Radio's last stand
Rachel Gordon on air during the Big Room concert at CD102.5 in Columbus, Ohio.
May 17th, 2013
08:36 AM ET

Radio's last stand

By Gavin Godfrey, CNN

Columbus, Ohio (CNN) - Columbus, Ohio's WWCD-FM is a throwback. It's one of just a handful of independent, major-market commercial music stations left in America.

If the state of radio in the country seems bleak, that's not something you can sense when speaking to the staff at WWCD, dubbed, "The Alternative Station."

I traveled with CNN.com writer Todd Leopold for his story on the state of commercial music radio in the United States and we wanted to capture a day in the life of one the last truly unique stations left.

From the on-air talent and sales folks to the station's president and general manager, Randy Malloy, the message at WWCD is clear:

[:31] "I put a very cognizant plan in place to express to the world that, 'Hey we're here and we're not going anywhere!'"

DJ Brian Phillips started at the station in 1994, then left, and then returned a few years. He explains why WWCD has been able to survive  by playing by their own rules and not being phased by industry trends:

[6:14] "There are Top-40 stations - they'll play their tightest rotating songs once an hour. That's insane to me! Yet, that's the way the industry thinks: 'Play the hits! Shut up and play the hits!' What we're trying to do is just play cool music for people who dig this kind of music."

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Filed under: Culture • Entertainment • Media • Soundwaves • Stories
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. tu

    where may i have tapescripts of them?tk so much if some one can help me.

    May 23, 2013 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Stephen Hawkins

    The 1996 rewrite of the Telecommunications Act was the near
    death blow to radio.  Radio was already getting pretty boring, but letting 4
    companies own most of the radio stations, and to automate boredom was
    criminal.  Tuning across the radio dial it sounds as if there are only 4 or 5
    stations, cloned, and repeated across the dial.  They all play the same tiny
    group of songs over and over.  Boring.

    -Radio used to be the town crier, especially in smaller towns.  No more.  The
    voice you hear is on a computer in NY or someplace in LA.  Stations rarely
    have a connection with their market.  They talk at you, not to you.

    -Radio used to have, through smaller stations, a farm team for growing talent.  
    No more.

    -Each station had it's own team of DJ's doing their imaginative, creative,
    best to get you to listen them.  Competition bred some great radio. No more

    -I used to find out about new music to buy, by listening to the radio.  DJ's,
    at least on the stations I listened to, had more freedom to play what ever
    they wanted.  No more.  I have not heard the music I buy, and listen to at
    home, played on any radio station in years.   If I was a musician I would
    hate this.  How would they know to buy my music, if it NEVER gets played on
    the radio?  As a listener, I'm leaving for IP radio where I can hear what I
    want, instead of what some marketing guy in New York thinks I want.

    -The NAB seems to believe that going digital, and having CD quality sound will
    save them. IBOC. I think not.  As we say in the computer industry, "Garbage
    in, garbage out"  Digital boredom will be just as boring as Analog boredom.

    A local oldies radio station with a small boring playlist did something
    interesting to mark the new year.  They played every song in their library,
    in alphabetical order from A to Z.  It was great.  It took them almost 2 weeks
    to get through it once.  We heard great stuff we had not heard in years.  I
    called them up and told them to keep it up.  I told them that for the first
    time in a long time they were interesting.  No.  They did it two times then
    back to the same boring playlist.  Before I stopped listening I could nearly
    tell you what song was going to come up next.

    Their answer to me was that they played what most people wanted to hear.  
    Instead I think that they try to come up with a list that everyone can find
    one or two songs they like.  The reverse of that is that we won't like the
    majority of what gets played.

    I have grown up with radio and believe it to be a wonderful medium.  But I
    believe short sightedness will kill it.

    I believe that in the future most talk radio will move to the Internet.  AM
    stations may become glorified TIS stations, promoting local
    businesses or attractions. Many, unable to do anything other then follow
    someones stock formula, will be unable to make money, and will go dark.

    The growth of IP based radio will mean that even small, specialized
    audiences can be more easily (and cheaply) served with other technology.
    "Broadcasting" in the current sense is in it's last days.

    Another factor that will help kill radio as it is today is the fact that
    broadcasters ignore the largest segment of the population.   I am on the
    leading edge of the baby boomers.  At this point in my life my income is
    greater then it has ever been, my home is paid for, my kids are grown and on
    their own.  I have 2 fat IRAs tucked away for retirement.  What this means is
    that I have more disposable income then at any point in my life.  You would
    think that broadcasters and advertisers would want some of it.  From
    listening to the radio, I guess not.

    From a man who loves radio and is being driven away,

    May 18, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • truesinger

      Thank you for a truly eloquent post and analysis of the situation. I, too, have always been a lover of good radio, and I grew up with a family who listened to classical and popular music as well as news and so on.
      It is very sad that things have gone the way you describe.

      May 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. milwaukeesmagic

    Radio will only die if the entire world wants it to.

    May 17, 2013 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |