Radio has many challenges that have been discussed constantly in the press, as well as in this space. Unfortunately, many of the factors facing terrestrial radio - economic, technology, etc. - are out of our control. How are we going to take iPods out of people's hands? How can you stop TV viewers from using their DVRs and whizzing past commercials?
But one thing we have going for us as an industry is outstanding local air talent. Unfortunately, it is disappearing all too quickly. It started with Opie & Anthony, and was followed by Howard Stern. Already this year radio has lost Don Imus and Elvis & AJ. Why? Because of content issues. The very talent that made them popular - being outrageous and sometimes bordering on offensive - has now been turned against them as a cause for dismissal.
Personality radio has been redefined, and the problem is that many programmers and personalities haven't gotten the message.
The rules of the game have changed. Crossing the line is no longer being tolerated by advertisers, corporate leaders, and even many listeners. From the unexpected Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl to the fiasco at St. Pat's to the tragedy in Sacramento to the Imus dis of the Rutgers ladies' basketball team, reality is changing rapidly. And subsequent coverage by the media is redefining the shock jock model. In fact, you could make a case that many listeners, advertisers, and pundits are fed up with it.
This recipe has worked pretty well for Jon Stewart, Conan, Leno, Kimmel, Letterman, SNL, and scores of great local morning shows. Radio personalities need to figure it out - quickly - because the future of our industry depends on top local talent, now more than ever.
In fact, you could make a case that many listeners, advertisers, and pundits are fed up with it. XM's suspension of O&A yesterday says it all.