Local Radio Is Dead And I Am Sad

Radio isn’t fun any more. Radio doesn’t have larger than life personalities any more. And, rapidly, radio isn’t local any more.

When I was a kid I loved radio–listened to it intently. I wanted to be on radio and once college told me I was through being educated radio is just what I did.

Radio was everything I expected it to be and I loved it. Sure I fought with my bosses (Peter–I’m talking about you among others) and even got myself fired a few times, but radio was satisfying.

Doing mornings at WPEN is probably my all-time favorite job. I was given reasonably free rein and had a great time. I’d do it a little differently today, but I have no regrets.

I fell in love with radio because of the people I listened to on radio. They were smart, often witty and funny. I listened to Brucie and Dan Ingram on WABC and Gary Stevens on WMCA. Jean Shepard talked to himself for 45 minutes a night on WOR and I never missed him.

My favorite station was WKBW in Buffalo. I couldn’t hear it until the Sun set. I was a member of Joey Reynold’s “Royal Order of the Night People” and listened to Danny Nevereth, Bud Ballou and Sandy Beach. Rod Roddy, who later became the announcer on “The Price is Right” did overnights on KB–and I listened.

Radio was full service back then. Even stations ‘for kids’ had hourly newscasts. It was tough to be an uninformed teen. That’s much easier today.

Radio isn’t fun to listen to any more. Radio doesn’t have larger than life personalities any more. Radio isn’t local any more. What was local is evaporating rapidly.

The radio stations I listened to created a community. There is no more community. I can’t see anyone loving radio the way I loved radio… the way some of my friends loved radio. There is little to love.

Today Clear Channel Communications announced they were cutting another 600 jobs. They cut nearly 2,000 back in January. Local people are being hatcheted and replaced with nationally syndicated shows. Local people used to talk about local things in the time slots now devoted to Ryan Seacrest, Billy Bush, John Tesh and Rush Limbaugh.

R&R has a list of some of those let go. It’s sad to see. Lots of 10 and 20 years veterans. Lots of people whose shows were getting good numbers.

Helaine often says when TV is through with me maybe I should go back into radio. I don’t think there will be any radio left.

I am saddened.

6 thoughts on “Local Radio Is Dead And I Am Sad”

  1. Geoff, I too, remember those radio DJs. Remember how Dan Ingram would tell us to “turn over” at the beach so we would tan (or in my case, burn) evenly? Or Murray the K–everyone’s favorite cousin and the 5th Beatle? There was also a show on ?WMCA that covered the overnight hours and they called it “the night light”…I recall thinking how cool it was to be up that early to listen to that show as I got ready to visit the ’64 World’s Fair. Are any of those DJs still around?

  2. Thanks for those memories, Geoff. I used to listen to KB and WPTR in Albany at night, when it was hit or miss with the AM signal. Growing up in the sticks of Ct., Buffalo and Albany seemed like exotic faraway places….lol. Sometimes it sucks to grow up. John

  3. a touching obit. just 20 years after the death and that’s being charitable . the clear channel you mention and infinity, cox et al conspired for profit’s sake years ago to destroy locality and pinch off the growing end of the new ingrams and balous and munys and all the wonderful voices who inhabited the mysterious ether. accountants and consultants and corporate aglomerizers and focus groupers and short term thinkers have won the day. cherish the few sources of great surprising radio that remain. support local original radio wherever you can find it. it’s out there in almost every town. you have to search it out.

  4. Local radio still lives, but you have to go all the way over to the left side of the dial to find it. The New Haven area is blessed to have WPKN at 89.5 FM on our airwaves, a 100% listener-supported, 100% volunteer-produced community radio station that provides shows covering every genre of music plus a host of locally-produced public affairs programming and local news every weekday evening at 6:30 pm. There are no rules aside from those prescribed by the FCC, no programming limitations, and the station even continues to adhere to the Fairness Doctrine even though the FCC threw that out years ago. Sometimes it’s not the slickest thing in the history of broadcasting, but that’s part of its charm. (One of their bumper stickers years ago carried the slogan, “Some Songs I Like/Some Songs I Don’t Like.” That’s pretty much their philosophy in a nutshell, right there.)

    The University of New Haven station, WNHU (88.7 FM) also has some long-running locally-produced programs on it to balance out the usual college radio fare.

    I discovered radio in college (WESU 88.1 FM in Middletown), and it’s always been clear that non-commercial radio is the only way to go. Commercial radio has been dead ever since the rise of the 9-headed hydra of Clear Channel. NPR has been doing its best over the past 15 years to kill non-commercial radio as well, but so long as some college stations successfully fend off NPR’s advances and remain independent, and so long as the small community stations are able to remain self-sufficient, local radio will survive in some form or another.

  5. Amen to all that’s been said. What’s scary is my forst job in radio doen’t exist anymore. It’s now done by a machine. So if was to get into radio now.. there would be no opportunity.. I just would have moved on to something else.. Too bad.

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