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The Rock Radio Debate Continues

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(by Ed Ryan) Recently I wrote an opinion piece about Rock & Roll and my lost love for the format I grew up with. There was a lot of reaction to this piece, mainly split down the middle from readers. However, those that have worked in that format, disagreed 100%. They say the format is alive and thriving. And obviously there are Classic Rock stations doing quite well across the country. Someone who has developed a stellar reputation in the industry is Jeff Pollack. Pollack disagrees that the format is fading and sent a letter which you can read here as well. We gave Jeff a call to get specifics from him on why he believes this format isn't on a respirator. Here is that full interview. Although I'm not sure I agree that someone who listens to The Doors also listens to Jay Z and Eminem Pollack details how the format has changed, survived and spawned other splintered rock formats that do very well even today.  

Here's my full interview with the great Jeff Pollack

Also, Check out Jeff's recent piece at the Huffington post.

Jeff's letter to Radio Ink after we ran THIS PIECE

People getting tired of Pink Floyd? So that's the reason for the recent format shifts? Glad we're all learning the real reasons from Radio Ink.
I know you were looking for a reaction and you got it, but maybe next time you should realize that putting forth such a confused conclusion based on what are actually wildly different competitive scenarios simply represents evolution and attrition, where the stronger survive and those who are behind sensibly explore their options. But to even hint that classic rock, around since the late 70's when legendary PDs realized the enduring appeal of the music, is dead, is just silly talk.
If your article instead pointed to some of the real challenges facing contemporary rock formats in PPM markets, I think more of us would have been interested. If you had asked for example, how a rock format, whether Active, Alternative or AAA, can hope to compete in PPM markets without being more cume focused in their music, that would be interesting. Or, without a big cuming morning show, how can you compete with the big stations in your markets, that would have been a more thoughtful discussion. Or why is it that certain rock stations effectively reach a large audience, while others argue themselves into a no win spiral trying to arbitrarily decide what is rock and whether a particular artist "fits" the format. Or addressed whether the current state of new music is a primary issue in the health of contemporary rock formats, a point made by Virgil Thompson in his rebuttal about how "current 'rock' is in a valley and has been for awhile". But instead, you dismissed all of the various permutations of rock in a sweeping manner.

The world is completely different than it was even 10 years ago. Rock fans today own Jay Z, Jason Aldean and Eminem records, listen to Lynryd Skynyrd and The Who, while others are perfectly comfortable with defining Coldplay and Nickelback as rock. The audience has decided that rock is a whole lot wider than many gatekeepers do. I would have liked a sensible debate about real issues facing rock formats going forward, not statements that are barely worth responding to. You can do better.
Jeff Pollack

(3/8/2014 6:38:54 PM)
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(9/22/2011 10:37:43 AM)
Ken Gale is absolutely right. Radio sounds the same nationwide. There was a time when you could tell what city you were in by listening to the radio. It made travel much more interesting to have regional flavors. Today it seems like the only local flavor a radio station has is its commercials. Yeah, the door is WIDE open for Pandora to steal listeners. Rock radio can survive if someone takes the time to PROGRAM to their audience. Then again, by the time some of these stations wake up, there might not be an audience left.

- Mark Moss
(9/22/2011 8:53:22 AM)
My problem with most rock radio is that they reduce a band's entire catalogue to two or three songs, making every show predictable. Plus they never say what the song is. Plus they play the same stuff nationwide, with no allowance for regionalism.

I'm glad I have more freedom when I'm on the air.

- Ken Gale
(9/22/2011 8:35:25 AM)
Right on Jeff. Let's find solutions. We have an awesome AAA here in Cleveland and we address those issues daily. We're in the "Rock & Roll Capitol of the World" and it's still challenging to program and market a rock station. But rock radio is not for wimps and whiners! That's why we love kicks do we :)

- Suzy Peters
(9/22/2011 7:09:33 AM)
As an OLD Rocker/station owner I have a hard time with the "Rock" label. Jay z Eminem is Rock? I have 5 grandchildren and they all love Classic Rock but Pop, Hip Hop (the few clean ones that can be aired) etc they hate. My old vinyl collection and YES my turntable is their favorite past time. So I think definitions need to be changed instead of using the ROCK sticker to all music. Our station gets along very well airing REAL Rock, we have yried

- John

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