Tuesday, December 15, 2015

                       I'M DREAMING OF......

Here we are at the end of another year. A time to reflect on all that has passed before us

these previous 350 plus days. I always inwardly ask myself if I, or the World I live in, is any

better than previous times. Not for me. No. I'm dreaming not  of White Christmases, but

for and end to political correctness. I'm dreaming of a time when maybe there will be no

one fired in Radio at Christmas(dream on). I keep dreaming that one day someone will

wake up in Broadcasting and realize you really need real people on the air LIVE to really

achieve anything meaningful. I'm also dreaming that the FCC will realize one day that the

Deregulation Ruling was absurd, and that no one entity needs to own hundreds of Radio

stations. I also dream that sanity will return to this World before there is no more World.

All-in-all, 2015 was not a terrific year, nor was it totally without it's good moments, but I'd

trade a few of 2015's for any one of the years from 1955 through 1970. Yeah. That's my

best dream I can dream as of now. To you, good and dear reader, may all of your dreams

come true and bring you the joy, wealth, health and happiness you seek in the New Year.

That's my Radi-ho-ho-Opinion, what's yours? 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

              *Following is reprint from my 2013 Opinions:
                                     Brenda, Bobby, Burl..enough already!!

Now, I love a good Christmas carol or song as much as anybody. But after 60 years,

I'm getting a little tired of "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree"and "a rump-a-pum-pum" 

with "The Little Drummer Boy". If that's not long enough, we now have stations starting 

their All Christmas music formats November 1st!  Joy to the World and Feliz to your Navy 

Dad.  Yep, there's less than 65 days of a "Holly Jolly Christmas" and The Chipmunks. 

I know, this usually gets some decent rating points for these "brave" but tedious stations.  

I know, I'll be able to hear this again in Target and Sears while shopping. Just can't get

 enough of those badly segued Christmas Classics...like The Singing Dogs barking their way 

through "Jingle Bells"and deftly merging into "Mary's Boy Child" by Harry Belafonte or 

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir!  I cringe.

Oh! I know, there's always a 5, 6,or 7 year old coming along who's never heard these "ripe"

holiday "chestnuts" before. I worry that they're now sentenced to hear them the rest of their 

lives! Before you scold me and call me a programming "Scrooge", I love the Holidays. Perhaps

we should just throw common sense and programming philosophy out in the snow with

"Frosty" and enjoy it all. But I fear some group or dogmatic person will come along and

picket these stations for having too many songs with Christmas in the lyrics! It's only a matter

of time. If the lawsuits then prevail, that'll cut the Holiday song list down by over 80%! 

We'll have to get Brenda Lee to re-record "Rockin' Around The HOLIDAY Tree" I guess.

I can't even imagine Bing Crosby ever singing "White Holiday" can you? And Mel Torme 

would never have written "The Holiday Song" today. Somehow hearing Sinatra sing: "I'll

Be Home For The Winter Solstice" won't cut it either. While I wait for political correctness

to offer some new songs...Little Drummer Boy...you're safe.  For now!.." a rump-a-pum-pum...

That's my RadiOpinion...what's yours?

By the way, Stan Freberg's "Green Christmas" is still funny after 55 years. A CLASSIC!

Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5IXlfJSEi4

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

                             THE RADIO TREADMILL...IS IT TIME TO GET OFF?

