Radio Responds

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July 3, 2011 - On Tuesday of this week, I brought you some select quotations from Kathy Rowe, a veteran of CHMR (MUN Radio) and a woman with no shortage of funny, witty opinions about local radio. That post prompted a lot of comments and direct messages in Facebook, which is appropriate, since Kathy’s comments were compiled from her Facebook updates.

I received one note from an industry insider; a deejay and manager with a local station. To paraphrase, this person said ‘Give us a break!’ So I did. I offered them an opportunity to reply in my blog. The individual knows Kathy – well, everyone knows everyone in this town – and didn’t want to turn this into a “pissing match,” so I allowed anonymity in this case.

Here is the response, from a radio person, to Kathy Rowe:

 

Hello Geoff,

Enjoyed reading your blog about Kathy Rowe’s comments on Facebook. I like them myself! She has a knack of getting across her point in a humorous way which is not always possible in Facebook text. Just wanted to comment on some of her remarks about commercial radio.

Stations don’t fake caller requests. We don’t need to because there’s a ton of them. We don’t wait for the song to be requested 5 or 6 times before we’ll play it. The point of playing a request is to make one person happy. If one person calls for it, it hasn’t been played recently and it fits the format of the station then it will go on the air. However, it’s true we don’t play something outside our format. Why would someone play Kenny Rogers for example on a current Top 40 station? People listen to a particular station because they expect to hear particular music.

While there are ratings periods in which stations will attempt to lure listeners to their station with prizing, it’s hardly so-called ‘snack pack of chicken’ coupons that are given away. Most prizes are trips all over the world to see bands. Also cash, cars, cruises and the like. This is not unlike any business marketing. Also, most ratings contests are fun. Scavenger hunts, finding things, playing a game. Most of our listeners tell us that the prize is secondary to the fun they have playing the contests. The point of doing this is not so people will listen to the station because they could win a prize. It’s to lure them onto the frequency and then stay because of what we program every day.

Yes, there are lots of ads on the radio. We’d all like them to disappear. However selling radio advertisements is a radio station’s only revenue stream. We are not funded by the public or commissions and we don’t charge a fee like Satellite radio. It’s free for the public because sponsors pay for it. 

Bottom line is there is no evil suit who has a personal stake in “Sweet Home Alabama” controlling everything. We do thorough research on our audience and what they want to hear. We do the things we do because the audience demands it.

Still I appreciate Kathy’s comments. We need more people like her and yourself, Geoff, to encourage debate about the standards and responsibility of media in Newfoundland. Again, I also find Kathy’s comments hilarious, too. 

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  • Shawn Fulford
    July 03, 2011 - 11:35

    Cop out saying we won't play Kenny Rogers on a top 40 station. Of course, only a dummy would think you would. But If call KRock and request, say, a classic AC/DC song like Sin City, which would be more a classic among fans of the band granted, but I doubt it would get played and we'd hear You Shook me All Night Long for the umpteenth time. That's something that bugs me. As for the Sweet Home Alabama comment, you say research says the audience demands it. Ok fine, but why can't another song by that band be played? Plus who here loved A Horse With No Name by America? That song's songwriter must send the stations here Christmas cards because he has to be making a fortune by the airplay it gets in NL. I cannot understand why the variety of the songs is so limited. Nor can I understand why someone would call KROCK, for example, and ask to hear Sweet Home Alabama. just wait a half hour. :) I'm not a radio insider btw, I'm a listener. My preferred choice of music for me based on what I hear on the radio is my mp3 player.

    • JT
      July 05, 2011 - 08:04

      Even more so, try requesting a Deep Purple song, you have a better chance of hearing "the hils are alive with sounds of music". And don't get me started on the over exposure of Rush tunes or god forbid "Newfoundland man".

    • Brad
      July 06, 2011 - 14:14

      I remember a time in St. J when you could switch between two FM stations to hear the same song being played at the same time, and not just once by coincidence. + I will NEVER forgive OZ for what it did to the Bryan Adams "Waking Up the Neighbours" album. I can't imagine how hard that must have been on the Bryan Adams fans. Nowadays the formats are little more diverse and that's a good thing, but I agree with Shawn, some stations still play the same boilerplate stuff when you know their library is great. Yeah, I pay for it, but anyone with satellite radio knows Sirius blows terrestrial (especially local) radio out of the water and that's where this listener will be parking my loyalty on the daily drive. What Sirius can't do, the iPod will. Freedom from multiple live hits from a carpet and furniture dealership can be yours!!

  • Sue Hickey
    July 03, 2011 - 10:56

    I wonder about the "audience demands it" reasoning? I don't listen to commercial radio here because the music leaves a lot to be desired, whether it's the "Newfie" brand on some radio stations, or the Top 40 format in others. I loved CHMR in university. And I remember when OZ-FM started as an AOR=format station. My brothers loved that because of the music it played, your Bostons, your Led Zeppelins,your Jethro Tulls, ELOs...not the poppy sound bites of today. How many teens listen to Radio 2 for intelligent music programming? What commercial radio seems, I think, is an hour a couple times a week devoted to alternative, world-beat, anything not Celine, Justin or Britney.