Joel Hollander doesn’t have a clue.
Or maybe he’s just saying what Sumner Redstone wants him to say.
Either way, in an interview downplaying the rise of satellite radio in today’s New York Times, Hollander, who is the CEO of Major Mainstream Generic Radio Company Infinity Broadcasting, sounds exactly like Wile E. Coyote looks when he realizes the light at the end of the tunnel—which the Coyote just finished painting on the canyon wall to thwart the Roadrunner—is in fact a train coming straight at him.
“At the end of the day, people want to hear what’s going on in their local markets,” Hollander tells the Times, disputing the importance of satellite radio. “People are emotionally involved with local radio.”
Now, I understand what Hollander means when he says local radio is important: I wake up every morning to the local radio station, first for the weather—especially this past winter when schools in New England were cancelled every three days—and second for news about whatever Connecticut politician got indicted the night before.
But, “emotionally involved” with John LaBarca of WICC Bridgeport?—I don’t think so.
And besides, once people get in their cars, they’re not listening to that local news station anymore: they’re listening to a syndicated national program like Imus in the Morning or Howard Stern, both of which are, incidentally, brought to you by that Major Mainstream Generic Radio Company, Infinity Broadcasting.
Furthermore, the biggest radio draws the rest of the day are, likewise, nationally syndicated shows such as Rush Limbaugh, Delilah, and Casey Kasem. Not local radio.
Me, I don’t drive to work—and when I do drive, it’s either Civil War books on tape or conference calls, so I don’t have satellite radio. But every time I rent a car I get a Ford with Sirius Satellite Radio: it’s indispensable.
As today’s Times article points out, Sirius has six country music channels—that’s almost as many regular Major Mainstream Generic Radio channels you can pick up on a car radio. I’ve never counted but there are at least that many rock channels—hair metal, thrash metal, metal metal—not to mention a 60’s channel, a 70’s channel, an 80’s channel and a 90’s channel, plus reggae, ska, blues, Elvis (literally: an entire channel devoted to The King)…or, talk radio from left wing to right wing and everything in between.
Meanwhile, on my “emotionally involving” Clear Channel Major Mainstream Generic Radio Station, I can, if I get tired of the limitless choice and unheard of variety on satellite radio, hear pretty much any commercial ever made, with a few songs squeezed in between. And sometimes the songs aren't even the same twelve songs they were playing yesterday!
Which is why satellite radio has grown faster than cell phones, according to the article.
None of which Joel Hollander wants to hear. After noting the competitive response from Infinity, Clear Channel and other radio-killing corporations—including expanded playlists and fewer commercials—the article gives Mr. Hollander the last word. He says, “This book won’t be written for another 10 years.”
On that I agree: the book about the demise of Major Mainstream Generic Radio won’t be written for 10 years.
But the business? It’s already dying. Long live satellite radio.
I Am Not Making This Up