About the Post

Author Information

Steve Moore, B.A., J.D. Author Steve has been in the music business for over 30 years! He's worked as a professional musician, producer, and has been involved in almost every aspect of the music business. He's also the author of "The Truth about the Music Business"

Radio Wars

Originally Published 8/14/2010 via Blogger



For decades “local radio” had a stronghold on what you heard over the local FM or even AM dial. At one point, one could get their songs on a 500KW station and literally break a band wide open as in the case of “Double Shot of my Baby’s Love” by a good friend of mine. Once that song hit a market – then people called up to hear MORE of it and next thing you know that band could then go play a HUGE radius around that radio station. A “hit” was determined by the listeners – NOT by the labels that now PAY and PAY BIG for what they call “Ads”.

And back in the day, any number of favors could be given to a DJ, there weren’t programmers at that point, and your song would get on the radio. After that it was up to the listeners to determine if it became a hit. But radio was more localized and this was before the Payola Statute that put Alan Freed into the poor house and eventually in the grave. And then the labels found a huge loophole in the “Payola Statute”. An artist or even a label couldn’t provide money or other emoluments DIRECTLY to a Radio Station, but that’s when “independent radio marketers” came into play. As an artist or even a label I couldn’t pay the radio station direct – but I could pay a middleman to pay the Radio station and HUGE money at that…unbelievable. One would think that Orrin Hatch and the team of legislators would have foreseen that – or would have done something about it AFTER the FACT – but this whole model is STILL in place almost 50 year or so…

But it gets worse, now local radio lets a computer (ARBIRTRON) decide what to play and they have programmers that allegedly have marketing focus groups to rely on – (yeah, like they really have focus groups make decisions as to what you will hear!)

What really happens is that the labels pump a ton of money into a single so that it will get played and THEN HOPE that will drive sales and thus a HIT is made – but that whole system is just totally backwards – but that’s local radio. Hence why I don’t listen to it…

Yes, my alarm clock wakes me up with a local radio station but after that it’s either Pandora or XM/Sirius for the rest of the day. But mind you not everyone has satellite or internet radio as the FACTS still bear out that a lot of people still listen to local radio – which I’m glad as I want to support my local radio stations, but yet, they won’t support LOCAL MUSIC as required by the FCC. And after all, who really owns the airwaves? The PEOPLE! Yes, the people of these United States, but yet they have NO SAY whatsoever as to what they hear. It’s all over corporatist mocha-china land and as you travel from place to place you’ll hear the SAME SONGS as you stop at the same chain restaurant and get the SAME FOOD no matter where you go. Local Color is being killed off by Wal-Mart, FAST FOOD and BIG RADIO!

More to come…as I delve in to the problems, possible solutions and what local radio should REALLY be doing!

Steve Moore

Music Square One

Tags: ,