Hey Bob,


I am a communications major and I grew up in Harvey back in the 80's. I always listened to radio stations like Mix 95.7, Lite 105, and especially B-97! That was my favorite. My question is do you remember the name of the "dumb ass" who decided to make B-97 an all-talk format back in 1996? It was devastating. It hurt me so much 'cause I wanted to work for B-97 when I finished school and I still do want to work in New Orleans radio today. I think B-97 has never been the same since then. They need a New Orleans radio pioneer to give them a lesson.


Personally, I think that was the DUMBEST move anyone could make for a ratings giant!!! This person needs a good, swift kick in the head! I hope you know or can recall. Let me know ASAP Bob. I appreciate it!


Sincerely,

Jeremy ****

__________


Hey Jeremy,


Thanks for writing. It was a pleasure getting your email.


We all thought B-97 changing to talk when they were about #1 in the market was stupid too. And it was.


How did it happen? Following is my personal observation from the inside.




     First, lest I be accused of "sour grapes" for some reason, let me begin by noting that I was in radio for 41 years, mostly in afternoon drive with ratings that crushed competitors. I have held managerial positions in programming including Program Director, Sports Director, Music Director and Production Director. My efforts and accomplishments were recognized and rewarded in 1998, when I became the first DJ ever inducted into the Louisiana Music & Entertainment Hall Of Fame. I have met and worked with almost every major singer or group from the Rock & Roll era. In 1986 I felt a creative urge and launched my Publishing business on the side, which has done very well and allowed me to enjoy being on the air knowing I didn't have to depend on radio for my livelihood.


     So the observations I offer are not exactly from someone who just fell off the radio turnip truck. I offer you this as one who has "been there, done it all," on what was one of America's five most powerful and influential radio stations in its heyday, and one who happily retired from radio voluntarily in August 2006 when radio was no longer enjoyable...here's why:



     Before the government deregulated radio ownership in the 80's the rule was that no owner could have more than seven radio stations nationwide, and no more than one in a market. After deregulation, owners could have several stations in each market, and an unlimited number nationwide. Thus, by the 90's, the radio mega-corporations were born as they raced each other to buy as many radio stations as they could, paying local owners many inflated millions of dollars for their stations.


     Radio suddenly became a business of investors and venture capitalists, where previously stations were owned and operated by knowledgeable "radio people." And along with this buying frenzy came the new owners who were basically ignorant of radio and really didn't care as long as they could just sit on their investments and not worry about the uniqueness of the business.


     As their ignorance and greed multiplied we began to lose radio as we knew it, day by day.


     And along with the out-of-town corporations came the true Satans of the radio business that they brought with them...


     In radio, as in all other businesses owned and operated by out of town outfits today, there are snakes who are welcomed to slither into the picture. These snakes are called "consultants."


     There is an old saying: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, consult." How true.


     Consultants are the bullshit artists of the business. They are hired by investment property owners who know nothing about radio. These ignorant owners are easy prey for consultants, and welcomed by them.


     Once hired, the consultant has to do something to justify his paycheck. He has to have "a better way" even if the station is already hugely successful. So he will immediately be dissatisfied with air personnel and programming and implement "his way."


     Then, routinely, the station weakens. After a couple of years of damage, the consultant-snake takes his money and slithers on to another ignorant owner in another city, leaving his ignorance-induced damage behind. What does he care? He bullshitted them into a couple of years of a paycheck.


     I have never worked with one of these bullshit artists who first had a successful career behind the mike. And you can routinely back them into a corner if you know more about your market and its music than they do. But they barrage you with crap "statistics" as they sing the Siren's song to the owners.


     "Uhhh, we can't play "Crazy" by Patsy Cline...it didn't test well." I guess we should just forget that it's the most-played song on jukeboxes in history. And in private the 40'ish corporate OLDIES station consultant and Program Director would wonder "Who's Patsy Cline?" A-holts!


     We had one new consultant come in whom our new out-of-town management buffoons touted excitedly as an "oldies guru," at a time when our on-air staff were all New Orleanians and had around 125 cumulative years of on-air experience here in our home town.


     This "oldies guru" asshole from Seattle had never been to New Orleans, ever. He came to town and stayed for 36 hours and boasted he knew exactly what New Orleans oldie listeners wanted. This self-proclaimed instant authority on New Orleans from out-of-town told us he now wanted us to say on the air: " _____, with as much music as the French Quarter has beads!" Honest, he told us that with a straight face! Then he cut the playlist to 300 oldies, down from a library of 2,000. Appropriately, his initials were TP, which also stands for the Toilet Paper these consultant assholes have for brains.


     And, "music tests!" They herd 50 people into a room and base future radio programming on the opinions of these 50 people. But give me 50 other people in the next room and I could change the outcome by 180 degrees. Yet the results of the "music test" is law in the world of the snake oil salesmen consultants and ignorant bully imported Program Directors who roll into town and know it all from the first moment they arrive. A-holts!


     Radio used to be owned and operated by local families or groups who were sincerely "radio people." These owners were dedicated to local programming and involvement in their community.


     Now, and especially with the deregulation of radio station ownership which allows opportunistic mega-corporations to own about 40% of radio stations in any market, the entire business is run by investors who know little and care even less about the personalities and histories of local radio stations.


     To protect the investment and keep their stations just chugging along and nothing more, consultants are hired. These parasites run every one of their stations alike in every market they slither into.


