Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Another Radio Column Bites the Dust

I was just catching up with Ben Fong-Torres' most recent "Radio Waves" column (still alive and well!) in the San Francisco Chronicle, in which he does a follow-up to the piece that he wrote about listener perceptions about how frequently certain songs are played. In last Sunday's column he mentions that some readers wrote in with suggestions for stations that do play more diverse playlists, including KPIG and College of San Mateo's public radio jazz station KCSM-FM.

Additionally, Fong-Torres discusses the demise of the Washington Post radio column written by Marc Fisher, saying:

"Marc Fisher
, author of a recent book on the (mostly sad) state of radio, 'Something in the Air,' also wrote a radio column for the Washington Post on and off for 15 years. No more. The newspaper ended regular coverage of radio early this month, and Fisher signed off with a heartfelt lament for the industry.

In the face of new technology, he wrote, 'I find a business and an art form in trouble: Just when radio cries out for creative revival, it is instead slipping into a disgruntled decline.'"

Marc Fisher's final "The Listener" column from June 1, 2008 is definitely worth a read. Fisher writes:

"The challenge for all media now is to find a path back to mass, while retaining as much as possible of the freedom and access that the infinite range of the Internet promises.

The programming on the radio these days does not light a way toward that goal. Music radio seems superfluous -- a selection of tunes nowhere near as varied as what iPod users choose for themselves, and without the added value that knowledgeable and entertaining DJs once provided."

Indeed this is true of mainstream radio, but I think that the best college and community radio stations do provide more musical variety than commercial radio and the typical iPod. And, the music-obsessed DJs who have the freedom to create beautifully crafted, curated playlists are still my heroes.

On the Washington Post website, you can read more installments of Fisher's now defunct "The Listener" column. It's sad to see radio coverage dwindling in local papers. Is local radio written about where you live? Let me know if you have suggestions about other radio columns that I should be reading.

1 comment:

Marc Fisher said...

Thanks very much for the kind words about my column. I plan to continue to write about radio from time to time in my blog and elsewhere on, but as I said in that last column, I think radio has effectively pushed itself out of the public's consciousness to such an extent that a weekly column on the medium is no longer justified.