Airwave Anxiety: Corporate Control Restricts Radio Freedoms

A quick listen to most radio stations reveals a general lack of variation among songs played with current hits and popular classics dominating modern airwaves—but there are clear reasons why.

“Overplaying is a huge problem,” Nick Pannes said, “constantly playing the same songs over and over again not only limits the amount of songs you get to hear, but it also makes good songs turn bad really fast.”

Most people would prefer a wider range of music to be broadcasted on popular stations, but corporate control restricts playlists to only the most popular songs and strips away the previously-held freedom to choose what is played from Disc Jockeys. The unfairness of this common action is obvious to all, but widespread action against such practices has not been taken.

“DJs should definitely be able to choose what they want play, as long as it’s what other people want to hear,” Anna Faivre said.

A big reason for these issues is the exorbitant prices all recording artists or bands are forced to pay for airplay, often the only way to gain exposure in a wider audience. Struggling acts have a hard time making profits without hedging their bets on the often unreliable or preoccupied stations that exist today.

“Stations have to make a profit, but if [artists] do have to pay, it shouldn’t be as much as it is now,” Pannes said, “they shouldn’t be throwing out all of their money to get a song out there on the radio.”

The large amounts of time devoted to advertising are cause for complaints by many interviewees, but the problem is hardly new; one listen to a show from any time confirms that extended ads have been a fixture of radio for decades.

“Hearing hosts shamelessly endorse a product they don’t even use or run an annoying jingle for a big company makes radio that much more unattractive to the common listener,” Carole Hennig said.

Careers in broadcasting currently seem to attract few young people, the ever-increasing restrictions on those in the industry being an equally large deterrent as the monotonous and technological aspects of the jobs. Without support from new generations, the now common entertainment outlet may not survive in future decades.

“It honestly doesn’t seem like it would be a fun job anymore,” Veronica Johnson said, “less freedom would probably make the boring parts even worse.”

Success in the music industry as a whole is often defined by hit singles, so whether the common consumer knows it or not, radio stations and the corporations that control them have massive bearing on an important source of entertainment.

“Performers should combine what’s popular with their personal taste to find success, because a good balance between the two benefits both parties. The song will be more likely to get played, and the artist stays true to the music they want to create,” Mason Mohon said.

The picture created by testimony from students is largely negative, but not all changes in radio are bad; corporate control ensures quality control, employee salaries are higher than ever, and DJ’s have access to excellent equipment- possible because of higher budgets than private stations could afford. Many problems are still present, but one must consider both sides of the issue before casting judgement upon an important component of western society that, ultimately, still keeps the majority of its consumers happy.



Written by William Johnson

Staff Writer

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