Don Henley on radio

Sun Feb 22 10:46:47 EST 2004

  Eli Polonsky wrote:
>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.

I wonder if this group were ever more than occasional and/or tentative 
listeners.  Certainly there were a lot fewer format choices available in 
the days when free-form "FM underground" radio was around...even back then 
those stations seemed to appeal mostly to people who'd turned away from 
radio as having nothing of interest to offer otherwise.  These disgruntled 
listeners may have put up with the Mahavishnu Orchestra in order to hear 
the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd or Joan Baez back then, but the likelihood of 
an "all over the road" format succeeding today with our limited attention 
spans is unlikely.  Indeed, AOR didn't really become successful until the 
mid 70s when stations started to tighten up their playlists.

Realistically, what did most markets offer formatically in the 
60s/70s?  Several top 40s battling it out for the teens, one or two big 
dominant full service MOR/AC stations (the old WHDH is a perfect example, 
or WBZ in the 70s/80s), and maybe a country station.  FM was by and large a 
wasteland either simulcasting the AM in the 60s or elevator music once the 
FCC clamped down on simulcasts.

I even see my parents as an example of this when I was growing up.  My 
mother had grown up with "old time" radio (radio dramas...the Shadow, 
Fibber McGee & Molly, etc.), and wasn't particularly interested in music 
radio aside from the occasional novelty song.  My father listened mostly to 
polkas & classical.  Neither of which were available on the air in 
small-town Vermont (aside from the obligatory Sunday morning polka party 
shows).  They'd tolerate top 40 because my siblings and I made such a fuss 
otherwise, but otherwise neither one listened to much radio except for the 

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