It’s around 7:20 AM and just like any other morning I hope into my car, turn the key and the radio comes on. As always while getting situated, the sounds coming out of the speakers don’t register as intelligible at first. A few seconds pass and I recognize what is going on; a phone prank. Not being a fan of this "ageless" gag, I tune to another station for relief. A few minutes later and it starts again but with different voices. On to station number 3 and they are giving a recap of a phone prank I thankfully missed earlier. WTF?
After enough of the Hip Hip and Top 40 stations I move to the R&B stations hoping for relief. Hopefully the more mature DJ’s can bring a more serious tone to my day but alas not. The buffoonery is more intense so that it lacks the taste and is only mildly amusing. Is this the humor of the older generation or is it a left over of different times when we were to be mocked rather than treated as equals? Whatever it is, it is not something that I can tolerate for too long. And did I mention that some of them also do phone pranks?
What happened to radio? When did it become so devoid of originality? As one of my friends put it, the radio is like a tape stuck on replay (or a playlist on replay for those of you that don’t get the reference). Ever since the radio companies were bought by parent companies (ClearChannel, Radio-One,…) they have become franchises serving the same menu across the country.
Gone is the local flavor that made us tune in. No more does the local artist get his first break to be heard. Playlists are distributed to all stations and re-run throughout the day to push the latest release. Payola may not be a published practice but it is clear that it is being masked in some way. How else can you hear the same songs every hour during peak listening times (rush hour and 8 to 10).
With the advent of digital music devices, radio is now in trouble. Once HDRadio is put into play, I believe that radio will vanish completely. Radio must evolve or rather revert back to it’s roots to survive. Bing back the local influence that once ruled the airways. Let the listening audience dictate the playlists and play a broader variety of songs. There has been too much music created to only play the same 34 minutes of music throughout the day. This one is for you Radio Raheem!