My good friend Matt Alan is a true pioneer in Internet radio, and I'm proud to be one of the regular "Demons of Decadence" featured on his popular Outlaw Radio in addition to co-hosting True Crime Uncensored with Don Woldman one-hour prior to Matt's live show on Saturdays. The Hollywood Reporter recently did an excellent feature on Internet radio in which Matt suggested that terrestrial radio stations won't be worth a nickel in the near future. The same opinion was voiced with the advent of the 33rpm record, the cassette tape, television, and now, Internet radio. I'm saving my nickels, because a live, local radio station can give you something you can't get from a record, tape, or satellite — a true connection to the community in which you live, the vibe of the city, town, or specific localized sub-culture. Good local radio will survive and flourish as long as there are owners, managers, programmers and talent who see radio as something more than intangible real estate with time for sale.
Radio has always been about tribes — the top 40 tribe, the country/western tribe, the adult contemporary tribe — but the true stand-out exemplary radio stations give you more than the music you most prefer, they give you companionship. Several decades ago there was a joke about the salesman who asks a customer what 8track tape he would like to hear in his car, and the customer responds,
"the one with local news, weather, and entertainment."
Sadly, you can travel from city to city in America and no matter how many times you "twist the dial" or press the buttons, you hear "McRadio" — the same programming everywhere. Los Angeles and New York personalities siphoned in via satellite with homogenized music lists of heavily researched, least objectionable playlists for mass consumption. Where is the local talent, the music by local/regional artists, the addressing of local issues and local concerns — and not at 4am Sunday morning?
Thankfully, there are radio stations that are live and local…or at least localized and live as budget allows. An excellent example is KHTS, AM-1220 in Santa Clarita, California. They really do live local radio, and do it with broadcast professionals who honest-to-God care. There are other stations as well that "connect" with their local audience, and build a loyal following. Radio listening habits are much like cable television viewing habits: no matter how many channels are available, you will pick three that most reflect your lifestyle and your interests. With radio, you will do much the same. When there is live local radio, you will listen..and that doesn't mean that you don't also enjoy Internet radio, syndicated programming, or your favorite CD while blasting down the highway.
No local radio station can provide what Outlaw Radio provides every Saturday — unless they decide to broadcast our True Crime show and Matt's wild and outrageous Outlaw show as part of their programming, augmenting their local focus, personalities with special feature programming. Satellite delivered or Internet programming should add spice to local radio, not be the entire meal.
Personally, I would love to own a local radio station in a well defined market, offering affordable advertising to the local mom and pop businesses that are the backbone of a local economy. Besides, it is still great fun to "play radio" — hence, you will find me every Saturday hanging out with Matt Alan, Don Woldman, and the gang at Outlaw Radio.
One of the benefits of the Internet is the ability to hear your home town local radio station where ever you are in the world, thanks to Radio Locator, the most comprehensive radio station search engine on the internet. They have links to over 10,000 radio station web pages and over 2500 audio streams from radio stations in the U.S. and around the world. Enjoy!