Saturday, September 4, 2010

J. Douglas Blackburn

March 12, 1945 - September 3, 2010
Rest in Peace, my friend

Added....from "Jay Blackburn, who'd served in Vietnam in combat, died in San Antonio where he and his wife Chancey lived. His major radio achievement was the creation of The Loop in Chicago with his partner Bruce Miller Earle. He and Earle consulted and/or programmed many radio stations in the United States and aboard, working for Art Holt, a radio station broker and station owner whose career goes back to years with Gordon McLendon.

Jay authored "The Radio Gypsies" and was a mentor for Claude Hall's eNovel "I Love Radio." "Jay and Bruce Miller Earle were close friends dating back to the 1960s," said Claude Hall, once Radio-TV Editor of Billboard Magazine and later a college profession. "I considered them lovable radio rascals and will miss Jay Blackburn immensely."

Read J's obituary from here.

Read Claude Hall's thoughts on J here (scroll down to "Blackburn Matters")

Bruce Miller Earle corrects the record on WLUP here (scroll down to "Loop Matters")

Read Chicagoland Radio & Media's post here.

Chicago Sun-Times article on J (9/8/10) here.

Listen to WLUP's March, 1977 sign-on here (via Tom O'Toole; MP3 download)

More on J. Blackburn from this blog here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Classic Rock Friday

Good Morning from Mid-Michigan. Sunny this morning and 52° at 6:42am.

Some great video popped up on the web in the last day. First is from the glory years of KMET/Los Angeles via Jeff Gonzer (currently a consultant and part-time on-air at KSWD/LA):

Second one via Fred Jacobs...who proudly exclaims that this is a "great celebration of classic rock":

Have a great Friday!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dan O'Day On Radio

54° - cloudy with light rain at 6:59am

Good Morning from Okemos...

This past weekend, the brilliant Dan O'Day posted this on his own blog (I found it via his post on Facebook). Dan prefaced the post with a note that this may offend radio executives.

I believe there's some truths here that need to be heard and at the very least can give owners, executives, GMs and PDs something to think about:

Dan's blog btw, an excellent read here. Make it part of your daily diet.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Clear Channel

63° - clear/sunny at 8:25am

Welcome to another work week.

When I started writing this blog post this morning, I had six other topics I was going to include. My first topic however, was Clear Channel and I've run out of room. This is a piece I didn't want to write.

Still doing a lot of reading as details trickle out about Clear Channel's latest changes, including its "Premium Choice" programming, which essentially syndicates some of the company's better talent to stations around the country. I've found it difficult for me to critical of Clear Channel. My years with them were pretty good ones that I would be hard to trade for anything else.

If what I hear is true, its disappointing to hear that "Premium Choice" won't be localized, unlike the out-of-market voice-tracking the company had been doing - where the local PD would actually schedule the music and ship a log, liners and market information to the remote talent, resulting in a local sounding airshift with some good talent.

How weird to be nostalgic for that period!

This must explain the company's rush to "localism", which is essentially an increased PSA load. Advance damage control but hard to do much otherwise with a skeleton staff.

One PD who works crosstown to a Clear Channel cluster recently described Premium Choice to me as sounding like "bad 70s satellite." I hope not! On the other side of the coin, a large market PD with the company told me via Twitter "Wait till you hear how it sounds. I think you'll be stunned."

OK, fair enough. I haven't heard the product yet.

But apparently gone from any station "opting in" (your definition of "opting in" may vary) to Premium Choice is local scheduling of music. The national playlist rears its ugly head. Interesting that this comes from a company that spent a lot of time over the years denying that there was a corporate playlist (and when the did there really wasn't).

While its true that the hits are the hits are the hits, I don't need to mention that there's always been differences from market to market (that's what local music research
was all about) and this research is what gave stations a competitive advantage. Added: in the very simple sense, it was finding out what your local audience wanted and giving it to them.

Given the present economy, Consultant Harve Allen noted in this piece he posted over the weekend that
"It's the perfect storm--negative cash flow and bland & sterile local radio stations."

And Harve adds:
"Are you mad yet? I hope a little bit."

Harve hints at something that I've said many times one way or another: it's unique hard-to-duplicate content that makes for a winning radio station. And I'm simply repeating something that (love him or hate him) Randy Michaels said to group of programmers at a Dan O'Day conference years ago.

Pulling back the local personalities and becoming music intensive (and with a national playlist at that) offers nothing unique and difficult-to-duplicate. Nothing. Anyone can do that!

There was a day when a smart crosstown competitor would take advantage of a situation like that. I really hope those days aren't over yet, but my guess is that the MBAs making the programming decisions at Clear Channel are betting that there's nobody in most of their markets who will come in and kick their ass.

Or maybe they simply don't care.