     The consultants work hand-in-hand with opportunistic gypsy Program Directors, many of whom disguise their ignorance with intimidation tactics. They are brought in to replace other local Program Directors, many of whom are successful with their stations. But, to justify their existances, the consultant and imported Program Director have to mark their territory, like a male dog pissing on a fire hydrant and growling at those who question them.


     Many times a Program Director is brought in to simply "ride herd" on a format because there is no need for knowledge of that music. He's just a puppet of the consultant, who, in return, is doing only what all the other consultants do.


     Suddenly, DJ's are fired and are replaced by a computerized, out-of-town "Mr. Balls" with his deep voice who keeps telling you how great the station and its music are. Over and over. "Our station is great." "These songs are terrific." "It's FUN to listen to us!"


     On Oldies stations, previous playlists with a deep selection of many hundred hit titles are cut to 300-400 titles that get played over and over. "These tested well!"


     Let's see...from 1957 - 1973, 17 prime years for oldies, contained a total of 884 weeks. Allowing for a few repeats, let's say that during that period there were 600 songs that went to #1.


     Yet the consultants usually only program 300-400 titles. What about the other 200 #1 songs? What about the songs that only made it to #2 or #3? But, GAWLEE, what do you expect? Gomer, the 40 year old Oldies Radio Program Director from out-of-town, has never heard of most of dem songs!


     Thus, the consultant's crutch, the "music test," which is done occasionally in various cities. The scores are then studied. Then (surprise!) the result is that only the same songs used by most every other consultant in every other city get played.


     I've seen regional or local hits score in the top 10 in the test, yet the consultant allowed for "error" and bumped those titles out because he had no familiarity with the titles and their popularity in the market.


     A consultant will never stray from his "cookie cutter" zone of comfort, which he shares with other consultants. Therefore, you hear "Mr. Balls" trumpeting the same worn-out titles over and over, everywhere you go, in every city.


     Contemporary radio at least gets new and fresh titles every week to be played over and over (usually in a monotonous 30 song playlist!). But, in dealing with basically dead product, the success and longevity of Oldies Radio lies in a deep selection. However, due to their limited knowledge, consultants and Program Directors resort to hype and crap contests, hoping the listeners are ignorant enough to not notice the same old songs being played over and over.


     And...if you haven't noticed, stations are using the computerized "Mr. Balls" more and more, as they get rid of the familiar DJ's. Live DJ's are quietly disappearing in the midst of the corporate greed and plunder of stations and cities.


     In the near future the only air shift that will be live will be Morning Drive...and what a dreadful selection of cornballs, endorsement whores, hustlers and garbage mouths there is to choose from. But the corporate owners and their oily consultants will have saved money while changing the face of radio forever.


     Hey, what do the corporate owners and their slimy consultants care about radio the way you've known it and loved it thru the years? They just buy a station, cut it to the bone, fire as much help as they can, ruin the format, plunder whatever money they can out of it with no regard to the station itself, then sell and move on.


     And the tragic part is that the station is then bought by another bloodsucking corporation that does the same thing all over again. They keep squeezing the turnip while making asses out of the local listeners.




THE FUTURE IS UP TO YOU . . .



     Written and telephone polls of listeners are the lifeblood that keeps these vampires alive.


     Many times you are asked to keep diaries, detailing your radio listening periods for a week or two. And all the while the corporate radio stations are manipulating you to help them get rich from increased ratings. Listen and realize what you're hearing.


     "If anyone should ask, tell them your favorite radio station is (name)," they bellow, hoping to hypnotize you into doing their bidding and using you to help them get richer.


     Remember, these are the same bastards who helped kill radio as you liked it.


     Listen to your own CD's. Forget the hype and listener manipulation of bland corporate radio as they use you to get richer while ruining your hometown radio.


     I hope the day comes soon when wireless receivers will be able to play the thousands of independent music programs that are available on the internet. Not the internet broadcasts of existing radio stations, all of which play the same few worn-out consultant-driven titles, regardless of format...but rather the shows produced by music lovers who are sick of being force-fed corporate and consultant radio.


     In the past, working on a powerhouse like WTIX, if we heard a new song that we thought was a hit, we played it! The result was that we displayed almost 100 gold records on the walls for being the first station to play songs that went on to be major hits.


     These days I am asked by well-known local and national artists who they can give their new CD to, in order to have a cut or two considered for airplay.


     I have to tell them all "I don't know anymore." I have no idea how a new song breaks into the corporate-consultant snake circle of songs selected for airplay.


     It's a circle of sheep following other sheep around and around, not a one with balls of their own.




SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SHOW YOUR DISPLEASURE?




     1.) TURN OFF the radio and the same few worn-out songs over and over that they arrogantly force you to listen to...


     2.) Listen to your CD's instead...


     3.) If you DO listen to radio, DO NOT report it to the ratings services...


     4.) Throw your listening diary away along with the 50 cents they offer you for listening for two weeks...



     Remember, as long as you listen to radio and report those stations, nothing will ever change.


     You have too many alternate choices now to allow yourself to be raped by these smiling corporate radio pigs who use you to line their pocketbooks.



Screw the arrogant out of town corporations...

Hit the bastards where it hurts...

in the ratings and in the pocketbook...

and get rid of them.


DON'T LISTEN / DON'T REPORT!


WHY RADIO TODAY SOUNDS SO BAD

... and what YOU can do about it!

MY OPINION FROM BEHIND THE MIKE

by Bob Walker

Inspired by an e-mail from Jeremy in 2001

"Online since 1999"

Bob

Walker's