antiMUSIC is pleased to welcome aboard
Trent McMartin who not only has been filing special news reports but now
will give you the "lowdown" on various music related topics!
As always the views expressed
by the writer do not neccessarily reflect the views of antiMUSIC or the
iconoclast entertainment group .
Is Rock Radio Dying?
Throughout his short and turbulent life
music critic and author Lester Bangs would repeatedly denounce the state
of rock and roll, regularly criticizing it and on many occasions declaring
it dead. Bangs’ prophecies about rock’s premature death were always greatly
exaggerated since rock still remains and will endure for generations to
come but none can question the overall decline of rock radio’s ratings
in North America.
As reported by Steve Knopper in a June
24th, Rolling Stone article; five rock radio stations in major U.S. cities
switched formats in recent months after ratings dropped for six consecutive
years. This does come at an odd time since, as explained by Knopper in
his article, rock albums have dominated the charts the past few months.
Artists such as Coldplay, Green Day, Audioslave, System of a Down, Bruce
Springsteen, Nine Inch Nails, the Dave Matthews Band, and Rob Thomas have
all experienced success on the billboard charts this past spring and summer.
But this success is fleeting since rock
radio station ratings are still in decline. In a March 8th article in Rolling
Stone, Bill Werde reported only six percent of teenagers in the U.S.
listen to rock at any given time, compared with nearly twenty percent listening
to urban radio and forty percent listening to Top Forty radio stations.
Since 1998 album-oriented rock stations have seen listenership fall seventy
percent while Spanish-language radio ratings are up thirty percent the
latter of which could be partly attributed to the Hispanic population becoming
the United States’ largest minority population in 2003.
Along with demographic reasons, the decline
of rock radio could also be attributed to the Internet and illegal downloading,
Satellite radio and the overall ignorance of the music industry towards
“It seems the current music industry doesn’t
focus on rock musicians as much as pop stars,” says rock fan T.J Karpinka
of Sherwood Park, Canada. “Too me, it’s more of a cash grab than anything.”
And it’s not just fans that feel that way
but performers as well. “An act like ours wouldn’t even be around today
if someone hadn’t brought us along and let us make mistakes and grow at
our own pace,” said Tom Petty in a Rolling Stone interview with David Wild
in 2002. E-street Band guitarist and Sopranos actor Stevie Van Zandt
said similar comments in an interview earlier this year with News Hour
Correspondent Terrence Smith where the rocker stated that if the Rolling
Stones were starting out today, they wouldn’t get airplay on regular radio.
An employee from 97.7 HTZ-FM in St, Catharines,
Canada who wished to remain anonymous blamed the decline mainly on the
quality of mainstream rock. “I think the primary factor numbers have slid
because of mediocre music. If you don’t have great music than you don’t
have competitive format and listeners will start looking elsewhere for
their entertainment. Be it building libraries for their iPods or listening
to old CDs.”
The emergence of satellite radio, though
still in its infancy, has the potential to take a significant chunk of
listeners away from standard radio over the next few years. XM Satellite
Radio declares themselves America’s most popular satellite radio service
with over 150 digital channels featuring 100% commercial-free music, over
30 channels of news, sports, talk and entertainment, over 20 dedicated
channels of traffic & weather, and a deep playlist with access to over
2 million titles. Sirius Satellite Radio is also making inroads landing
popular shock jock Howard Stern who debuts this upcoming January in all
his uncensored glory. Sirius declined to comment on rock radio’s situation
saying, “Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate your request to
speak to someone at SIRIUS regarding the decline of rock on terrestrial
And it wasn’t just Sirius who declined
comment from my requests for interviews but also programmers, on air personalities
and managers from standard radio stations. Ryan Zimmerman, Program Director
for Edmonton’s modern rock station 100.3 The Bear was one of many who responded
by saying “not interested.” So obviously many of these stations are putting
on a brave face saying everything is fine but behind the scenes there could
be a genuine fear that the future may be bleak for all types of stations
and not just rock radio stations
“I think if anything, time spent listening
to radio (all formats) may be down slightly, but not strictly rock radio,
“ said an unidentified radio employee from central Ontario’s The Wolf 101.5.
Radio’s demise has been forecasted before
when videos exploded onto the scene in the 1980’s just as the film industry
was predicted to pack it in when television emerged in the middle of the
twentieth century. But radio remains because of its continual evolution
to stay relevant and to connect with a wide variety of listeners.
“Radio in general has always had its share
of challenges: TV, DVDs, home theatre, video games, the Internet, peer
to peer downloads, iPods, etc. But listening overall hasn’t declined much,”
says the anonymous employee from 97.7 HTZ-FM. “Rock radio has suffered
in recent years because nothing revolutionary is taking place.”
“We need a revolution....punk rocked
the disco age into the grave and grunge saved rock from its pretence and
its excesses,” he says. We need some band to come along and change
everything. Unfortunately, I don't see it coming any time soon.”
Posted by Jalbert:
The radio stations are terrible, thats why. Rock music is alive, but it is not on the radio (I haven't listened to XM ro Sirius). Rock radio needs to expand its playlist BY ALOT. 4-5 times larger. I like a good amount of the bands but when I hear 'dead and bloated' by STP for the 39th time that day I've had enough.
I go to the classic rock station and its the same bullcrap from a different era, and they tout only playing the songs you like. So its the eagles and rolling stones nonstop.
