Thursday, April 28, 2005

...But it won't lie down!

I howl in pain rather regularly about the demise of rock on the radio (and thus my exposure to new stuff, leading to the downward spiral - no NIN pun intended).

But, even the New York Times has noticed. (Registration required, so see excerpts below.)

Excerpts from:
"Fade-Out: New Rock Is Passe on Radio"
April 28, 2005, NYT
By Jeff Leeds

Major radio companies are abandoning rock music so quickly lately that sometimes their own employees don't know it.

In the last four months, radio executives have switched the formats of four modern-rock, or alternative, stations in big media markets, including WHFS in Washington-Baltimore area, WPLY in Philadelphia and the year-old KRQI in Seattle. Earlier this month WXRK in New York discarded most newer songs in favor of a playlist laden with rock stars from the 80's and 90's.

Music executives say the lack of true stars today is partly the reason. Since rap-rock acts like Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit retreated from the scene, none of the heralded bands from recent rock movements, be it garage-rock (the Strokes, the Vines) or emo (Dashboard Confessional, Thursday), connected with radio listeners or CD buyers the way their predecessors did. [Yahmdallah comment: Because most of them suck as they are the kind of bands rock critics listen to, but not fans. Which just proves one of my saws, rock critics killed the radio star.]

Ratings for rock radio stations have been languishing for years. The share of the 18-to-34 age group that is tuning in to alternative stations has shrunk by more than 20 percent in the last five years, according to Arbitron, while stations playing rap and R&B or Spanish-language formats have enjoyed an expanding audience.

As a result, many rock programmers aren't sure what to play.

"The format in the last couple of years has gone through an identity crisis," said Kevin Weatherly, program director of KROQ, a closely watched alternative powerhouse in Los Angeles. "You have stations that are too cool, that move too quickly and are only playing the coolest music, which doesn't at the end of the day attract enough of the audience. Or you have the other extreme, dumb rock, red-state rock that the cool kids just flat out aren't into." [Yahmdallah comment: So mix it up like you used to, shitheads!]

"The people that are leading-edge technology consumers are not being embraced by terrestrial radio," said Jim McGuinn, who was program director of WPLY in Philadelphia, known as Y100, before its corporate parent, Radio One, flipped the station to rap and R&B in February. "The outsider image disappeared," Mr. McGuinn said.

Mr. McGuinn and a handful of other former WPLY employees have started an Internet radio station,, to play music they say the terrestrial version had been missing, including songs by Interpol, Moby and Queens of the Stone Age. [Yahmdallah comment: Listened to the y100rocks web broadcast, and it's pretty good!]

But for now, Philadelphia has no terrestrial alternative-rock station. [Yahmdallah comment: I tried not to weep openly when I read that sentence.]

Some analysts fear that, when radio stations switch from alternative rock to programming aimed at older listeners, they may be making a sacrifice. "Radio has ceded the younger demographic to other media," said Fred Jacobs, president of Jacobs Media, a radio consulting company in Southfield, Mich., specializing in rock. "I just don't know how we're going to get back people who didn't get into the radio habit in their teens," he said, adding, "It really becomes problematic down the road."

{Heavy sigh.}


Sya said...

Blech. I don't listen to radio any more--they play the same thing over and over again anyway. I find that stations on the net are much better.

Yahmdallah said...

I'm beginning to discover that. I'm just bummed that I have to be confined to prerecorded music in my car.

It'll be interesting to see what happens when the bottom finally drops out of radio. It's coming, that's for sure.