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The Day the Oldies Died

Here's an advance look at Sunday's Listener column on the death of the oldies in Washington and how the format change at WBIG solidifies radio's position as the most segregated American institution this side of church.

By Marc Fisher |  April 15, 2006; 11:07 AM ET
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I've seen the same pattern occur in radio in New Orleans where the stations are intentionally targeting one particular race or another. No longer do you have a commercial station that attracts an audience of both races (not counting the jazz station WWOZ), but instead it's radio specifically geared to a particular segment of the audience (WQUE Q93 and WYLD for the black audience, WEZB and WNOE for the white audience). [The fact that these are all owned by Clear Channel Communications is purely not coincidental]. There used to be a smooth jazz station, KLJZ, but because they drew a mixed audience, advertisers wouldn't run unless they targeted a specific audience (white/black).

The days of radio which attracted a mixed audience appears dead (in the eyes of Clear Channel, Cumulus and other big-name broadcasters.) They want guaranteed audiences, guaranteed profits, and the constant format changes lead one to think that they don't really understand that the audience isn't interested in what they're offering but want something more diverse.

[Disclaimer: Much of my music listening is via the web, and usually is from outside the US, for instance the CBC or various German broadcasters. They don't pander to the idea of narrowcasting as much as it's taken root in the US.]

Posted by: Raymond Lang | April 17, 2006 12:30 PM

How do they determine the average age of radio listeners? I'm 24 and had 100.3 programmed into my car radio (and WQSR back when it was WQSR). I know I'm not the only one. Nothing beats the sounds of Motown/Elvis/surf sound/bubble-gum hits when you're stuck in traffic and need a calm-me-down.

Posted by: alexandra | April 17, 2006 5:35 PM

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