Posted by BUTCH :
hey, ron the don, i live in DC and i'll tell ya first hand whfs has sucked for as long as i can remember. it was never "ahead of the curve" as you put it. back in the early 70's (long before my time) whfs had a reputation for playing "risky" music. by that i mean, they weren't playing the eagles. el zol (the spanish speaking station that took over 99.1 back in january) is ten times more riviting than anything hfs was cranking out. but that latin pop stuff gives ya the squirts after awhile. like rotten taco bell. bottom line: hfs death is no big loss---cookie cutter bands...master of the obvious.
Posted by Ron The Don:
What's wrong with rock radio? It's simple! In 1996, congress the telecommunications act which means the clear channels and viacoms of the world own more radio stations. That means they same songs over and over again. I also learned over 4 songs get added to radio playlists out of the 100 singles released each week. Another problem is too many cookie cutter bands flooding the airwaves. How many more rap-metal/Nu-Metal, Pop-Punk, Poor man's creed, fashioncore bands do we need on putting out music? I feel the main problem is that rock doesn't know its audience. It makes too many assumptions about what people are listening to. They put much foucs on trendy rock, but they don't play bands who's music is ahead of the curve. No wonder so many people would rather create a play from their cd and/or mp3 players than listen to another radio station. In Washington, WHFS turned into El Zol. That got alot of listerners pissed off. They staged a protest over the station switch, and WHFS returned on the air online and on Live 105.7 in Baltimore.
Posted by steve:
why didn't they mention simple plan? aren't they hardcore rock by the standards of the other crappy so called rock bands listed here. Rob Thomas? That about made me spit my Dr. Pepper all over my computer screen. I am sorry, what part of him is the rocker, the part where all he does is dance, or the part where he does not even play guitar. Yeah, but he is rock. Whatever.
Posted by Caught in a Mosh:
I agree with that last comment about something revolutionary. There's so much sh*t music going on and something needs to be done, but I can't see anything coming.
Posted by BUTCH :
is rock radio dying?...its more like where is it buried. turning on a radio and hoping to hear good tunes is like sniffing a baby's used diaper and hoping to find a pleasing fragrence. even on satalite, you've got the gay channel, the post-modern white suburbanite hip hop station, the glam dial, insipid indie rock stink fest, heavy metal, not-so-heavy metal, o and a, the 24/7 elvis channel (fukk christ! who wants to listen to elvis sing "are you lonesome tonight" all damn day?), the grunge channel, the polka channel, country, r&b, soundscapes, pop hits, classical and all the other trite boring catagories assigned to music in order to lump it all together and sell it better. fukk it! fukk radio! do what i do--make yer own damn music, listen to it and don't share it with anybody. it is so much better that way. ---over and out
Posted by snurgburga:
Didn't video kill the radio star....heard that somewhere. Commercial radio is a business & if you don't provide what people want you go broke. Go figure.
Posted by Sekiden:
Rock radio is still alive and well in Canada but in the U.S it seems to have a bleak outlook.
Posted by GREENMUSE:
ill give it a go.i though that was an oldies station.its nice to know with the move they still kept the same awful playlist.
Posted by hikingartist:
1. Money vs art. 2. Money displaces art. 3.Art flourishes elsewhere until money finds it. 4. Repeat process.
Posted by Swing'n Dick:
DMB and Rob Thomas and Coldplay?... When will someone who actually knows ROCK write one of these? Steve Knoppler!? Rolling Stone has as much credibility as MTV when it comes to ROCK. Sissy-ass Adult Alternative radio stations aren't rock. They are for guys driving CRV's who need the extra appeal of a female-friendly vehicle and music.
Posted by Tater Salad:
Greenmuse, check out 93.1, that's where rock has moved to in South Florida.
It's pretty much the same sh*t though, people pressing the REPEAT ALL on a multi-disc CD Player so we get to listen to the same crap every 4 hours or so.
I bought an mp3 player and can listen to a week's worth of music that I actually LIKE.
Rock died long ago and is now walking undead.
Posted by dudenews:
what's funny for me is that here in melbourne beach, florida, a relatively new hard rock station (blending classic metallica with new soad and nin) has just started and is kicking my a$$!! thanks to the metal gods that rock is not dead everywhere!
Posted by daedae:
Seems like I read somewhere another reason rock radio was dying was related to hip hop culture being the new rock, since what passes for popular rock is a lot of whiny emo kids who don't party and aren't reveling in excess. For some reason now my brain is saying "stupid, that was in an antimusic editorial too," so pardon me if i'm just rehashing someone else's words here.
Posted by Anemic Gary:
It's a real shame. I believe the "rock" they churn out now is more or less nothing more than boy bands with distortion, and rock fans are smart enough to know this and how insulting it is. It's creating this stagnant pool of brainless, generic music and listeners are switching off. So, not really wanting to go too far away from mainstream rock, as each non-mainstream category has a limited number of fans thus a limited number of listeners, they're digging into older mainstream songs which people eventually get sick of. Unless record companies stop insulting rock fans by holding back good musicians, I believe this trend will continue.
Posted by MEATPIE:
I am in total agreement with you Trent (TMX). I think that rock music and rock radio need a revitalization, a fresh sound and new voice. Love your articles buddy. Keep them coming.
Posted by GREENMUSE:
the rock station here 94.9 zeta,while lame and generally worthless swtiched formats and is now a spanish station.as far as i know no rock station has taken its place.which i think it should send a message to radio people if people are willing to PAY not to hear their garbage play list driven stations.honestly i know i cannot remember the last time i turned on a radio other than as a device to hear a cd or record.
Posted by Anuj:
I heard/read that some of the station changed formats because a lot of beer companies were encouraged to pull commercials from the "commercial rock radio" stations, as the under-21 demographic was supposedly being targeted. No beer ad money = no 'rock' station.