On the way back from my quarterly visit to Ultimate Tire & Car Care in downtown Nashville this morning, I listened to Fred Buc’s “Retro Lightning” show on Lightning 100. I realized how thankful I am for the medium and technology of terrestrial radio.

Upon startup, I was greeted by Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” This gorgeous song wasn’t emanating from a CD or my iPod, Fred had picked it. Amazing choice for a 2010 April morning, 43 years after the song’s release.

Whether you’re a big radio person or not, radio impacts us. It’s still a primary music introducer, despite the fact that most stations do a terrible job of telling you who you just heard. There are still fantastic radio stations out there like Lightning 100, who one minute may play Procol Harum, and the next, The Swell Season. It can be a fantastic experience; yes, even with those 5-song playlist stations.

Radio plays a significant role in creating stars. If your goal is mass appeal, good luck without radio.

Next time you find yourself bashing radio, and how much it sucks today, just turn it off or tune in to Lightning 100 (from anywhere in the world).

My only hope is that our radio friends start to compensate (very soon) that which keeps them in business.


2 thoughts on “Radio

  1. John,
    well said, but for the record, the DJ is generally not allowed to do the artist/title all the time anymore. They are doing what they are told by PDs and Consultants who are supposed to know what people want from all their market and audience research…. According to the experts, if DJs tell every title and artist, it is perceived as “talking too much” so they err on the side of caution. Not saying it is right (or wrong) but just saying do not kill the messenger. Blame the ones who are in charge of that decision.

    As to compensating those who keep them in business (assuming this was a jab at the Artist royalty issue), you said it best when you said that Radio is still best at creating stars, and introducing music to the masses. What is that worth?

    I say it is worth a lot, and record companies know it. Otherwise there would not be whole divisions of record companies with staffs and big budgets just to contact/sell/convince/encourage radio stations to play their songs… So is it possible that the $$ amount of the value of that airplay exposure is equal to (maybe greater than) the $$ amount of the value of us getting to play it? Is that possible? I think it is certainly possible.

    Or better yet, if radio should have to pay to play the songs, then maybe record companies or artists should have to pay for radio airplay. Then we would see just how equal the value is (which you know would not be… airplay would be much more costly.)

    You and I can’t solve this problem, but wanted to at least give you something to think about.


    • Gordon, hey man. First and foremost, I really appreciate you reading and taking the time to leave a comment like this.

      Good call on the DJ part. I changed that immediately to just say stations instead of DJs.

      Yes, I work at a record label. Full disclosure on that. This is also my personal blog (not representative of my job at all).

      Believe it or not, I really went back and forth for a long time about the performance rights act. Only recently have I decided to (personally) go all in on it, hence I’m just now bringing it up on this blog.

      Either way, it’s a tough call. No question about it.

      Radio stations without music? To me, that’s where it starts. How would the majority of stations fill their time if they didn’t have music to play?

      And how about the fact that all non-terrestrial radio outlets do pay a performance royalty? I realize their reach isn’t as large as terrestrial radio, but to me, that’s all the more reason that terrestrial should share in the profits with the very artist that’s keeping the listener tuned in (and coming back) in the first place.

      I totally get what you’re saying about the value of radio. There is no question that radio is extremely important to the music industry (not just the record labels). In no way am I ignoring that.

      This is more about precedent at this point. When every other country does pay a performance royalty except the U.S., there is a problem. And because of our country’s current stance on it, U.S.-based artists are not allowed to receive performance royalties from other countries.

      I realize terrestrial radio’s business model would be dramatically impacted by this change, and that’s the only thing that held me back from making a clear decision on this topic for so long. But this should have been in place a long time ago. It needs to be changed.

      Thanks again for reading, and I look forward to hearing further from you.


      John Clore

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