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View Diary: "Earth shattering" change in the radio industry in the aftermath of the Rush Limbaugh Effect (203 comments)

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    If you want to hear new music, or even the same old music you've listened to all your life, you can go to the Internet and find effectively every assemblage of notes ever recorded.  There's no need to tune in to some radio station and hope they play a song you like.

    Here in Chicago, and I know in Detroit as well, there are still a few good radio stations, featuring their own programs and spinning live on the air.  But leave a very big market like those and there's nada.

    Rush Limbaugh is costing the radio conglomerates money, as chronicled in Richard Myers' terrific series of diaries, and bully for that.  And the furor over his BS may accelerate their ultimate decline.  But he is also a symptom of the greater problem.  While he gets paid coin, to be sure, his show occupies three hours of air every day in every market in the country.  Compare whatever he gets to what it would cost for every town's station to produce its own three-hour-long program.  His ubiquity is a sign of the cost cutting and product homogenization (herding behavior) you'll always see in a dying industry.

    It's a vicious cycle---revenue falls, so we cut costs to maintain profitability.  But the cost-cutting results in a worse product (and our industry got in trouble in the first place because people started preferring a better alternative product), so revenue falls even more.  So we cut more costs, etc.  The end result is a crap product no one likes---like top-40 robo-radio; "casual dining" restaurants, each with the same menu, lining the road to the mall; or Blockbuster video stores with only the hot new releases and best-selling DVDs from the last few years---while everyone waits for Godot to return the industry to its prior prominence.

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