Maybe it’s different in your community. Maybe where you live there’s a diverse array of radio stations, each with distinctive programming visions, run by people motivated by nothing but their love of music and the possibilities of the medium.
But in my city we have three or four cookie-cutter formats for dozens of mindless stations clogging up the airwaves… which interestingly enough tend to be owned by a handful of broadcast conglomerates, the same corporate leviathans that also have concert promotion and the record industry in their synergetic clutches.
Wherever I go in North America, it’s as if these radio stations follow me. I mean, they’re identical. The same narrow, repetitive and dreary playlists, the same idiotic (not to mention jingoistic and sexist) DJ patter. A dime-store Marxist wanting to demonstrate that capitalist hegemony leads to a sterile cultural wasteland need only turn a couple dials…
As any online listener knows, it’s hard to overstate what an improvement internet radio represents. We all have our favorites (mine is WFMU) that provide us with the alternative sounds and voices that barely exist on the airwaves. But the real miracle that these stations perform is to allow passionate programmers to elevate the form into an art — usually on a shoestring, often commercial-free. The technology has scaled down to the point that world-wide reach is available to anyone. It’s one of those rare cases where the utopian promise of the net is close to being realized.
Simply put… THIS is the golden age of radio.
And it’s about to end. The same corporate weasels who ruined broadcast radio are determined to work their magic on the net. They’ve got their lapdogs in government ready to do their bidding.
One report suggests that stations currently paying about $1000 per year in royalties could see that rate jump to $1000 per day. Another article quotes an executive predicting “the Webcasting landscape will be a moonscape in six months.”