WBCN's last days

Bill O'Neill billohno@gmail.com
Wed Aug 12 19:56:35 EDT 2009

John wrote:
> How about poor programming decisions as the culprit, instead of XM, HD, and
> etc? 

Could it be? Nah. Let's blame the pond not the fish....  If you include 
value-added services to the listener in those programming decisions then 
you are right.    SiriusXM, HD, iPods, etc., are not the blame. The more 
those pieces find their proper 'fit' into the culture the easier it is 
to see what the terrestrials can do that none of the above can possibly do.

Being among the middle-agers among us I think it's easier to withhold 
crusty references to "back when I was at Wxxx" because it may be seen as 
a dated, out of touch reference with no application.  So, here goes 
anyway:  When we do consider heritage stations from our youth I do not 
think it is all about the music.  There's the big lie.  Charles and the 
Big Mattress on WBCN, for instance, was a radio show with good music.  
But that was not why most people listened.  Really. 

A non-radio buddy of mine and I just talked about this today.  He said, 
"Why should I listen to a radio station that doesn't listen to me?"  He 
went on to pop-off the dirty little truths that radio (all radio is 
local) slowly reduced its value when it backed away from paying to 
produce local news, local weather, local sports, local entertainment 
news.  Radio actually believed the big lie that if you offer less of an 
investment you will get the same return.  Radio also believed that "It's 
all about the music."  Well, that certainly became the result because 
radio took away any other reason to listen to radio but for the music.  
There was nothing left but the music.  (No disrespect to my dear buddies 
still wearing the cans. You know who you are and you know where I'm 
coming from.) 

So, along comes a more personalized and easy delivery system for music 
lovers.  Radio now had nothing else on the shelf for the customer and 
became unnecessary. Not irrelevant, just unnecessary. 

The good news?  Toss in today's iPods, XM, or whatever else may "grab 
TSLs" and you CAN still want and need a radio companion in the morning, 
ride in the car, etc.  But, there is an entire generation-and-a-half 
who, through no fault or CHOICE of their own, now need to be exposed to 
that thing that live and local radio can do.  Radio killed the radio 
listener and now owes the listener an apology. 

The first thing a radio station needs to do on the first day it decides 
to repent is to say, "I'm sorry.  I was wrong.  I was young and needed 
the money.  But now I'm back."  (You may want to insert 
After-School-Special-music under that voicer but that's just me.)

Killing-off WBCN unwittingly started a long time ago.  The calls may 
have stuck around for the ride but the station left the station long 
before midnight last night.

Bill O'Neill

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