Thursday, April 04, 2002

Nothing is Real
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned an article in the Wall Street Journal (link requires paid registration) about voice-tracking, a new technology being used by radio stations to allow a single DJ to host shows on several stations at once.

Now you can see a similar story for free, thanks to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Chances are this link will only be good through Wednesday 4-10: The AJC doesn't keep its archives freely available.) (Or you could try this.)

Clear Channel Communications, which owns numerous stations here, is the biggest offender, but far from the only one. Of the thirteen FM music stations the AJC checked, only three had live DJs all the time. Some had relatively small percentages of voice-tracked programming, something many stations do overnights or on weekends. (But then, nobody is pretending that Casey Kasem is live and local.) And then there's The Max 105.5 (not coincidentally, a Clear Channel station), which has exactly one live/local DJ. Fox 97.1 (a Cox Communications station) is darned close to all-"Randy & Spiff" all the time.

Is there a shortage of people who can do this kind of work? Between voice-tracked music shows and syndicated talk-radio hosts, one gets the idea that the average city only has one person who knows how to do radio.

Doesn't that make it much harder to get into the business, if there are so few local positions open? Where will the next generation of DJs come from?

If you don't think listeners will care, why not tell them the show isn't live?

It matters to me. If I'm going to invest my time in listening to the radio, the station can by gum hire a human being to speak to me live.

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