November 30, 2015

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First Mediaworks

06/06/05 Lemmings

Radio has a history of copying. Borrowing without permission. Cheating. If a program director creates a successful format or comes up with a witty name, he'd better jump back quickly, or dozens of others will tumble over him converting in droves. Throughout the years, I've watched stations in every market convert to Bill Drake's “Boss Radio,” Mike Joseph's “Hot Hits,” Scott Shannon's “Pirate Radio,” Bill Moyes' “The Arrow,” Buzz Bennett's “Q and Y” identities, John Lander's “Z,” Burkhart & Abrams “98 Rock,” and Jerry Clifton's “X,” “92-nine” and “The Box” and countless others. I'm not sure who first came up with “Kiss,” or “Lite,” but everyone jumped on those bandwagons, too. I remember an AM station, “63 Joe,” in Salt Lake circa 1982. All of their jocks were Joe - GI Joe, Joe Cool, Everyday Joe, etc. It was a lot of fun, and very entertaining. No one copied it, but it was the first I remember with a first name - like Jack.

Now, Jack is all the rage. His success in Canada has led stations across America to become Jack FM™ stations (officially syndicated by Gary Wall Media). The format, of course, is springing up under other names by people who want to copy the concept, but don't want to pay the creator for his intellectual property. So, we have stations like Bob, Larry and Frank. What's next? K-Lowry? Maybe Sirius will launch a channel called Mel, XM will launch the Lee format and Emmis will announce Jeff.


Sorry. I'm back now. Remember the '70s, when everyone simultaneously dropped their call letters and became Z this and Y that? It makes me wonder if every station in America will soon have a first name. Hey, maybe we'll get some female-name formats, so the guy formats can have girlfriends. Ken and Barbie, maybe? Jack and Jill?

Radio people are also quick to copy ads. They'll take an ad that was crafted in another market to solve a unique problem for a particular advertiser, then change the name and address and give it to an advertiser of their own. You might as well give him someone else's prescription medicine. But that would be illegal, because it's dangerous.

Frankly, it ought to be illegal to replicate ad copy for the same reason. Why does it never occur to radio folk to learn to write great ads based on specific client needs?

I'm sorry for being so cranky, but I'm weary of watching one person's success being copied without ever really trying to understand the genesis of that success, and the problems it addressed.

Perhaps the last lemming to walk into the sea will remember to turn off the transmitter.

Where have all the creative folks gone?

Hello? Is anyone out there?

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