Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Just Can't Live With My Radio

There's one move I'm glad I never made in my days in the music industry. Radio. It was tempting, though. I knew the music, the artists and owned a pocket full of fame. There was certainly more money, prestige and perks to be had. But I knew I could never conform to the rigid parameters imposed on the modern day disc jockey. Say your name. Give the time. Call Letters. On to the next song. Not me. I need to tell you what I think before I play what I want you to hear.

In radio, the personality of a DJ is kept in check, while some of the P.D.s and G.M.s, enjoy exerting their strong personality traits on record promoters, local artists and their staff. It's funny to watch a radio exec get drunk on the power that a corporation has allowed them to hold momentarily and funnier still to see the look on their faces when they realize it doesn't last forever.

Another thing about radio. The music sucks, and they know it, too. The men and women picking and playing records at radio today are of the generation that witnessed the golden era of hip hop. They know a good record when they hear it, but they seldom have the nerve to play it. Radio's become a corrupt, moribund medium that's lost any kind of real connection to the needs of the community it claims to serve.

I was reminded of the best non-move I ever made when I picked up a copy of what my grandfather used to call The Black Dispatch tonight. The first FM station to play hip hop in Richmond, Va. , Power 921, gutted its staff, firing longtime personalities Stress, Rosetta Devine and the Bad Boyz. I listen to the radio just enough in the last few years to know who the latter couple is. I'm sure their games and gimmicks will transfer easily to another market and they'll be missed here, for however long a dedicated radio listener with a short attention span does that kind of thing.

Stress and Rosetta Devine however, have strong ties to the community and have been a part of Power 92 for a long time. The sound of their voices meant you were in capable, experienced hands. I didn't listen Power that often and I'm still shaking off the shock.

I guess after a three quarters of getting trounced by the competition, something had to give. Ties were severed, changes were made and the beat goes on. It's not personal, its radio.

After having my TV own show, I couldn't imagine someone stopping me from doing something I love, abruptly and without warning. I stopped Wavelength when I wanted to and on my own terms. DJs never get to say good-bye.


Anonymous said...

I think it's terrible. Are they relying on the air personalities for ratings? How about they play some better music?

Craig Belcher said...

They're relying on the fact that people like what they know for ratings. As far as better music, ask Cathy Hughes.

Amy said...

How do you feel about the hip hop shows on stations like WRIR? Then there is always "DJ Prolapse" on the Charlottesville station broadcast here....