Home Music Industry News Guest Blogger Eric Rhoads from Radio Ink: What Radio Will Avoid —...

Guest Blogger Eric Rhoads from Radio Ink: What Radio Will Avoid — That Could Save It

I saw this and had to tell Eric we think so much alike. Eric is one of the radio industry people who gets it and I always enjoy talking to him.  I had written something very similar about syndication today as well. Eric runs Radio Ink, one of the few trades I respect and read daily.
Kev Ross


When I was a 14-year-old kid, radio seduced me. I wanted to be a radio star because radio was where all my friends spent their time. Being in radio was cool. Many of us entered the radio industry inspired by various on-air personalities. I was inspired in the early ’70s by the likes of John Records Landecker, Charlie Van Dyke and Fred Winston at WLS, Larry Lujack at “Super CFL,” and pretty much all of CKLW in Windsor/Detroit, all within the range of my hometown.

There were even some local radio heroes who inspired me, like Bob Dell at WOWO and Gary Lockwood, Chris O’Brien, Guy Hill, Jay Walker, and Bill Anthony, the “Live Guys” at WLYV, who were at every school dance and every event in town. I was attracted to the fun they were having on the air, their pranks, their relationship with the music, and the fact that they were stars.

Of course, these guys made it easy for me to break into the business by letting me watch them do their shows, sneaking me into the production room to practice being on the air, and letting me run the Sunday-morning church tapes to learn the board. I remember shaking when I did my first few live IDs. Before long I was doing weekends on the air with the help of these very giving local DJs.

Aside from the fact that there are few places to get this kind of experience in radio today due to voicetracking, automation, and network programming, I wonder if there are as many young teens inspired, as I was, to get into radio. I’m sure they’re out there. But chances are they are being ignored and not given any opportunity. So where will they land?

Being Illegal
When we wanted to get on the air in the worst way, my friends and I created an illegal low-power radio station with an old army transmitter (I hope the statute of limitations has expired). Today, if we were really driven to be on the air, we would have a potential audience of millions if we could get our stream online and find a way to spread the word virally. There are hundreds of thousands of online radio stations out there.

Future Personalities
The Internet, of course, is where the personalities of the future go to become stars. But, unlike my generation of wannabe DJs, this new breed will be converging all media. We’re already seeing it, among bloggers who write and produce podcasts and other forms of audio and video. Simple distribution methods allow anyone with talent to emerge on any number of platforms. I believe that hyperlocalism is the future because of the desire for local connectivity. It’s already becoming huge.

Like the hyperlocal radio stations of the past, or local TV stars and newspaper columnists, these new web jocks will be doing it all, on focused websites that are all about local entertainment, local news, local community events and affairs.

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Kevin Ross: RFFocus.org CEO with over 20 years experience in the Industry. Ross is a former radio Program Director and Radio Jock. You can contact him by clicking the "Contact Us" button in the menu bar.

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