated Rush and Dr. Laura shows but its highly rated morning and afternoon drive shows are both local. Lee Abrams says that satellite radio could be what America needed. If satellite is the tool that forces FM to reinvent itself the same way that FM forced AM to reinvent itself, so be it. Let satellite bring about the death of the ten-songs-in-a-row-lite-rock-less-talk-official-listen-at-work-here's-Kenny-G stations. Put unique personalities on the air. Create content that can't be duplicated on an iPod. Rather than get stressed over satellite radio companies that charge people to listen, good old free terrestrial radio can pay attention to this:
"I don't think people really care about AM or FM," said Robin Bertolucci, KFI's program director for the last four years. "It's like network or cable on television. They just want to watch the show they want to watch. It's not the delivery, it's the program."
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Blogger jess said...

it's the program.
it's the content.
the personality and the words and the meaning are what bring people back.
satellite is getting it, to a degree, in that they are taking people out of context and presenting them in a way that intrigues people - bob dylan or tom petty talking and playing music.
i wish we all that freedom in our formats and shows.

Blogger Heather said...

I gree with jess. it all of that. My tahoe came with xm something I never considered buying my self but I listen to that almost exclussively. I listen to your show because I like the way the 3 of you work toegther its a good balance. You guys are intriguing. Xm offers broader varity of music and wide varity of talk. am is like that as well. They don't conform the way fm does.

Anonymous Pam Mc said...

I love my FREE radio.....and Star 102 morning show is the BEST.


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