Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Foggy Radio
Matt Seinberg

As I was driving home from work on the wet and foggy parkway, listening to the home of New York’s new country radio station, 94.7 WNSH-FM, NASH-FM, I started thinking once again how the internet, computers, large corporations and the government have screwed up radio broadcasting.

Radio is no longer the live and local business and entertainment source it once was. It is now global, with large corporations controlling the purse strings, programming and their employee’s livelihoods.

Right now, NASH-FM has two live and local DJ’s, Kelly Ford doing mid-days 10 AM-3 PM and Jesse Addy from 3-7 PM. Kelly did mornings for 20 years in Denver, so why wasn’t she given the morning show.

The question has also come up about the moniker, NASH-FM. Why didn’t they call it Nashville-FM, or Nashville Radio? When I think of Nash, I think of the old Don Johnson TV series, “Nash Bridges,” not a country radio station. 

Branding is so important, and Cumulus has done an awful job with 94.7. There have been no TV ads promoting the station, and other than Facebook and Twitter, how would a country fan know that there is now a country radio station in New York for the first time in 7 years?

Sure, they are doing lots of on air promotions, but how would anyone know that if they were not already listening to the station? Word of mouth certainly isn’t going to get them stellar ratings. I believe that Cumulus is trying to build a national, rather than a local brand.

That means any live and local morning show on their country radio stations is replaceable by a national personality like Blair Garner or someone that’s already in the Cumulus stable.

Years ago, Lisa Taylor worked at WHTZ-FM/Z100 and WYNY-FM doing many different shifts. Today she is the morning co-host at The KPLX-FM/99.5, "The Wolf," in Dallas, TX. I could see her doing a syndicated show because of her experience.

Speculation is rampant that syndicated host Blair Garner is going to do mornings for all the Cumulus country stations live from Nashville. The rub is that he is currently doing another syndicated show for Premiere Radio Networks, “After Midnight with Blair Garner.” Guess who owns Premiere. Clear Channel owns Premiere.

I was talking to my long-time friend, Allen Beebe, the other day, and he told me how Clear Channel tried to screw him out of part of his severance package when it released him, at the end of 2011.

Instead of reporting the beginning of his severance pay as such, Clear Channel reported it as unused vacation pay, which counts towards the waiting period before starting unemployment compensation. Naturally, Beebe had to fight this, and had all the documentation needed to prove that he was correct. Unfortunately, he had to wait about nine weeks to receive the money owed from unemployment.

It turned out that CC did this to many other former employees, and who can afford to wait any amount of time for money when there is nothing else coming in? I asked Beebe why this happened, and there really is no clear answer; pun intended.

My speculation is CC likes to screw employees over, and some bean counter in San Antonio, TX, where the CC headquarters is, thought he might save the company some money with that little stunt. I’m sure he later choked on those little beans.

On 16 May 2013, legendary radio programmer Paul Drew passed away. He was one of the architects of RKO Radio, which owned WRKO-AM, in Boston, WXLO-FM 99X, in New York City, WHBQ-AM, in Memphis, KHJ-AM, in Los Angeles and CKLW-AM, in Windsor, Ontario.

Everything I have read about him said the same thing; although he was a tough boss, he was also fair, and nurtured the talent that worked for him to become better than they thought they could be. While they trembled when the hotline phone rang, they were grateful for the criticism he gave.

Today, there are no more programmers like Paul Drew. As Bill Drake, before him, he was of a bygone era of radio programming that unfortunately will never come back again.

Radio is a fallow field of repetition, with the same jingles, liners and music coming out of our speakers. Don’t these large radio companies realize that with all the ways music delivers today, that they must be more compelling than a jukebox?

DJs were our friends and need to be again. The only way radio can survive is  live and local, not recorded and boring. I think if someone asked Paul Drew about the state of radio, today, he’d shake his head in disgust, and wouldn’t say anything else.

Our musical choices are many, including Pandora, Rdio, Slacker, iTunes, Google All Access, Amazon Cloud Player and hundreds, if not thousands of internet only radio stations. Terrestrial radio had better realize what’s going on, before it’s too late, and the transmitters shut down forever.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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