Recently, there was a 30 year celebration of the release of "Back To The Future". For some reason
that got me to thinking about the direction to where Radio was heading. It seems that most Radio
execs today are missing a most important direction, and that would, could, or should be:
Back To The Future. Radio, like a lot of industries, have always copied what was/is successful.
Scores of stations copied the early McLendon, Storz and Bartell formats. Later arose all those
"Fake Drake" or "Boss" stations. Why? Because they were winners. They were damned good.
They were winners...both in ratings and revenue. Today's "Deregulation Darlings" and their
corporate hierarchy, haven't even contemplated trying what has already worked. There has been
no consideration or thought of listening to tapes or recordings of what ingredients made those
stations of yesteryear so highly successful. Programmers today are afraid to take any creative
chances. The corporate overlords want to "play it safe". The format is one cleansed of any human
connection. Don't play or say anything that hasn't already been "scrubbed" first by research or
focus groups. What this leads to is banality, sterility and predictability. After all, just keep
something on the air that can produce the necessary revenue to pay off  the debt service on those
over-priced loans used to purchase that corporate armada of radio properties. It's hard enough to
run ONE radio station...running hundreds is close to insane! There's little thought about the
"product" on the air. There IS a lot of thought...usually the only thought... THE BOTTOM LINE.
These Bottom Line thinkers seldom think of people. Fewer people, less payroll. Less people,
more duties. Quite simple. One person can voice track for dozens of stations, right? Also, a
central music department can put the same music on a myriad of stations in many markets.
Voila! Radio has become a digital automation system, not too unlike the pre-programmed Shafer,
IGM or Shulke systems of the 1960's. Many of us feared then, these machines would someday
lead to our inevitable replacement. In the ensuing 40 years, not that much is different. If those
in control of broadcast operations today are searching for something "new", maybe they should
listen to Peter Allen's song lyrics and be reminded that "Everything Old Is New Again". Try
something! This treadmill radio has been on just isn't very good anymore. Time to get off!
That Fall day back in 1955 when I first hopped on board the Radio treadmill and uttered my first words on the air, I was 17 years old, naive, and full of excitement in joining this magical World
called RADIO. Somewhere along the way, the "magic" left, but the treadmill kept monotonously moving to a new software laden place where humans can be replaced quickly... just hit the "delete" button. That's MY RadiOpinion, what's yours?

Monday, October 12, 2015

                      The Times They Have Changed!

Yep, it's over. Radio is officially dull! Bob Dylan was indeed prophetic when he sang about
the "Times They Are A Changing".  The "Change" has happened to Radio. America came
plunging head long into the 1950's after a bitter World War. America was ready to explode
with optimism and futuristic thought. Radio was ready to join in this new modern World
of Studebaker, Corvette and T-Bird cars, cars with Rocket 88 engines, outer space Sputnik satellites and talk of putting a man on the Moon! It seems not too long ago, one could hear 
emanating from radio stations across America: energy, dynamism, superlatives, positive momentum...you remember, all of the things that made radio sound great and actually BE great. Radio was "Fabulous", "Futuresonic", "Color", "Big", "Funderful", "Rocket Radio", "Boss", "Heavy", "Super", "Magnificent", Top Dog, "Tigers", Big Apes"...would there be enough adjectives we could use to describe ourselves? Such were the days of "Top 40 Radio"
We had " Fab Forty ", "Sonic Sixty", "Pacesetter" and "Silver Dollar Surveys". Disc Jockies
were not just DeeJays, but were: "Swingin' Gentlemen", "Good Guys", "Magnificent 7",
"Hit Makers", "Star Makers", and "Boss Jocks". Weekends weren't two days at the end of 
a week, they were: "Wonderful", "Fun Lovin'", or "Million Dollar". Promotions were:
"Colossal", "Gigantic", "Winner's Wonderland","Car Loads Of Cash", "The Best", The
"Biggest"..and on-and-on it went. Oldies were "Golden","Souvenirs", "Flashbacks",
"Evergreen", "Forever Fabulous". Top 40 Radio Newscasts were: "Pulsebeat", "EarWitness",
"Pacesetter", some were "Intelligence Reports" all filled with that urgent staccato delivery
punctuated with a myriad of buzzers, bells, stagings, echo chambers and filters to insure the
listener could be given the World of information in 3 to 5 minutes. Now, toss in further
exciting contests & promotions consisting of big cash, cars or house giveaways, plus listener
involved "Treasure Hunts", and you have what I call The Second Golden Age of Radio!
It lasted for maybe 15-20 years...from 1955 to about 1975, but what a whirlwind of creativity
it was. From the mid 1990's to the present, radio has stagnated into a Sargasso Sea of over
regulated and researched programming that is so predictable and uninteresting to warrant
long term listener tune in. It's true, music tends to reflect the mood of a society over time.
Over the past 50 plus years, you can hear the change. From "At The Hop", "Teen Angel"
and "Betty Lou Got a New Pair of Shoes" to "Eve Of Destruction", "War( What Is It Good
For)", "Abraham, Martin & John" and "Woodstock"to  today's song lyrics about "ho's and killing cops", it's easy to see and hear where this country has come from and where it's headed. Radio seems to be following this same downward spiral. Optimism has been replaced with pessimism and confusion of purpose. Today, no news would be welcome good news!
I miss the days in radio when I heard the phrases: "We have plenty of audio radiance for 
our radio audience" and "The radio station you'd listen to if you owned all the stations in
the World".  Where did our radio pride and bragadoccio go?  Listen today, and you will
seldom hear "greatness". Not all "change" is a good thing. Maybe, just like our country, we don't feel that way anymore.   That's my RadiOpinion...what's yours? 

