May 04, 2010

Radio Plays.

The BBC still produces radio drama's.

Once upon a time, radio was 'the' entertainment of choice. The big broadcast consisted of current events, comedy, drama, etc. Many of the stage performers of Vaudeville found a huge audience, stars were born! Google any of the following folks: Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Billie Burke, Bob Burns, Judy Canova, Jimmy Durante, Phil Harris, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jean Shepherd, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn. The level and degree of talent was Amazing.

I became fascinated with Old-time radio in Jr. High School. I even collected several episodes of The Shadow and Inner Sanctum. Relying upon the imagination of listener made for quite a number of exotic locations and amazing events, all within a tiny studio. One could argue that computer FX has only recently caught up with the ability to conjure that radio had. Stan Freberg, had a commercial in which Lake Michigan was made into a Sundae. Talk about imagination!

Radio has an interesting future. Once a mecca of entertainment, it is now it is largely music on FM and Talk on AM. Is anyone listening?

If you own a radio station, selling ad space has become increasingly difficult. Also, the FCC regulations require you to hire someone just to make sure you are in compliance. It is largely mis-regulated. If you do not own a number of stations, creating a thriving business is nigh impossible in most markets. Add to that the liberal attempt to destroy the AM market that they cannot succeed within.

XM and MP3 are viable alternatives to terrestrial broadcasts, as are webcasts\podcasts. As the technology has moved forward, radio struggles for viability in an ever shrinking niche. Even locally, our radio stations have opted out of using talent and going with pre-packaged single male name radio (Sam, Bob, Jack etc.) with a wide variety format. Which causes me to turn it off more then tune in.

Someone such as myself who had favorite personalities and favorite stations to tune into during those teen to twenty years, I feel a bit sad for the current generations of Ipod zombies. At the same time I do see the advantage to a personal playlist.

Video killed the radio star? No, that misses the mark. Radio needs to evolve or die, if only the government will let it.

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