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(SOCIAL MEDIA) Audio Dial Embraces 21st Century


Radio has been a virtual constant in this country; from the very early days of AM and its variety of entertainment, music, and of course, news and information. That AM constant has also seen a wide variety of personalities: from top 40 and its all-star disc jockeys like the late, great Don B. Rose here in San Francisco, Aku (Hal Lewis), and the great Cousin Brucie in New York (still entertaining the masses on satellite).

As AM concentrated more on news and talk, news-only, and sports, FM took hold in the 60s and 70s, and dominated the 80s with AOR, indie-rock, and popular music. FM, of course, was the evolution of stereo radio and it remained that way until the Internet began to take center stage and emege as the technological giant it is today in the second decade of the 2000s.

Now, as radio tries to re-emerge and assert itself as satellite begins yet another popular era courtesy of the truck drivers and commuter crowd, a much-discussed, uber-powerful entity that draws in techies, neutralizes the younger-demo, iPod crowd has becomed ingrained in the domain: good old-fashioned "social media." Never before has Internet behemouths like Twitter and Facebook become part of the terrestrial landscape. They should. As the old adage says, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Or, more aptly, try to take advantage of a powerful 1-2
punch of modern-media inertia, the zeitgeist of modern-day culture, information, music, and news presentation.

As a conduit to keeping radio relevent in the iPod generation, Twitter and Facebook have become, in effect, virtual musts in the programmimg template. News-talk stations, (and music too, for that matter), have gone full-throttle into the Facebook zone. They not only provide outlets and their listeners with an interactive combo zone, but they also act as virtual 24/7 advertising blitzes. And they're free too; how convienent and dandy in an industry that has seen its own reduction of ad revenue.

Facebook questions, polls, cross-promo ties with outlets and their talent and talk-show hosts are pervasive. Popular San Francisco radio host, Ronn Owens, a 37-year veteran of all-news KGO (with the exception of Owens' local 9-Noon show), utilizes both Twitter and Facebook. Owen's topics each hour are pasted on his own Facebook page and allow listeners to engage in each topic offered, answer various polls, and bark back cyber feelings of disagreement with topics ranging from politics to news of the day. As the Obama-Romney battle closes in on election day, the popular listener requiem of "agree/disagree" makes its way onto the Facebook page. This is hardly an Owens phenomonon -- it is quite universal and includes any major and non-major talk host, jock, and AM/PM drive personality.

Twitter is even bigger. It's 140-character limit is intentionally short and sweet; more to the point, as a means to provide interaction between host and listeners, his/her own "followers," Twitter's immediacy is a pure natural for the
modern-day radio crowd. What better method, from the host's point-of-view, to plug a topic, provide the station URL and take listener comments, all the while doing your show and receiving up to the nanosecond response and feedback, via "re-tweets," "favorites," and expressive pro and con responses to the subject at hand.

Indeed, social media, for better or worse, has become even more important than the "live" listener/consumer itself; that, in and of itself, may be disheartening to those accustomed to the more traditional mode of communication. But like the landline phone, that sort of business model has quickly evaporated. Throw out fax machines and bring in massive new text mantras. Pretty soon, the idea of a simple phone call into the lines of a KGO, WABC, or KABC may go the way of the eight-track.

Welcome to the new world of modern media. Whether we like it or not, it's here to stay, be it terrestrial, satellite, or the Internet. One can only wonder what it'll be like mere years from now.

Rich Lieberman is a veteran SF Bay Area news blogger covering radio and TV since 2001.His media blog, "415 Media" ( is the #1-read industry sheet in SF.

(9/23/2012 7:41:14 PM)
I'm sure that Rich means Dr. Don Rose, who''s middle initial was "D".

- Raydioheadfm

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