Thursday, February 21, 2008

Radio Columnists a Dying Breed in Print Journalism

The Infinite Dial's Sean Ross did a piece this week about how radio news is rarely covered in the media these days. He praises the radio columnists that still exist (like Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times), but worries about a time when radio will not be covered at all. He writes:

" was gratifying during the '90s to see daily newspaper coverage of radio proliferate in many markets. Much of the coverage, of course, was frustrating -- people who clearly didn't like radio in the first place and were now determined to make PDs pay for their failure to play enough (insert name of obscure critical favorite here). But the increased coverage also reinforced the notion of radio as a major medium and if broadcasters didn't take sufficient advantage of it, you can't blame the messenger. So with newspapers, facing their own financial travails, continue to thin their workforces, you have to wonder what's going to happen to media coverage, and radio in particular. Writers who cover radio as a beat -- even the avenging angel rock critics -- generally have a better, more informed take on the industry."

Ben Fong-Torres writes about radio every other week in his San Francisco Chronicle column Radio Waves, which is great to see...but what I miss is more than a passing mention of non-commercial stations, in particular college stations. When Brad Kava was with the San Jose Mercury News he actually wrote profiles of college radio DJs in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was nice recognition that talented, long-time successful DJs aren't necessarily on commercial stations. I haven't read the San Jose Mercury in awhile and just learned that Brad Kava's radio column and blog is no longer there (as of 2007). He's now got his own radio blog Kava's Radio Soup and in his inaugural post in July 2007 he explains the plight of dying radio coverage in print:

"You can no longer get radio news from a boring grey newspaper. Now, you have to get the scoop from Kava's radio soup. Glad you found it. This will be a place to read news, opinions and comments from radio listeners and station staffs, all unfiltered through the dull, lifeless and characterless editors that made you stop reading newspapers in the first place."

Ouch. But true. Many of the intriguing bits that I've been finding about radio lately have been online, granted that's mainly because I'm accessing coverage from around the world, from websites, from blogs, and from smaller local and college papers.

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