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Name: Adam Bernard
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Radio Ga Ga
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

There are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed, ever, and Star of The Star and Bucwild show crossed one of those lines in a major way last week which resulted in his firing and arrest. Apparently Star felt there should be some beef between him and Hot97’s DJ Envy, so he created one himself, making comments about friends having sex with Envy’s wife and offering $500 for the whereabouts of his four year old daughter so he could “do an R. Kelly” on her. Not only is this kind of talk inappropriate, it’s not funny, so Star gets the double whammy of being fired for content that simply shouldn’t have been aired (and being in radio myself I have to say no amount of pushing of the dump button would have caught all of his rant, it would have been minutes of dead air), but also for being un-funny.

Star’s defense is that he felt he had been threatened by Hot97 on-air personality Miss Jones, yes that’s right MISS Jones, "to the effect that Star would be harmed upon leaving his place of employment." Is this really what Hip-Hop radio has come to? Warring radio show hosts who have lost all knowledge of what is funny and replaced it vitriolic diatribes aimed at self-created enemies? If this what has replaced musical variety? C’mon guys, shut up and play some records.

So what’s next for Star, other than court? Some will speculate satellite radio is in his future, but let’s put the brakes on that for a second. Ever since Opie and Anthony were fired from terrestrial radio in 2004 and moved to satellite radio the medium has at times been used as a dumping ground for shows that couldn’t get it done on terrestrial radio but still had a big enough following to make satellite providers think they could get a few more paid subscribers if they added the shows to their lineup. The idea has only worked in a so-so way and if continued will only hurt the medium, making it the minor leagues of radio.

Opie and Anthony landed on XM in the fall of 2004. The move was one Anthony hailed as a great one, saying “XM is the future of radio as we know it, and it is the perfect platform for us to entertain our radio fans, in the same way that HBO provided more creative freedom for people in TV.” This week O&A returned to terrestrial radio and their cast of characters is extremely happy about the move. Jim Norton, a regular on the show, noted “it opens you up to a lot more people.” For O&A satellite turned out to be a place to bide their time until they found another terrestrial slot. Of course they’ll still be airing shows on XM, and XM will allow them more freedom for the extra hours they’ll have them, but they’re back on terrestrial now, where a significantly larger audience will hear them.

Up next to make the jump to satellite was Howard Stern and he did so with a lot of noise followed by a noticeable thud. According to the latest news from Bridge Ratings more than a third of Stern’s fans didn’t follow him to satellite, 25% saying the cost was too high and 9% saying it simply wasn’t worth it (which sounds like different ways of saying the same thing to me). Where are the listeners going? According to the poll ¼ of the people listening to music are now doing so over the internet. As high speed connections have become more prevalent internet radio has become the current big trend for listeners tired of hearing the same songs over and over again on terrestrial radio and who don’t want to pay for satellite radio.

As someone who’s currently broadcasting out of a college station that also streams their shows over the internet I have to both smile and be concerned over this. I smile because there’s hope that people out there really are listening to my shows, but I have to be concerned over the idea of where I’m going next. Independent radio is unpaid, we do it to try to reach the next level, but at this point it’s unclear what that next level is. At the moment I know I’d love to be on satellite or terrestrial radio, no matter what the ratings say. The ratings could be less of an indicator that people dislike radio in general, but rather an indicator that people dislike who is on the radio. Once program directors figure this out it could open the floodgates for new talent like yours truly to break in in a major way.

Back on the topic of Star, is satellite the right move? For him, yes, because no terrestrial station will hire him at this point, but for satellite, no. I don’t see Star’s fans following him to the new medium and it will only make satellite radio look like a landfill for fallen shows. Anthony’s comparing satellite radio to HBO is a great one. Now, do you think HBO would be caught dead taking a failing network show and appropriating it for their own network? If satellite radio is to reach its full potential it has to leave the Star and Bucs of the world behind and focus on creating some HBO-quality programming of their own. Appropriating a few big name shows worked to get a few million subscribers, but the medium will only become a force if it starts producing some shows of its own that become must listen to radio.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 10:08 AM  
  • At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well said, and a nice story, since I use to listen to his show in the morning. it was either that or my ipod. Not many great Hip Hop morning shows.


  • At 3:47 PM, Blogger dj chance said…

    great compelling story as usual adam...and i agree as i dont listen to ANY radio anymore and havent in months.i took the antenna off my car

  • At 10:26 PM, Blogger Adam said…

    Thanks for the comments. The outlook for radio is looking pretty bleak of people are taking the antennas off of their cars! Maaan, where am I going to get a listenership!??!?

  • At 4:49 PM, Anonymous MK said…

    Sorry to say...I disagree with just about everything you said. You act as if Star's show is some low rated show. He had some of the highest ratings in morning radio. So if he were to go to satellite his show would continue to as successful if not more than it already was.

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