Maybe Tom Petty was right.
“The top brass don’t like him talking so much/And he won’t play what they say to play/ And he don’t want to change what don’t need to change,” Petty sings on the title track of his 2002 CD. “There goes the last DJ/Who plays what he wants to play/ And says what he wants to say.”
According to songfacts.com the song was ” banned from numerous radio stations because of its content.”
The website goes on to say that Petty himself downplayed the content of the song in a 2010 interview with influential U.K. music mag MOJO by insisting that the track was not to be taken literally.
Radio was intended as a “metaphor”, the rocker is quoted as saying. ” The Last DJ was about losing our moral compass … my mistake was hanging so much of it on the music business.”
Perhaps. But it is difficult NOT to think of that song when one reads that Clear Channel, the largest radio chain in the U.S. (850 stations) has recently announced staff cuts which will reduce the number of live on-air radio personalities in many markets.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, according to New York Times reporter Brian Stelter, Tony Lynn and Myles Copeland were the only live local hosts left at country music outlet KBQI. (The morning hosts were among the announcers receiving pink slips throughout the chain.)
“I guess it all comes down to the bottom line, and as a small business owner, I understand that,” Lynn is quoted as saying on the nytimes.com Media Decoder blog. “But on the other hand, sometimes it’s more than just a few dollars more. Radio is an intimate medium and that’s what’s being ignored. Listeners develop a special bond with the on-air personalities, and in the long run that proves beneficial for both the station and the advertisers.”
Micki Goldberg, a Clear Channel DJ based in Ohio who is now unemployed after the latest round of cuts, told Media Decoder that a gradual shift from local to national production was “a real loss for communities.”
Like many radio personalities before her Ms. Goldberg was not given the opportunity to say goodbye on the air.
Okay, that’s the States.
But who sez it can’t happen here.
I can tell you from personal experience that Yours Truly was not allowed to say goodbye on at least one station.
I was repeatedly told by management at several outlets that I talked too much and threatened with the loss of my job on several occasions unless I followed the music format to the letter.
(The fact that I received positive comments from listeners via mail, phone and in person did not seem to make a difference.)
Perhaps that is why internet stations like cicv.ca are springing up all over the country.
As one embittered blogger (T. Wiley of Chicago) posted on the Media Decoder comments log:
“Good for the DJ’s, go back and create better quality local programming that you can broadcast via the internet. Pretty soon all the cars will have the ability to pick up the signals and most of the stereo equipment already do. You can beat CC at their own game.
Pictured below is Jim Ladd,along with a quote from the Hollywood Reporter website and a link where you can read more about the man HR calls “the country’s last commercial freeform jock” and “the inspiration for Tom Petty’s ‘The Last DJ,’ “
“Ladd began his radio career in 1969 at Long Beach rock station KNAC. He spent more than 14 years at KLOS, where his show aired from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, consistently leading in ratings for its time slot. He released a book, Radio Waves, in 1992.
‘My disappointment is I didn’t have a farewell show,’ Ladd told the Orange County Register. ‘I was very stunned and I still am. I have been through this before, but it is always traumatic.’ His last song was Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”