Wired has a pretty obvious article on the current state of commercial FM radio called Why Things Suck: Radio. I have always maintained that commercial radio sucks for the obvious reason that it caters to advertisers and the lowest common denominator rather than bold, adventurous programming which basically results according to the Wired article in “watered-down programming designed primarily not to offend.”
In a lot of ways, the heyday of FM radio in the late ’60s and early to mid-’70s was an anomaly as it pretty much flew under the radar catering to rock fans with often eclectic tastes. It is only when people realized that this audience actually had income to spend did advertisers and big business get involved and the audience was looked at less as a consumer of programming to consumers of products. Like the major record labels who feed the commercial radio machine, the whole point of commercial radio these days is the “commercial” part and not the “radio” part.
One point that makes podcasters like myself smile is the encouraging fact that “85 percent of teenagers now discover new music through sources beyond the FM dial.” With the growth of Internet radio in general and podcasting in particular, music fans now have a place to go where music actually matters. As commercial rock radio fumbles for a new identity and audience they are just now realizing that, unlike years past, music fans have actual alternatives these days. Unsigned Indie artists and bands may not have a completely level playing field, but it is a start.