Wednesday, September 15, 2004

"The second biggest media market in the country is radio hell." - cc

Yesderday, Eric Alterman posted a letter from Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture where he noted that, indeed, the death of radio continues apace. He cited a post over at TBP from July 20 on that topic, and there has been more news since (Barron's has looked into the phenomenon).

Some time ago we looked at the state of FM radio in Los Angeles, and it is dismal. Here is a rundown.

"Public Interest" frequencies: NPR, colleges
Spanish language
classic rock, oldies
Hip-hop, R&B

From LA Radio Listings and The Golden State Radio Guide, we get the following information about FM stations:

freq call letters owner format
88.1 KKJZ public, member-supported jazz
88.9 KXLU Loyola Marymount University College-oriented
89.3 KPCC NPR Pasadena Current events
89.9 KCRW NPR Santa Monica Current events; some music
90.7 KPFK Pacifica Current events; some music
91.5 KUSC NPR University So. Calif. Classical
92.3 KHHT Clear Channel "Forever Old Skool and Today's R&B"
93.1 KCBS Infinity Classic rock
93.5 KZAB SBS Spanish Tropical
93.9 KZLA Emmis Country
94.7 KTWV Infinity Smooth Jazz
95.5 KLOS ABC Classic rock
96.3 KXOL Spanish Broadcasting Corp. Spanish adult contemporary
96.7 KWIZ Liberman Spanish Cumbia
97.1 KLSX Infinity FM Talk (H. Stern)
97.5 unk unk Spanish
97.9 KLAX Spanish Broadcasting Corp. Regional Mexican
98.7 KYSR Clear Channel Modern adult contemporary
99.5 KKLA Salem Religious talk
100.3 KKBT Radio One Hip-hop, R&B
101.1 KRTH Infinity Oldies
101.9 KSCA Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. Regional Mexican
102.7 KIIS Clear Channel contemporary (B. Spears)
103.1 KDLD Entravision (joint sales agreement w/Clear Channel)* "indie" alternative
103.5 KOST Clear Channel Adult contemporary
103.9 KCRD Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. Spanish oldies
104.3 KBIG Clear Channel Hot adult contemporary
105.1 KMZT Saul Levine Classical
105.5 KPWR Emmis Hip-hop, R&B
106.7 KROQ Infinity Alternative
107.1 KSSE Entravision Spanish contemporary
107.5 KLVE Spanish Broadcasting Corp. Spanish adult contemporary

* Clear Channel can’t own Indie outright because it’s already at the Federal Communications Commission-imposed limit of seven stations in the LA basin.Clear Channel owns many stations throughout the Southern California region. Here is a list of AM stations they own:

570 KLAC Adult Standards
640 KFI Conservative talk (Limbaugh)
1150 KXTA Sports talk
1190 KXMX "ethnic"
1220 KIIS Contemporary (twin of KIIS-FM)
1290 KKDD Radio Disney (San Bernadino)
1350 KTDD Classic country (San Bernadino)
1450 KDIF Spanish (Riverside)

Back to the FM music stations. Stripping out Spanish-language, talk, hip-hop, classical, jazz, NPR, and classic rock, we get the following stations broadcasting contemporary music:

freq call letters owner format
98.7 KYSR Clear Channel Modern adult contemporary
102.7 KIIS Clear Channel contemporary (B. Spears)
103.1 KDLD Entravision (joint sales agreement w/Clear Channel)* "indie" alternative
103.5 KOST Clear Channel Adult contemporary
104.3 KBIG Clear Channel Hot adult contemporary
106.7 KROQ Infinity Alternative

Look at how Clear Channel dominates. Radio Hell indeed.

Also, it's interesting to note in the first table, the large number of stations devoted to Spanish music. That's understandable, considering the demographic changes taking place, but it's somewhat distressing that there hasn't been much assimilation. How else to explain the fact that one third of the FM music stations are Spanish language?

NOTE: There are some other low-wattage FM stations in the LA area, but they are not included since their range is limited. (Deciding factor: could our radio get the station?)

FINAL GRIPE: We have been listening to KROQ for many years and they have gotten steadily worse since their glory days in the early 80's. There is lots of talk now (mostly about sex). The days of two or three songs, back-announcing the artists, and then a couple commercials is long gone (everywhere, not just at KROQ).


While I might be revealing a little something about my age, I remember when FM was still playing entire albums, only breaking for commercials while changing sides of the LP. I'd say that it's been mostly downhill from there. These days my radio listening is confined to the car and at that usually NPR.

Without tightening up the regulations on ownership in a single market, I don't see any way that radio can make a comback. Perhaps not even then with satellite radio, MP3 players, etc.

By Blogger Charles Perez, at 9/15/2004 10:26 AM  

Just a snarky reminder (since you classify "smooth jazz" under jazz): "Smooth jazz" is just like jazz except

1) it doesn't swing

2) it takes no chances - all emotional content is drained in favor of a nondescript and inoffensive tone

3) it shows no evidence of actual jazz elements such as improvisation, humor, pathos, or the intentional quoting of other musical sources

-baked potato

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/15/2004 3:58 PM  

Anon: Yes, the "smooth jazz" station in LA is borderline New Age at times. But that's the description often given that kind of playlist.

By Blogger Quiddity, at 9/15/2004 8:57 PM  

Clear Channel Hurls Yet Another Ball of Shit.

By Blogger Gordon Smith, at 9/16/2004 4:24 PM  

Well it's brunch with The Beatles
And a tribute to Billy Joel
Four hours of Doobie Brothers
And they call that radio

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/16/2004 7:31 PM  

KROQ’s decline is a phenomenon hardly unique to LA ... CFNY, Toronto’s once legendary alt-station (really, you never quite knew what they'd play next) has never been the same since cleaning out a lot of the old DJs and spreading a rumor they were going to go classic rock as a way of making everyone who listened on both sides of the border grateful they stayed alternative ... even as they completely destroyed the station that inspired Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio” (their tagline back in their glory days).

By Blogger Sully, at 9/17/2004 7:18 AM  

I adored KROQ when I was a kid. I'll always remember where I was the first time I heard "Police Truck."

While I'm saddened to hear of KROQ's decline (I left L.A. in 1984), I'm not at all surprised.

By Blogger Tod, at 9/17/2004 7:25 PM  

Rock music is also in a pretty sorry state as well.... AM in LA is worse though... still can't get Al Franken.

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By Blogger Nosey, at 10/03/2005 6:51 PM  

“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
- Herman Melville

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/04/2005 11:06 AM  

Why so much spam here?

The point is, ClearChannel has a monopoly on the contemporary music radio market - and that ain't right!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/18/2006 8:29 PM  

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