Don Henley on radio

Eli Polonsky
Sun Feb 22 08:00:17 EST 2004

The style of music on "Oh, Brother" was never commercial, so 
it would not fit on either Contemporary or Classic Country
stations, and for the most part would not have the production
styles that listeners to those commercial country formats are
familiar with and expect.

It certainly wouldn't fit on any A/C or pop stations of any
sort and would turn most of their listeners right off.

It's what's being informally called "roots country", which
encompasses that old-style rural country sound, and bluegrass.
Perhaps the only commercial format where it may possibly fit
to some extent would be the relatively recent "Americana"
stations, of which there are still only a handful in the US.

The success of the soundtrack illustrates a phenomenon that I
believe that there's a significant and sizeable music audience
that has given up on commercial radio for music completely.

They're listening to their own CD collections, and what they're
buying is influenced and informed by PBS (TV and radio), films,
the internet and groups focusing on different specialty genres,
on-line and word-of-mouth communication among fans of various
types of music, and public and college radio.

It would be very difficult to make a commercial station to
serve this nebulous and diverse audience feasible these days
because there's such a variety of genres that I don't know if
it would be possible to please enough of the listeners enough
of the time to get consistent ratings.

Public and other non-comm's do it with a number of different
specialty shows, some of which have good followings, but the
result is that different people are always tuning in and out
every couple of hours for their favorite shows, and as good
as some of those shows may be, very few music non-comm's get
overall ratings that could sustain a commercial station.

Still, I believe that this nebulous group who are no longer
listening to commercial radio (or much radio at all) are where
many of the audience who once made "FM underground" radio very
popular in some cities 30 or 35 years ago went, and when a
commercial station (such as a classic rock station) nowadays
tries digging out "lost" music that appealed well to that
audience way back then, it often gets no response and flops
because that audience is no longer there, they haven't tuned
to that part of the dial in decades, and it wouldn't be that
easy, if possible at all, to get them back.

Eli Polonsky

> Actually, the album was a very old-style bluegrass-type Country which I
> believe did not fit most "Contemporary Country" radio stations, which
> makes up the vast majority of Country music stations in the US.
> -Paul Hopfgarten
> -East Derry NH

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