Why commercial radio is in decline.

By Scott Westerman

From Inside Radio

Time for radio to take some chances.
That’s a mantra for Greater Media’s Peter Smyth. While Cumulus chief Lew Dickey tells the NAB Radio Show in Dallas “we can’t be afraid to fall on our faces” and experiment. And Emmis boss Jeff Smulyan says the new comedy-based morning show at Q101, Chicago has him “more excited than anything in years.” Smyth also preaches that “radio needs to get back into the marketing business”.

I read the PDF from the NAB convention, and concluded, again, that the downward spiral continues.

Juxtapose this depressing narrative against my exhilarating visit with Bob Green at Nellie Knorr’s funeral and the extraordinary Todd Storz documentary over at Reel Radio.

Keener inspired me to want to be a broadcaster. Since I was just 17 when the station faded into history, I never dreamt that I would become friends with my heroes and could contribute in some small way to the legacy.

One of the sad things about radio’s evolution is that we’ve lost the artistry. The nuances of the mix, the lyricism of the vocal delivery and the alchemy of entertainment & execution are things that are totally lost on the vast majority of the people on the air today. There was a time when listeners turned the volume -up- at the end of the song to hear what was happening in between. Every station had access to the same music and it was the “in-between” that generated the value. Somewhere along the way, that key insight was lost and at that moment our beloved medium began its decline.

Read any biz book worth it’s salt (Good to Great, Never Eat Alone, Covey, Carnegie). The most successful long term business relationships are predicated on a deep personal relationship with the customer. I can’t name one commerical radio station that can do this consistenly throughout the day.

When I want the in-betweens now, I go to NPR.