Friday, September 25, 2015

                                   WHEN IS TOO MANY, TOO MANY?

Are there too many Radio stations?  I have come to the sad conclusion that there are. Well,

let's see. As of July 30, 2015 there were 15,455 licensed full power stations in the U.S.A.

according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the FCC. This is an ever changing

number, but the biggest increases are in LPM's (low power FM) - 1,149 in the past year!

Then added are 6,366 FM translators and boosters. However, AM stations DECREASED

by 4 to "only" 4,698. FM commercial stations had an increase of 7 to 6,613. FM educational

or non-profit stations stand at 3,989. If you add in all types of TV(UHF-VHF), the total broadcast

stations are at 30,465. Boy! That's a lot of licenses and frequencies being used isn't it?

When I entered radio in 1955, the number of AM stations were about half what there are

today...around 2,600 then. Back then-in the 1950's, I could listen to half of the United States

from my bed( in Ohio) at night:WLAC, Nashville & John R.,WLS, WABC, Jack The Bellboy in

Detroit, KDKA, WLW, Del Rio Texas and my personal favorite-Dick "Moonglow" Martin from

WWL in New Orleans. These are but a few of the fabulous frequencies found on a much less

crowded dial. I got to thinking about this the other night when I was not sleeping well, and turned 

on my trusty red bake-o-lite 1971 Archer AM radio to "listen myself to sleep".

Out here in Southern California with the mountains and rugged terrain, it's very hard to receive

much but static these days. FM is even more difficult. I can't hear any of the local stations without

much interference from afar. I always thought the FCC erred in the beginning by not making dial

space wider..to at least 20kc instead of 10kc. Same idea for FMs in megacycle spacing.

This would have made side band usage for today's digital HD much easier. AM radio doesn't

really have much of a chance as it's being "strangled" by too much frequency intrusion. After all,

there's only so much room on the dial-AM or FM. Only a span of 530 to 1700 kc to cram in 4,700

radio stations. This should not have ever been allowed to happen in my view. I can't figure out

what the FCC's end goal is. As an analogy, it's like over stocking a pond with too many fish-to

the point that very few can survive. OR, too many fishing licenses are being issued to "fish the

pond" dry. Whichever the case, neither scenario bodes well for the industry, the advertising

community or the all important listener(s). That's my RadiOpinion...what's yours?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

                              ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN...THE BEAT GOES ON

As if society doesn't have enough law suits these days, now comes the latest to re-surface as it

regards RADIO VS. PERFORMERS RIGHTS ACT. Litigants such as Music FIRST Coalition,

FMA(Future of Music Coalition), AFTRA-SAG and various Recording industry groups are after

the "Deep Pockets" of terrestrial radio to obtain Fair Pay for Fair Play. They contend AM/FM

stations should pay for all performers on a record or on recorded music played over the air waves.

