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August 04, 2009


Jane Mitchell

AMEN to all of your points.

Bill Sepmeier

I think Radio's been entering this networked era since about 1990. It's the reason Jacor / Clear Channel bought (and kept) my former company, NSN Network Services. We were the folks who worked out digital MPEG localized-break, store and forward satellite networking and integrated automation for voice tracking, working with Tim Valley (Audisk) and ComStream, and we supplied Cliff Gardiner with the first such satellite systems in 1992-1993.

Of course, non-localized radio networking from Satellite Music Network and TranStar had been around for at least 6 or 7 years prior, utilizing 15kHz analog television subcarrier technology; each had a couple thousand full-time affiliate stations. Overnight talkers had Larry King via hi-fi satellite on Mutual even before that. If anyone saved AM, Larry showed them how back in the late 70's and early 80's.

But in retrospect, developing the model for the re-emergence of network radio which has evolved into what has taken over the industry today is not something I'm proud of. Today's localized-voice-tracked radio model is fatiguing tripe. Pandora, in my own opinion, beats any format in the broadcast arena... it plays what I want, when I want it and doesn't pretend to be human.

I saw the inside of a radio station at age 12 , during a 6th grade tour, and began working in radio when I was 14. The remarkable smell of years of stale cigarette smoke somehow soaked into and blended with old green pulp record shucks, the whispering of a thousand stations in an air monitor in a semi-dark studio suddenly 'chunked' into silence by starting the plates of an, even then, old Gates BC-1G at 4:30am ... the magic of sitting down in front of a well worn but rock-solid Gateway console; these are the memories of my first true love in this life.

Networking, as it was done in the 40's, was a process that involved thousands of talented people.

The live local radio that I grew up with in the 60's and 70's involved human beings and talent, too. Lots of them. Some were totally crazy - shoot, most of us were, probably - but radio was an entirely human powered venture. It was easy work, but hard to do well. It was spontaneous and fun and ... radio was all about being alive, for everyone, on both sides of the mic.

Today's digital voice-tracked networking; my 'baby,' conceived in 1988, born in 1992, which grew into a child raised by accountants and Wall Street, has grown up a mutant and one I wish I'd had the vision to abort.

Certainly someone else would have brought it to life, it was after all simply a reaction to the times and technology, but it wouldn't be on my conscious.

If today's digital voice tracked hard disk digital droning called networking is the only future for the industry, then may God help me for my part in helping drag it into the world.

Darryl Brown

Good article, Eric. Something that's been a reality for some time, though. It's a shame that it took total devastation for our business to wake up to the fact that talent wins ratings from wherever he\she sits, physically. It starts and ends there. And it's about TALENT not voices. Not readers. I would like to clear one thing up though. There will continue to be a proliferation of syndication not the old school network behemoth that we just missed as kids. Syndicated shows will break through if the personality is passionate about RADIO and how he\she communicates to their audience. Personalities who are big on name and short on message will not have marathon legs. I beg them to continue acting, writing, singing or preaching. I hope they continue doing what they do best. I hope that they only come into this business if they bring their hearts with them. We need commitment from every source possible in order to forge our new niche in mediaworld. We don't need short timers. We're witnessing what they can do to a business.

P.S. Syndication will continue to have an even greater impact on formats that cater to non-white consumers. I'm sure it was an oversight but is there any reason why there was no mention of that (or their respective personalities) in your article?

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