What Radio Is Today, commentary-part 1

If my sister knew then that I would become “Dr. Boogie,” she probably would have tried to talk me out of getting into RADIO as a career.”

When I was 12, I went to visit my sister Jan in Seattle. She was a teacher who had graduated from Washington State University in Pullman and her husband was in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United States Army. She took me on a drive around the University of Washington intended to encourage me to go to college. That evening, sitting in her car, she said, “so this radio thing… you’re just using that as a stepping stone to TV, right?” I knew what she meant. Radio wasn’t a real job. Just another thing a kid would dream of but never actually pursue.

I’ll never forget how much that pissed me off. “NO,” I said, “RADIO is what I want to do. I know it sounds silly but I feel I was born to be on the radio. Radio will always be around.”

Look, I am an unabashed fan and absolute lover of radio. It’s all I’ve ever done. It’s all I ever believed in. I still believe. But things have changed since then. A lot.

It may have begun when President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The act was “essentially bought and paid for by corporate media lobbies,” as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) described it, and radically “opened the floodgates on mergers.” I was in the room when Bill Clinton, addressing a convention of Radio executives, admitted that “may have been the the biggest mistake” of his administration. The biz is almost unrecognizable compared to then. But it IS still viable and it is still important. It’s just changed.

People like me who got started at a very young age–but kept up with the times and ‘rolled with the changes’ (thank you REO Speedwagon) understood that we could continue to do what we love. But only IF we were reasonable and willing to give up some of the elements that we liked most. It’s NOT as “fun” as it used to be, but it IS still the best outlet for the few who have a certain God given talent and desire to entertain through what is being cast as a seemingly dying medium.

And staying with it to fight for what was always “right” about Radio was my new goal.

Radio is NOT dying. And it most certainly is NOT dead. Only the critics and futurists who bow only to new ideas and buzz (and paid public relations agencies who have spent bazillions to convince you) continue to bring down this reliable, entertainment & information and FREE medium. It’s changing just like everything else. Technology has blossomed in unreal volume.

But you can still hear radio.

On your computer. On your phone or tablet. On cable or satellite services. Or even ON A RADIO. In your vehicle, in your workplace, at home. It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere.

Bobby “Dr. Boogie” Rich continues in his 24th year as morning host at KMXZ/94.9MIXfm Tucson, AZ. His ‘labor of love’ is the internet radio station B100.FM

8 responses to What Radio Is Today, commentary-part 1

  1. Mark Moskowitz says:

    I started in radio when I was 17 and I’ve done it, with varying hiatuses for 50 years since. Radio at it’s best has not changed; it gives people a chance to be spoken to and listened to…one-to-one. My dad did man-in-the-street interviews and call-in radio programs in the 1930’s working with such radio greats as Walter Cronkite and Ronald Reagan. Radio was about talking to one person at a time. And listening. If radio sticks to these basics it will remain in our lives and imaginations as it deserves to do. God bless radio.

  2. drb00gie says:

    Thanks to Bill, Greg, Rob and D. for the thoughtful comments. Sometime I’ll write about the only other time anybody influential tried to discourage me from getting into broadcasting. (Not that some listeners over the years haven’t suggested that I get out!:-)

    • Larry Stoler says:

      I understand what you’re saying, Dr. Boogie but the so called experts who decide what makes good radio don’t understand a lot of things.

      We always read about how 93% of the public listens to radio. That may be true but when was the last time the average person talked about or got excited about something they heard on the air? I maintain it was a long time ago.

      One of the things they forgot was how to make a station stand out between songs. Even the late Bill Drake understood that and most of his jocks were not allowed to talk for a long period of time but people like Robert W Morgan and the Real Don Steele got it.
      They could say something and have you laughing in a few seconds.

      I don’t think radio is an industry worth being part of today. It has always been insecure but today, it’s worse.

      Most morning shows consist of teams who don’t sound good together and do bits that run too long.

      I’m not saying radio should go back to the way it sounded in 1965 but the technology is there to make it stand out today.

      The problem is the big groups want an immediate return on their investments and won’t let new creative personalities have a chance to develop their craft and stand out.

      I don’t think it’s dead but in my opinion, it’s in serious trouble.

      • drb00gie says:

        I’m sorry you feel that way Larry. You have correctly identified some of the biggest issues, but fail to have the optimism or wherewithal to protect and promote the industry you once loved. There are many (MANY) stations and shows that do perform with consistent, entertaining, informative — and occasionally brilliant–content and programming. Ironically, many of those are from the Old School, but have fought to hang on and compete in this new radio reality. It is a bigger challenge than ever, which is why I’m still doing a successful morning show in market 63 and producing an internet station just for the love of it. Thanks for weighing in.

  3. Bill Vancil says:

    You are correct, Bobby. Radio is not dead. It is alive in varying forms, and the way it is delivered has changed. But, the most real, most authentic, true “radio” comes from you and a diminishing number of others who are keeping the spirit of radio alive – as it was meant to be, when the world turned at 45 revolutions per minute. It won’t ever die, thanks to us old radio guys. Proud to be one. And, proud to be your friend.

  4. greg says:

    Not dead. Not dying. Just different! There might not be any “exciting buzz” about the medium, but radio’s been around for a LONG time. Nobody has to blog about how it works or make a YouTube video to demonstrate the new model. Radio works the same way it always has. You turn it on and enjoy! There’s no charge, no software updates to run every few months, no data use, no connectivity issues (except when the engineers decide to do transmitter maintenance at noon on a weekday).

  5. Rob-o says:

    Passion and focus from an early age! Those of us lucky enough to have been to the “School of Bobby Rich” know first hand that you have spent your life doing EXACTLY what you were meant to do!

  6. D Sharp says:

    Well saidd! It is obvious to your listeners that radio was what you were meant to do! When I want to hear great music being played or have a great time, I’ve always been able to turn on my radio, phone, computer etc and listen to what music sounded like …..thank you for sharing your never ending passion with all of us.

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