Sad news from the radio world.
Faced with growing competition from digital alternatives, traditional broadcasters have managed to expand their listenership with an unlikely tactic: offering less variety than ever.
The strategy is based on a growing amount of research that shows in increasingly granular detail what radio programmers have long believed—listeners tend to stay tuned when they hear a familiar song, and tune out when they hear music they don’t recognize.
It’s a shame that the stagnation of radio can be blamed squarely on the lameness of the listening public.
It is crazy how long some songs stick around. The singles from Adele’s last album were in high-rotation for over two years. There are a couple songs that first got launched during the 2012 NCAA tournament that you can still hear several times a day.1
Even my girls have picked up on the endless repetition. After a month of listening to Christmas music, we went back to Radio Disney around New Year’s Day. The hits that dominated in October and November remained the most common songs on the playlist. “They’re still playing this?” said M. one morning on the way to school. L., who spends more time in the car than her sisters, is especially sensitive to it. “We’ve heard this song three times today, Dad!” And that’s in maybe 45 minutes of total drive time in the mornings and afternoons.
I’ll keep hoping that my wide-ranging music tastes, and deep diving into each week’s new releases, will free them from the tyranny of corporate radio.
- I think it’s one of those Imagine Dragons songs and the Neon Trees song. Both were in commercials that I saw 8000 times while KU advanced to the title game that year. Part of me hates them, but part of me loves them because they bring back good memories of that especially sweet tournament run. ↩