It seems lately that I cannot escape people complaining about terrestrial country radio. “They don’t play country music. They play too much bad pop and rap. They play the same few songs over and over and over. They run too many commercials”. This is all true…but if you know that then why listen? If you go to a restaurant a few times and hate it each time…would you go back? Most people mistakenly think that radio is a public service. It is not. A radio station is a business that needs to sell advertising to stay in business. Paid research has convinced them that painful repetition of the hits of the day creates the familiarity that keeps listeners engaged and exposed to the advertising. This point has been argued for years. You and I might not believe it because it drives us crazy, but the ratings system and that paid research have told programmers that you and I are wrong.
Country music purists also mistakenly believe that radio is or should be a steward of country music’s legacy. Again…they are not. They don’t give a single thought to such a misguided notion. If they could get ratings playing polka music they would change formats today. They are a flavor-of-the-month business and if it was your money you would be too.
I listen to terrestrial radio to keep in touch because I make my living talking about country music and the country music and radio businesses. I hit the button in the car when a bad pop/rap song comes on like you probably do and go back after a few minutes in the hope that they’ll be playing a song I like…..but you no longer have to do that. The digital world has given us so many choices today…so many sources of good country music that if you continue to suffer with terrestrial radio you are a fool…or a masochist.
Do you bitch about McDonald’s not serving a good steak? The happy meal people outnumber you so they aren’t about to change the menu…so please shut up and go to one of the many quality steakhouses in town.