Radio is sinkin’ man and I don’t want to swim - Macleans.ca

Radio is sinkin’ man and I don’t want to swim

Peter Nowak on how the ads are more annoying than ever and the music sucks

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Photo by GS1311/Flickr

Last month, I broke down and bought a car stereo to replace the factory model that came with my 2003 Toyota Corolla. Given that the car is eight years old, the stereo didn’t yet have the necessary inputs to properly connect an iPod. I’d therefore been relying on one of those crappy FM transmitters that plug into the iPod, which not only results in crackly sound, but requires that you continually adjust the reception because of shifting FM stations in different towns and cities.

I shelled out for the new stereo, a simple $99 model from Pioneer, because I can’t take Canadian radio anymore. For one thing, there are all the ads. Since the CRTC allows radio stations to air as many as they want, the amount has been climbing and climbing. That’s good news for radio revenues, which are also climbing and climbing, but bad news for your sanity while driving.

Another reason is the CRTC’s Canadian content requirement. At least 35 per cent of a music radio station’s content must be Canadian in any given week, with a further requirement that 35 per cent of content be Canadian on weekdays between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm. If you like rock music like I do, that means you pretty much get The Tragically Hip every hour, on the hour—and that’s one band I can’t stand. I would rather listen to my car explode than have to hear New Orleans is Sinking one more time.

Since I got the new stereo, my iPod has been on non-stop. I’ve ventured back to radio once or twice just to hear what was up, but got disgusted and switched back quickly.

Evidently, I’m not alone. Radio audiences are plummeting. According to the most recent report from Statistics Canada (from 2008), Canadians are listening to two fewer hours of radio per week than they did a decade ago. Adult contemporary was the most listened-to form of music and kids barely tuned in to the radio at all. Translation: only old people listen to the radio.

So, radio stations are raking in an increasing amount of dough, yet they’re reaching fewer and fewer people every year. Does that sound like a sustainable business model? Most definitely not.

Which brings us back to last week’s post about the possibility of the CRTC regulating the likes of Netflix and YouTube. Rather than looking at expanding CanCon requirements to new businesses, the CRTC should perhaps be examining how its rules are inevitably going to hurt old media. I, for one, won’t go back to radio unless stations cut back on playing ads and weak Canadian music.