While covering radio for eight months earlier this year for Radio-Info.com (since sold and shuttered), a disconcerting trend was taking root nationwide: Many of the nation’s mega-broadcast owners were shifting their AM talk programming to the FM dial. Every time this occurred in any market, I’d scowl, because it obviously meant that radio was tossing away a music station in its place.
As someone that has covered (and loved) radio for more than 25 years, I can’t see this as anything but self-sabotage on the part of Clear Channel, CBS and the rest of the big boys. As the airwaves become increasingly irrelevant to new generations—thanks to such previous missteps as loading 16 minutes of commercials in an hour and replacing local talent with nationally syndicated personalities—the last thing companies should be doing is supplanting music with talk.
Today it was announced that CBS Radio is purchasing New York’s 101.9 FM from Merlin Media for a reported $75 million. Their plan is to strip off alternative rock to simulcast Sports Radio WFAN-AM. What a fucking waste.
Mind you, it was only three months ago that 101.9 returned to rock, after a dismally failed experiment to air FM news on the frequency. The station was a no-go from the start—because it couldn’t compete with New York’s well-entrenched all-news WINS… at 1010 on the AM dial.
My teenage nephew explained to me a few years ago that the only thing he uses his car radio for is the plug-in for his iPod/iPhone. In fact, he had never listened to FM radio. Now… just wait until online “radio” is available in vehicles. Talk about the grand finale. How heartbreaking it is to see terrestrial radio continue to lodge its collective head up it arse. What an absolute pity. *