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07/29/2004 Archived Entry: "Radio interviews: how they've changed"
I'VE BEEN DOING RADIO INTERVIEWS FOR THE NEW BOOK the past couple of weeks. Not many of them -- which suits my shy soul just fine, thanks; I'd rather do none at all. But the lack of interview requests bothers my publisher. They paid good money for ads in a radio and TV trade magazine. Last time, four or five years ago, they were flooded with calls from the same sort of ad in the same publication. Why aren't the stations calling?
More odd: about half the producers who've called represent mainstream rock & roll stations. They're looking for provocative fluff to fill breaks between commercials during their obligatory drive-time news-talk shows. Ten minutes of joking, joshing, mocking. A bit of "how to protect your privacy" advice. One quick chance to give the 800 number for book ordering. Then bang -- cut to commercial, goodbye. Not real interviews at all.
This wasn't the way it was last time around. What changed?
I just finished up an interview with a host who -- way back when -- had his own three-hour show. Now, his station's mega-corporate owner has granted him just half an hour to conduct interviews in the midst of a three-hour all-news block. He talked about that with me during commercial breaks, bitter but resigned. "You gotta do what you gotta do to survive." (A line that's become somewhat of a mantra to tired people in the freedom movement.)
And suddenly the light dawns.
Clear Channel. Infinity. And their several corporate cousins. They've gobbled up the little, independent stations. Between plain old corporate culture -- which has always been cowardly -- and post 9/11 fears of getting in trouble for excess free speech ... there just aren't so many places for Outlaw voices on the airwaves. Oh, yes, an Outlaw is fine fodder for silly filler interviews with the sort of host who (just yesterday) tried to get me into a conversation about how the Ds of 2004 were superior to the Rs of 2004 because the Heinz family makes the best ketchup. But the substantial shows are staying well within the bounds of respectability (bounds into which I don't fit). And many of the rowdy little shows of five or six years ago are simply gone with the fetid winds out of Washington, D.C. and New York.
Posted by Claire @ 08:31 AM CST