Growing up in Chicago, WLS was my favorite radio station. I spent hours locked in my bedroom pretending to be John "Records" Landecker and Larry Lujack. As a teenager, I moved to Washington DC, where my two new DJ obsessions became DC 101's Greaseman and Adam Smasher. After forty years, I can still sing Landecker's theme to Boogie Check ("Boogie Check, Boogie Check, Ewww, Ahhh"), and Adam Smashers intro song ("Every day in the studio a man arrives standing 6 foot 3, weighing 225...Smash, Smash, Big Bad Smash!").
These DJs made such an impact on my life, that radio was the only career I ever wanted to pursue.
Do air personalities still have that type of effect on listeners?
After I got into the business, I became a fairly well-known air personality in Washington DC. My fans made me feel like a big-time celebrity! I was taking pictures with listeners and signing autographs. Yes, somewhere out there are a bunch of signed t-shirts, photos, and bumper stickers with my name on them (maybe even a boob or two, but those have probably washed off by now).
Do listeners still have enough passion for the DJs to ask for a picture and autograph?
When is the last time you saw a radio station bumper sticker on a car? What about a station t-shirt being worn in public? Sure, we're going to hear from a spattering of programmers who randomly spot one, but what happened to the days when they were everywhere, when listener's loved their radio station so much, they felt proud to display their affection?
Back then, radio wasn't just about the music. It was about the entertainment, and the magic of what came out of the speakers. Contesting sounded massive, marketing efforts were impressive, air personalities were intangible entities that were put on a pedestal, busy signals were common and acted as a subconscious way of letting listeners know their radio station had many listeners.
So what happened?
The only real difference between radio in 1981 and 2021 is consolidation, smaller budgets, fewer employees, less emphasis on research, lack of marketing, dollar-a-holler advertising buys, homogenized playlists, syndicated programming, out-of-market voice trackers, new digital and streaming options ...oh, never mind, I see what happened.
So how do we fix this? Can we fix this? How do we put terrestrial radio back on top in the listener's mind? How do we get the younger generation to accept an older technology that doesn't let you customize your playlist or hear songs on demand?
I believe there is a way, but it will take all of the creative minds in the terrestrial universe to work together and think this through. Start the discussion by commenting on our Facebook page. Just click HERE!
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1980's. Red light. You can hear the music playing in the cars stopped around you. You scan the dial to hear what radio station they have on. Then one day I couldn't find the station - they weren't playing the radio. Could have been a cassette or CD. But today I don't bother scanning because I can tell by their music it's not on live radio. Those were the days when station bumper stickers were affixed everywhere.
The Coach - Q102.3 Palm Springs, CA.
1980's. In the late 80's and early 90's, a two hour remote in DC was built around simply setting up a table, greeting listeners and providing them an autographed picture. These days, although someone will occasionally ask for one, it is very rare. I've always viewed it as an honor to be asked to sign an autograph.
The Coach decided to incorporate the autograph question into one of his morning show bits. See video here: https://www.facebook.com/Q102.3/videos/357159089186045/
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