Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bring On the Fairness Doctrine!

So I'm in my Jeep, driving to the local Kwik-E-Mart to grab the Sunday papers, and I turn the radio to WHTG/106.3, an indie-rock station based out in Eatontown, New Jersey. The only true "alternative" remaining on my Central Jersey FM dial, Sunday mornings are always classic, with an '80's era "Breakfast Club" theme or alternative acoustic classics.

But not today.

I hit the volume, and what to I get? Kelly Clarkson! Irony, kitsch, camp - I tell myself frantically, wating for the next song to reveal the joke.....

No. Didn't recognize it, but it had lots of shrieking girls, a thumping dance beat, and lyrics that seemed to include "baby, baby" over and over again.

My worst fears were realized when the electronic DJ informed me I was now listening to"Hits106", with more top-40 hits on the way!

I turned off the radio, and nearly had to pull over on Route 9 South, so overwrought was I that overnight, I had lost my best friend on the radio, never to return, with not even a chance to say a final good-bye....

The ownership blamed
its lazy fans for its failure to pull sufficient ratings:

While we know that G-Rock had a wide audience, unfortunately our extensive research shows this same audience is often reluctant to fill out Arbitron diaries so that we can get proper credit for the associated ratings,'' said McAllen in the letter, posted on the radio's Web site, "As an industry the radio business is heavily reliant on Arbitron ratings. Further, Arbitron's diary methodology is extremely random and hence trying to appeal to a niche audience is extremely difficult from a ratings perspective.''

Really. Also interesting to note is how the new station is using the satellite-fedHits Now!” format from Dial Global Networks.

My question now is this:

Under the "Fairness Doctrine" being pushed by liberal Democrats to force stations to run counter-programming to successful conservative talk shows, couldn't this station be forced to change its format back to alterna-rock? It went from providing a beloved service to a loyal minority group of residents to mimicking a mainstream format available on at least a dozen+ stations on the local dial. To make matters worse, all creativity has been forcefully eliminated, replaced by a generic pre-programmed music feed that research shows will (apparently) enable people to better fill out ratings books.

And of what matter is ratings in this case, anyway? Under the "Fairness Doctrine", radio stations will be forced to give equal time to notoriously low-rated liberal yakkers to offset the time given to profitable conservative talkies. If talk stations should be forced to air low-rated, low-income programming to serve an allegedly underserved niche, why shouldn't WHTG-FM be forced to provide offsetting musical content to its "Hits" format to the underserved Central New Jersey alternative-rock aficianado?

I'm waiting....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a low-income working American, I don't have any desire for a greater supply of liberal programming, but I do have a question:

Do you honestly believe low-income Americans are currently served well by commercial broadcast radio? You're with me on broadcast television, right? (And no, I don't want more NPR either.)

Anyone who understands how ratings and advertising revenue work knows that low-income Americans cannot win in the commercial radio marketplace. Airtime goes not to the show with the most listeners, but to the show whose audience has the greatest discretionary income.