Now more than ever, it’s a tough time to be in the radio business. In between smart phones, satellite radio and the internet, it’s easier than ever for music fans to get their fix elsewhere. And while the majority of people still listen to radio more than any other medium, there’s been a lot of tuning out. And if you live in a small to medium-sized radio market and still listen, you might want to get ready for a lot of the local flavor of your radio station to disappear, if it hasn’t already. Clear Channel, a major corporation that operates over 800 radio stations, laid off a number of local DJ’s believed to be in the ‘hundreds.’
“We’ve completely rethought our regional market strategy and reinvented our operations in those markets in a way that will let us compete on a new level — and succeed using all of Clear Channel’s resources, scale and talent,” the New York Times reports company spokesperson Wendy Goldberg as saying. Translation: get ready for syndicated shows that are voicetracked in major cities and say goodbye to local DJs, some of whom have been at radio stations for years. Goldberg says that those syndicated jocks will be cutting local liners and breaks so it appears that they’re in the markets, but they obviously won’t be. She also maintains that content will be more localized than it was before. I can’t imagine how that could be the case. A local DJ knows their city inside and out, has formed a bond with their listeners, and can be seen at local events. That’s not the case for someone that’s never even been to the town. And even those stations that are keeping talent, look for voice-tracking to occur. One DJ in the Times article was doubling as the morning host and pre-recording the afternoon show at the same station. Granted, if you’re not a discerning listener, you probably won’t even be able to tell the difference, but that’s a lot of DJs that are out of jobs.
And while this is a cost-cutting move that makes sense for Clear Channel’s bottom line, it’s not the only place where cuts are taking place. Cumulus Media, who recently took over smaller company Citadel Broadcasting, announced layoffs in New York and Los Angeles. Among those impacted were Jim Ladd, the longtime personality at classic rock station KLOS that inspired Tom Petty’s song “The Last DJ.”
Granted, this doesn’t really effect metal that much. However, one of the only places to hear metal on the radio is from local hosts that do one or two hour shows on the weekends. College radio is still the best place to hear underground music, much of it metal. But it’s a shame to see generic, non-local programming take over radio and give more people a reason to tune out.