Then under Ronald Reagan, the Federal Communications Commission lifted the restrictions on the number of media properties in a single market that any one entity could own. The objective was sinister — both political and economic. It was a way to substitute propaganda for real news, and also quash diversity and competition.
This opened the door to a handful of huge corporations like Clear Channel to buy up all the stations in a city and thus control all the ad dollars. If you were a local merchant and needed to promote your business, you had no options among stations.
To cut expenses they started to share studios and fire on-air talent, rely on automation and turn to so-called expert "consultants" who told them what to program.
Deals were also struck with major record labels, who have come to dominate what radio stations these days play. Listeners be damned. The "music" that is aired on commercial radio doesn't reflect listener preferences, it only reflects what the big corporations want to have promoted. It's a very, very corrupt and "closed" system.
Even WSM in Nashville refuses to play artists who are not on a major label, no matter how talented they are.
In other parts of the world, Jim Reeves gets much more airplay than he does in the U.S., because radio stations still pay attention to what listeners like. Even in countries where broadcast outlets are state-owned, many of them make an effort to satisfy listeners so they program what people want to hear.
One thing that has happened in America is that as U.S. commercial radio has become more homogenized and lifeless, smaller labels and new artists have found other ways to get their music heard, chiefly via the internet.
I believe that commercial radio station owners have cut their own throats because it's undeniable that their ratings have sharply declined as other options have become available.
XM/Sirius satellite radio is a great alternative because most of its programming is commercial free. You have a myriad of choices, with channels devoted to various types of music and political thought. If you like 1940s music, you can enjoy "40s on 4" for example. The diversity of music is also astonishing and very refreshing.
If you subscribe to have it in your car, you also can stream it on your computer at work or home, which is what I do.
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