Chicago Radio has changed significantly within the last year, most particularly within the last six weeks. The major change started back in December of 2010 when 103.5 (WKSC) did not renew their contract with one of the most popular Morning show hosts, Drex. I even wrote a post titled “Death of Chicago Radio”. Oh, how true that has become.
I know for a fact that I have stopped listening to 103.5 and so has my fiancé. Within the last month we have learned that both 105.9, Q101 (101.1), and 97.9 were all changing formats. This is not a new trend within Chicago Radio. Over the past decade 92.5, 107.9 and others have all changed formats.
Since 2000, the following stations have changed formats: 95.9, going from oldies to 1970′s and 80′s rock, 107.9 went from oldies to Spanish language format. 92.5 also went from Current hits to Spanish language. Most recently though, 105.9 is Changing to an all-talk station, and 101.1 has already changed to talk-radio.
The loss of Q101 is not just a loss of an 18-year veteran, James VanOsdol, but also the loss of the show Loveline. Loveline has been a staple for those between the ages of 25 and 40 in the Chicago area mostly because it was on Q101 for a long time, removed, and returned in November of 2008, only to be removed again. There is a movement on Facebook to get LoveLine back in Chicago. I am surprised that the new ’101.1 NewsFM’ has not picked up Loveline since it is a talk-radio station. Honestly, if Loveline were to come back to AM-Radio in Chicago, I am sure it would have a significant listernship.
The loss of James VanOsdol and Loveline is not nearly as great as the loss of ANY alternative-rock station in the Chicagoland area. You may get to hear an onal Alternative-Rock song on 101.9 (WTMX), but it is more along the lines of pop titles and increasingly country.
Now, what does any of this have to do with Technology. I am not 100% sure if this is merely a cause of or a by-product, but people are not listening to the radio. The users who would have previously been the target audience for radio are now re-focusing their attention on other areas. Areas like Facebook, Console gaming, Netflix, YouTube, and even mobile gaming. All of these activities have surpassed the need or desire to listen to terrestrial radio.
The choices for radio stations has become increasingly less diverse. In Chicago you can listen to five different genres of music. They are, country, classic rock, pop, and Hip-hop, and classical. That is it. There are no other choices. Talk Radio in Chicago is a joke. Since radio is not a very good option, I have turned to podcasts to hear what I want. Don’t get me wrong, my favorite music genre is Country. But I also listen to other music. The biggest problem with Radio in Chicago is that it is all becoming one in the same. If I flip from 98.3 (WCCQ) (Country) to 101.9 (WTMX) ‘The Mix’ I could conceivably hear the EXACT SAME SONG. Most of the time when this occurs it is either Lady Antebellum or Taylor Swift. More recently though, it has become Uncle Kracker. Can somebody please explain to me what Lady Antebellum is doing on ‘The Mix’? No, you cannot; so don’t even try.
At the moment I subscribe to 19 different podcasts. Of these 19 there are 13 that I make sure that I always listen to. Two of these 19 are daily shows. One of these averages around 15 minutes and the other is around 45 minutes long. Along with this, the other 11 range between an hour and two hours, averaging around 90 minutes. So total, that is averages to 1290 minutes, or 21.5 hours, of podcasts, per week. I consume these podcasts whenever I can. Sometimes I listen to the the shows live, while other times I listen after the fact. Regardless, I listen to at least 21.5 hours of podcasts per week. These is time that I could be listening to the radio, but why would I want to listen to the radio when I choose the facets of society, and mostly technology, that I want to focus on.
I know I am not alone in contributing to the trend of not listening to the radio. It seems to me that many users are opting to use their mp3 player or phone instead of having to listen to the music between the commercials. It may eventually be that we can get merge the FM and AM stations into one band and free up the other for wireless spectrum. Maybe I am not the target market anymore, but honestly I should be. Media needs to make it more enjoyable to listen to the radio if they expect to keep the medium around for the next couple generations.
Ultimately, I am not blaming technology for the death of Chicago Radio. On the Contrary actually. I blame media for not listening to what their constituents wanted from their stations. Sure, listenership is down among terrestrial radio. It may never recover. But, unfortunately, when it comes to technology it is either adapt and survive or get out. It’s that simple.