The Further Decline Of Commercial Radio

The Further Decline Of Commercial Radio

The recent “Royal Prank” episode of 2DayFM in Sydney is just the most recent scandal in current spate, mostly coming out of Sydney. Kyle Sandilands, Alan Jones and now Michael Christian and Mel Grieg – why are these radio hosts and their employers resorting to creating scandal after scandal?

Because it works.

Every time one of these hosts says or does something to outrage people, we see the same old process:

1. There’s lots of hype in the news media about it – not because it is news per se, but because a artificial scandal makes it easier for “news” organisations in Australia to fill up airtime or column inches than actually having to commit acts of journalism. As we all know, there are hardly any journalists actually working for news organisations any more in this country, but anyone can rent their garments and decry acts of bad taste. A scandal pulls in eyeballs and that means more money for the “news” organisation without actually having to do any real “news” work. Total win.

2. The stations and the hosts involved either claim they don’t know what all the fuss is about or put on a false act of contrition. The host is pulled off the air for a day or two. Advertising is pulled from the show for a few days. Station management claims the host will be counselled (while I suspect they are quietly all popping champagne corks in the backrooms).

3. Finally, the show goes back on the air and is rewarded with a ratings bump, which means more listeners, which means more advertising dollars. Everyone wins.

Thank you, capitalism. The idiocracy rules. To keep the public’s attention, radio needs to pull stupider and stupider stunts.

Let’s look at the data.

After Alan Jones’s most recent scandal, the comment about Gillard’s father, his show actually increased its lead. And his lead has continued to increase since then.

Kyle Sandilands’ much maligned show continues to perform well, although apparently Kyle & Jackie O’s show has taken a small rating slide of late, so expect another “scandal” from him, as soon as this whole royal affair has blown over.

The recent scandal-created suicide is a tragic outcome to this marketing tactic. Of course, the corporate media who bleated about it incessantly for the first couple of days haven’t taken any responsibility for the tragic denouement. It’s almost as if they had absolutely no involvement in the story blowing up.

What can we do about it? Is more media regulation the answer? It wouldn’t hurt. But the real answer is STOP LISTENING TO COMMERCIAL RADIO. Listen to podcasts. If you MUST listen to radio, listen to the ABC or Triple J.

I haven’t listened to radio for close to a decade. My life is much better off as a result. Commercial media can only continue to plumb the depths of idiocy while people keep listening to them. I seriously don’t understand what value people get our of radio in 2012. In an era of ubiquitous iPhones and podcasts and Spotify, radio is, more than ever, a dinosaur. I know I’ve been predicting the imminent demise of radio for a long time, but seriously…. what is wrong with people?? I really don’t understand how people put up with the ads. After ten years with no ads (I don’t have a TV either), they drive me nuts when I accidentally hear one. How do people allow their brain to be constantly polluted with that shit?