Fixing Radio

I was fortunate to grow up in the 60's and 70's when FM radio was new and open to playing a wide variety of music. Musicians didn't need to be signed with a big record label to get their music on the air. DJ's would select songs based on merit and there was always an on-going search to find the next "new" sound.

Things are different today. Radio playlists are shrinking and there is not much new music being played on most commercial radio stations. This lack of access to the public airwaves has created a movement for radio industry reform. Read the "Seattle Statement on Radio" from the Fixing Radio Forum (February 2004)

When enough citizens come together to address this issue, a more open, democratic, creative music delivery system can be created (RADIO!)

I recognize that the internet does offer possibilities for promoting new music. I am also aware that NOT EVERYONE can afford a computer and internet access. Radio offers an opportunity to reach everyone, and I believe that our airwaves can be reclaimed. Here is what needs to be done:

  1. Give the public an opportunity to vote on NEW MUSIC for the public airwaves. A survey would be conducted for each music genre' in a given broadcast area. Individuals would register under their favorite genre, provide feedback on radio programming in their area and be asked if they'd like to listen & vote for songs to receive airplay. Participants of the survey will be rewarded with free CD's, concert tickets or other valuable prizes (more details below)
  2. Create a radio ratings system that is accurate, fair and actively seeks out listeners in a given broadcast area. The current system of rating radio stations, in my opinion, is outdated and not appropriate for today's music markets. For example: a survey of the Seattle-Tacoma area (3.2 million listeners) will consist of "cold calling" 4000 people over a 12 week period. Can this type of survey accurately represent the musical tastes and listening habits of 3.2 million people?

I have never been asked to take part in this type of survey in all of my years listening to radio, have you? Yet - there are "statistics" generated from these "alleged" surveys and radio stations live or die from these rating reports. (A high rating allows a radio station to charge more $ for advertising).

I propose that we reach out to the public and ask for their help in improving radio programming. This could be accomplished with a New Music/Radio Survey!


1. A registration process would be first - completed for a specific broadcast area. The registration form will ask for name, address, age, occupation, favorite music genre'. I believe that ages 18 and older should be allowed to participate.

Place ads in several publications and get the word out. For example: "The public is invited to take part in a "Radio Satisfaction Survey" and may also participate in previewing NEW MUSIC for the public airwaves. Help us select New Music for the airwaves and receive 2 free CD's (of your choosing) from the 8 that are previewed! All participants will be eligible for other prizes too!

2. Select a group of people (by genre) for the survey. Mail them a "Radio Satisfaction Survey" and ask questions such as:

  1. Which radio stations do you listen to? Write in call letters KUGS, KISM, etc.
    • 1a. Do you have a favorite station? If yes, which one?
      How many hours (on average) per day do you listen to your favorite station?
  2. What types of music do you enjoy listening to? ie: Rock, folk, country, jazz, classical, rhythm & blues, heavy metal, rap, hip hop, reggae, other ____ (okay to circle more than one) *each participant has already given a favorite music genre' on the registration form.
  3. Which artists music would you like to hear more of on the radio? List at least 3 artists or bands.
  4. Nominate 3 songs for radio airplay. Please choose songs that you have rarely, if ever, heard on the airwaves.
    Name of artist     Song Title     Album Title (if known)
  5. Are you satisfied with the radio stations in your area? Please tell us what you like and what you don't like about the radio programming you hear. Do you have any suggestions on how radio can improve their programming and attract more listeners?
  6. Are you interested in participating in a New Music Survey (to be accessed via the internet)? You'll receive 2 CD's of your choosing from music that is previewed and be eligible for other prizes too!

3. Participants will mail in their completed form. Those who chose to participate in the NEW MUSIC survey will be mailed a user name/password for access to a special website for taking this survey. For those who do not have a computer - a library or internet cafe could be used to access the website. There would be a certain length of time allowed for this survey to be accessed and taken.

4. Selecting New Music for the survey. This should fall into the responsibility of radio station personnel. It will be important that people without any affiliations with record labels be involved. The idea is to find new music that is creative and unique. CD's should be chosen on merit!

I suggest that 8 NEW CD's be previewed - with 3 songs selected from each CD.
(24 songs per survey) . I believe that a 2 minute music sample (per song) would be best for the survey. Rate the song either : Excellent, Good, It's okay, it's not for me

After the survey is completed, ask each participant to pick 2 CD's from the 8 that were previewed. These will be mailed to them as a thank you for their participation. Other prizes, such as concert tickets, trip to Hawaii, etc could be given away after the survey closes. Prizes are always a good incentive for getting people to participate. Everyone will at least receive some "new music" for their music collection!

NOTES: CD's with at least 3 strong tracks on them should be considered for this survey - with preference going to the new releases first. The idea is to promote CD's that have several great songs on them and are a good value for the listeners.
Also - listening to 3 different songs will give you a better representation of that artists' music.

Some CD's may only have one strong track on them. These individual songs could also be worked into a survey, however, CD's with lots of great music on them deserve to be promoted first.

What about a great CD that was released years ago but did not receive any airplay? If no one ever heard it - shouldn't it be considered "New Music"?

Obviously, the people selecting CD's for the survey will need to be honest, sincere music lovers who have integrity and principles. It is imperative that all forms of payola and bribery are eliminated from the music selection process. Each radio station could have a small group of DJ's voting on which tracks are deemed "airplay worthy". In the end, these songs will be rated by ordinary folks, thereby giving radio personnel an unbiased opinion for making programming decisions.

*Contact with your comments, suggestions or interest regarding the New Music/Radio Survey