Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Radio is all about "Right Size" These Days.

I listen to a lot of news/talk radio. It might say something about my politics that I have never listened more than a sentence to two of Rush Limbaugh, or any of the other right wing ranters In a spirit of equality, I've never listened to Air America, either. Politics bore me except when presented on National Public Radio. Mostly, I prefer listening to hosts and callers who exchange views on topics of the hour. My greatest pet peeve about talk radio are the relentless traffic and weather updates. Is it really necessary to tell me every ten minutes "on the sevens" or "eights?" Well it is if your real motive is to create properties for advertisers to sponsor.

Radio executives bemoan the fact that listeners tend to flip the dial every few minutes. Maybe they'd be less inclined to do that if the station didn't repeat itself every ten minutes. It might also help if traffic, weather and sports were presented in a more meaningful manner than merely rattling off a couple of key statistics. the format of talk radio today doesn't give thoughtful hosts the opportunity to delve into topics because about the time they present their point of view, it's time for traffic again. 

There is a noticeable trend in Chicago stations to which I listen. Other than an occasional exception, the commerials promote free "trials" for wight loss products, ranging from "smoothies" to pills and meal packages as well as medically related topics. Have unsightly vericous veins? Suffer from some newly identified nervous disorder? Feel bugs crawling under your skin? There's a trial product available for that. Howver, you must call within the next ten minutes. "If the lines are busy, keep trying." Want to find ways to get rich from real estate, gold or silver? Yes, Virginia, there are "free" programs available to help you find the path to wealth. The only break from these seemingly relentless "get well, get rich" ads are the pleas to donate your car, RV, or boat (on trailer only) to one alleged charity or another. I am particularly aware of the jingle from the folks who spell cars and kids with "K's" and offer a "free" weekend getaway for your donation. Does it surprise anyone that the company behind this effort is being investigated by various attorneys general and good business practice watchdogs? Is there anyone left in America after the Cash for Clunckers program with an old used car that doesn't know these charities typically consign the cars to a third party who pays them a flat fee of a couple hundred dollars regardless of the condition or value of the car? In the case of the "K" people, it's not even that significant.

It seems commercial radio, at least the stations I hear on the Chicago dial, have become vehicles for snake oil sales, and assorted scams. Like most listeners, legitimate advertisers have gone elsewhere. It almost makes you want to hear more frequent traffic reports.