My self-pitying tone of the other day notwithstanding, I’ve decided I’m not shutting down Marconi Dreams, the blog. It’s a good mental health device. I’m going to post here every day, if I think I have something readable to write. Because I care about your mental health, too. Speaking of which, I’m convinced that radio and television station people, and network people, too, I suppose, would benefit from counseling. They’re under the thrall of their own promos. Promos are those overproduced, hyperthyroid commercials for the station you can’t escape. Radio keeps them pretty short, to separate the overload of commercials they can’t seem to stop piling together in “breaks” every ten minutes or so. When the count of commercials per “pod” (that’s what they called them, I’m not kidding) reached three, radio was doomed. And they add their own little promos to that mess. It’s a wonder radio advertising still works, when each pod drones on for four, five, seven minutes of identical hard-sell non-entertaining coercion. How can anybody stay tuned? And TV. It’s all about how great the station’s newscast is — setting aside the frantic-desperate network promos for the moment — how right-there, breaking, where you want it, and on and on. The promos, thirty seconds or less, are hard-charging, hard-hitting, action-packed, electronic-effects montages. Turn it down, Margaret. Or just trance out. And when they promote an upcoming-at-eleven story, it’s always something violent or vile, or hyped up to sound like it could be. Anger or adrenaline stimulation is the goal, because that’s why we watch TV, isn’t it? Don’t get me started on TV or radio journalism. There isn’t any. But the radio and TV people undoubtedly believe sincerely that all that promotion is true and accurate and all of us out here on the other side of the signal love it to death, respond to it. Like most advertisers, they don’t have a clue whether we do. Don’t tell me about market research. That can be and is stacked to report what they want to hear. Broadcasters are worse off than store owners; they don’t have a cash register that rings, or doesn’t.  Store owners only know something is working; they couldn’t tell you what. Broadcasters rationalize phone protests away, and don’t consider civilian feedback of any kind truly valid unless it’s screened through a rating service or “statistically valid” survey sample. Only ratings can move them. And ratings are less dependable in the new wide-open digital media age. They’ve suppressed their own visceral reactions to their product as “negativity,” which isn’t allowed in the office. I know the feeling. I used to make my living trying to guess what to do on the air. Or discussing same with peers and bosses. Trouble is, the system sorta worked for decades, because advertisers and media people were all locked into the same closed system of ratings, surveys and ad sales — and the fact that if you wanted music or video, you had to use a radio or TV set. That system is in advanced disruption because on-air-cable broadcasting is no longer a closed system. Wireless and wired Internet and cellphone networks have established new, attractive, user-moderated channels, and nifty new gadgets are cooler that the old ones. So, broadcasters’ tenuous grasp on sanity is slipping.
They only know how to cut the budget and keep producing the same stuff. Counseling is recommended. Self-examination. Personal growth strategies. Meditation. I used to say, radio people believe there are two kinds of people in the world: those in radio, and those who want to be in radio. It is time to snap out it, folks. Widen your awareness. The rest of us are getting over broadcast radio and TV fast.

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And…we’re back.


Heinrich Hertz's experiments proved the existence of electromagnetic radiation. Cycles-per-second, the standard measure of radio wave frequency, was named for him. He died in 1894, at 37. Wikipedia: Hertz


What do you do with a problem like Howard? After decades of profits and FCC indecency fines as routine budget items, Howard Stern, king of all pottymouth radio guys, followed his enabler Mel Karmazin to Sirius Satellite Radio, leaving CBS to make up a hundred million in revenue (They sold stations) and fill the void for the half of Howard's loyal audience who didn't choose to buy a new radio and pay fifteen bucks a month for a few more, ranker epithets.
Wikipedia: Stern


CBS might have become the Cigar Broadcasting System. William S. Paley was the scion of the family business. In 1927, his cigar tycoon dad, Samuel, bought the struggling network of early radio stations from a group of poor schlumps who were trying to – would you believe: sell programming to radio stations! Every syndicator since has had to relearn that this doesn't work. Bill and his dad figured out the right business model -- you sell commercials to advertisers, and give the programs to stations. Got it?
Wikipedia: Paley