Sunday, January 18, 2009

Who Killed Independent Radio?

By Allen Bacon, Editor, The Daily Bosco

The last independent radio station in the Los Angeles area is off the terrestial airwaves. It happened this week.

Indie 103.1 announced they are moving solely to the internet effective immediately. Right now a continuous loop of music plays in it's spot.

This was inevitable. Many of us, who have been around for awhile, knew it was only a matter of time.

And these are the murderers of independent radio (not particularly in this order):

Low Radio Signal. This station was not easy to listen to...even in it's supposedly strong listening area like Orange County. I personally, could only take so much of the signal fading in and out. Then I tried listening to it in LA...same problem. It's annoying to try to listen to a faded signal.

Young demographic who doesn't yet have enough disposable income to spend money on advertiser's products. Why would I, as an advertiser, want to invest money on advertising spaces for people who don't have the money to buy my product?

MP3 Players. With my mp3 player, I have my own personal radio station and I get to listen to what I want to listen to. Talk about independent radio.

The Internet There's already a bunch of great independent radio stations on the internet like killradio. Link through my I-phone and woo-lah I can listen anywhere. And websites like help tailor-make your own radio your tastes.

Indie 103.1 is now solely on the internet. They say that they did this for the freedom it avails them. I say the real reason is that they can't afford...or nobody can, for that matter...afford to run an independent radio station over the air anymore.

It's like anything else in Southern California...we have so much stuff coming at us from different directions, it was hard to pay attention to a little radio station that sounded like it operated out of a closet.

1 comment:

Doug Vehle said...

Dang, I'd love to buy that frequency. Never mind the walkin closet, I'd run it out of a live theatre. Wouldn't need to make money at either one at this point, I could just put on more and more shows. For as long as my repertory company was willing to produce shows at below card rates, and advertisers were willing to pay SOMETHING for the avails. I'll take a low power TV station too, maybe Channel 38, which comes in pretty good in LA County, and all these people would be getting sort of paid to have an opportunity to do these things for the sheer love of it all. . . .

But who am I kidding? This is America, NOBODY does aything out of the sheer love of it very long. Soon there would be individuals in AFTRA lobbying in every committee meeting to force "GAINS" (The word they would use) out of what my broadcasting efforts were paying, and it wouldn't matter that there was no money to pay out these raises. And others would go along. When the stations closed, the instigators would point the finger every which way but at themselves, which is where the blame would really rest.

Ad sales isn't as simple as people think, and a little station like this one has trouble retaining any rep who succeeds at selling; there's more money to be made elsewhere.

I never really listened to that station, I don't know if they were any good or not. But I'm sure, like most failed operators, they claim they were just too GOOD to make it in this world. But I'll tell you what. Having a career that has a foot in the entertainment world, I can tell you that while people are always saying they were just too eclectic AFTER they fail, they sure were claiming to be mainstream and commercial when they started. And the truth, in fact, is that they were only doing what they -personally - liked, and didn't much care how others might relate to it. And there is absolutely NO money in doing that.

It's rare to find someone like Jim Ladd. I don't really believe he loves every piece of music he plays. I DO believe he loves the idea of playing even something that he hates on the chance that you will hear it for the first time and get the chance to decide for yourself. Or you may already love it and he's giving you the unique opportunity to have it offered centerstage no matter how much everyone else hates it. To a guy like Jim Ladd, that is the true love of his job.

Yeah, I think Jim Ladd should work at a station with a name like 'Indie 103.1.' But he wouldn't do it: The money wouldn't be there, and nobody does it for the sheer love of it very long.

Funny, though, I never got rich working. Investments are carrying me through as work has trailed off. And yeah, I wish I COULD go back to it, for the love of it all.

(Was posting a MLK response as my AOL crashed, maybe I'll rewrite it later.)