In another sad reminder of both print media and radio’s troubling times, after 35 years, music industry trade magazine R&R (which stood for Radio & Records) has ceased publication, effective immediately. The magazine’s radio airplay charts were the bread and butter of the operation, and in better times, labels would think nothing of spending several thousand dollars on an ad in the weekly magazine, which was a useful resource for just about everyone in radio and records. It covered many different formats in detail, and was the bible for many radio programmers, promotion directors, disc jockeys, and label folk.
The road to the magazine’s downfall was a gradual one. Firstly, as labels began to contract due to downsizing/illegal downloading, etc., they couldn’t necessarily afford to advertise at trade magazines as much. Secondly, less and less radio stations and more consolidation led to less subscriptions. Nielsen Media (the same guys that do TV ratings), went on a buying spree several years ago, buying VNU, the Dutch corporation that owned Billboard magazine and Billboard Radio Monitor, another radio trade magazine. Soon after, they acquired R&R, giving them a monopoly on radio trade magazines, and merged the two magazines. While this made sense from a business standpoint, it didn’t make so much sense from a financial standpoint, and the magazine was a money loser. It was several million dollars in debt when they folded.
On a personal level, I’m very saddened to write this post, as I worked at Billboard Radio Monitor for nearly five years as the rock editor, alongside some of the 40 staffers that lost their jobs today. Corporate media is in a tough spot right now, and it doesn’t seem like things are going to get better anytime soon. While it’s no secret that print journalism and radio are both declining, it doesn’t make this loss of an institution any easier of a pill to swallow. So long Billboard Radio Monitor/Rock Airplay Monitor/R&R. You’ll be missed.