Keeping Radio Free: The Online Movement



“The recording industry is a dirty business – always has been, probably always will be. I don’t think you could find a recording artist who has made more than two albums that would say anything good about his or her record company.”
Don Henley, The Eagles

“That was the big thing when I was growing up, singing on the radio. The extent of my dream was to sing on the radio station in Memphis. Even when I got out of the Air Force in 1954, I came right back to Memphis and started knocking on doors at the radio station.
– Johnny Cash

Approximately 124,00 Americans are employed in the radio industry. Innumerable artists have had their careers launched on the airwaves. Since the early 1900s, radio has been a mainstay for musicians, a pulpit that has allowed them to reach the ears 0f people around the world. It has almost universally been the first major step towards fame and fortune for those performers able to get the airplay.

“It was amazing to me that, all of a sudden, I was hearing my music on the radio and coming out of cars.
– Lenny Kravitz

The auditory experience speaks to people on a level vastly different from the one that other media touch upon. In the fertile ground of the human imagination it can take root providing entertainment, inspiration, and information all wrapped up in an aural package.

“TV gives everyone an image, but radio gives birth to a million images in a million brains.
– Peggy Noonan

“I started playing ukulele first for 2 years from age 9 to 11 and got my first guitar and got inspired by blues I heard on the radio that turned me on and I started learning myself.
– Johnny Winter

Now we are seeing radio under economic fire on Capitol Hill as the Performance Rights Act (S. 379 & H.R. 848) lumbers its way through the legislative process. In response, there have been many efforts made to combat this proposed act due to the deleterious effect it would have on smaller stations and minority broadcasters, among other reasons. Today, I’d like to point out two online resources for information and activism on behalf of the radio industry.

First there is, which has a petition online as well as search tools for getting the contact info of your Senator and Representative. With 231 members of the House publicly opposed to the legislation, this is a vitally important tool. All of us — DJs, listeners, programmers, anyone who loves radio — need to step up and let our leaders know that we support radio.

There is also the Free Radio Alliance which is really leveraging the social media in their efforts as well as providing numerous resources, information and a nicely developed Action Center. Go join up; I just did! You can also check them out on  on Facebook, , Twitter, and Linked In.

Then there is the site put up by the NAB:  No Performance Tax Dot Org. Not only another great source of news and resources, but also host to a wide variety of broadcaster-oriented tools and info including downloadable radio spots and a Performance Tax Public File Form to help stations remain compliant while engaging in advocacy in this issue.

Recent months have truly shown the power of the online campaign. Just take a look at the analyses of the recent presidential election for one of the best examples. Social media and the Internet offer an unprecedented avenue for people when organizing around issues such as this one. Get out there and make your voices heard, be it on blogs like this one, in Facebook groups, or any other platform. It can work!

I’d like to close today with two quotes from the Distinguished Opposition at the Recording Industry of America.

“If a song’s not on the radio, it’ll never sell.”
– Mark Wright, Senior Vice President, MCA Records

“It is clearly the number one way that we’re getting our music exposed. Nothing else affects retail sales the way terrestrial radio does.”
– Tom Biery, Senior Vice President for Promotion, Warner Bros. Records

Photo courtesy of Antigne78, used under its Creative Commons license


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