Naturally, the NAB and large corporate broadcast entities don't agree. Radio says that paying for

songs played on their stations would be unfair-especially to smaller(small market) radio stations.

Radio has always had a "Quid Pro Quo" association with record companies and artists. Free adver-

tising and promotion for the performers right to compensation for said air play and exposure. The

new fee structure would make it nearly impossible to stay in business. It would force them to resort

to "All Talk" formats, or close down all together. The NAB feels the record labels should pay their

artists. The pro performance people note the fact that Radio has already agreed to compensate digital

downloading on-line sources, as-well-as various Satellite Music outlets. They also say that Radio has

been paying composers and publishers since 1923, why not the performers?   It a two sided coin of

which I can see both sides. I don't know how all this started many years ago. It's  sort of a which

came first "chicken or the egg" scenario in the making of this "omelette", but both seem to be

arguing over the cost of the frying pan!  However, the various remedies proposed, are too complex  

thanks to all those lawyers who always have to complicate things more than is necessary.

Why there's even a new litigation campaign brewing on the back turntable from ABS Entertainment

 (representing Al Green's music and others) to stop the playing of  "Oldies" which were recorded  

before 1972... at least until the proposed language for a fee structure for the playing of these "Oldies"

can be determined..yet different for "newer" music played since 1978! Does that mean that these

pre -1972 "Oldies But Greedies" will now be found only on public, ethnic and/or college radio

stations? Will the Temptations, Elvis and The Beatles find their "niche" as the NEW Classical Music

right next to Mozart and Beethoven? Is it a case of re-biting the hand that fed you, or an overdue

overhaul of the the PRA-Performer's Rights Act?  Here's a proposal:

 If the "performers" wish fair compensation for each Radio station air play they get, then terrestrial

Radio stations should get fair advertising rate compensation for the duration of that "performer's"

music that was played. Maybe then, both sides will discover: "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and

"It's All In The Game", that "It's Now Or Never"so "We Can Work It Out" and be "Happy Together"

if you want some "R-E-S-P-E-C-T .

That's my RadiOpinion....what's yours?  -   Gary Allyn


Thursday, August 20, 2015

                                           RADIO LIVES MATTER (Too)

Every time I read of the passing of one of our Radio legends or Icons such as Gary Owens, 

George Wilson or a Casey Kasem, I often think about who will come along to take their

place. No one can replace their respective talents, but who will at least try to rise to their

level? Unlike other entertainment professions-Acting, Singing, Comedy etc.; Radio has

no "Farm Team", no outlet anymore where one can learn, make mistakes, or hone one's

ability to get better. Many years ago when "Movies" became the rage, I remember people

used to wonder what would become of the Vaudeville performer. Well, Radio appeared to

put many of them to work, and many of those went on to star in another "vaudeville"

- Television.

In my day ( '50's, '60's & '70's) there were plenty of smaller market"mom and pop" owned 

radio stations where one could get started in a broadcast career.

Since Deregulation, the allowing the massing of hundreds of stations under central control of

one owner, there is limited opportunity for anyone to advance as an on air talent. There is no 

Triple A "Farm Team" to go to. I see no talent pool of Radio lives to pull from who are trained 

in this special form of communication....who possess the fundamental elements to succeed. 

Radio, much like our Federal government, is diminishing personal achievement through

centralization of power OVER people. I see a steady erosion of an individual's pursuit of

The American Dream. Or even one's dream of a career in Radio. In the not to distant future,

I see the "Euthanasia" of  Radio and it's people, due largely from "Bottom Liners" in the

corporate ownership of broadcast properties, who see "talent" as an expense rather than an

asset. These are the same people who control an individual's pursuit of happiness. In recent

months there have been mass "layoffs" and firings...and no replacements in sight. I doubt if

the last Dinosaur knew when it died that it's species was now extinct. I hope it's not too late to

help save another potential extinction that's now occurring in American Radio. 

That's MY RadiOpinion....what's yours?  - Gary Allyn