Popular music and radio

The singer Pink. Photo credit: Sweetlyrics.com

Today in Intro to Mass Communication class we’ll talk about radio and popular music.

Discussion questions, some of them from Chapter 7 of Baran’s Introduction to Mass Communication textbook, are below.

1. There are 14,420 broadcast radio stations in the U.S. – 4,790 AM stations, 6,479 FM, and 3,151 non-commercial FM. The most popular radio formats are rock, country, rap/hip-hop, pop, religious, children’s, classical and jazz.
What are your favorite radio formats and why?

2. What makes radio so personal? Why does each generation so tenaciously defend the music of its era? How would you define the music of your generation?

3. The airwaves belong to the public, yet radio stations perform fewer and fewer public services. Baran’s textbook says 35 percent of all commercial radio stations have no local news, and 25 percent have no public affairs programming. Stations with news offer only 37.1 minutes of news per day. And local public affairs programming makes up less than ½ of 1 percent of all commercial broadcast time.
Should radio be required to perform any public service functions? Why or why not?

4. In 2007, Radiohead quit its label to self-distribute its album, “In Rainbows.”
More than a million fans downloaded “In Rainbows” in its first month online. Some 60 percent paid nothing. Many of the remaining 40 percent paid more than the $20 they would have spent at a store, Baran’s says. The average was $6. Radiohead earned more than $3 million in the first 30 days, and retained ownership of its masters and rights.
What do you think of Radiohead’s strategy? Have other groups used the same strategy? Do musicians need recording companies anymore? Why or why not?

5. Radio is big business. Some $16 billion in radio ads are sold every year. But some listeners complain that radio stations are too commercial. They broadcast an average of 12 minutes of ads per hour.
What do you think? Are there too many ads on radio stations? Do you do anything to avoid ads?

6. In 2007, Don Imus called the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.” He later apologized, but many people were outraged and the shock jock was eventually fired. Baran’s says shock jocks often draw a loyal following, making money for their radio stations despite their offensive and often vulgar programs. What impact, if any, do shock jocks have on American culture? Should there be any limits to what shock jocks can say on the air?

7. Nearly 27,000 podcasters are now online, and have an audience of 66 million people in the United States. Describe what you believe to be the top three podcasts in America.

8. In 2008, illegal downloads accounted for most of the music – some 95 percent – pulled from the Internet. What impact does illegal file sharing have on the music industry? What are the best sites for obtaining music online?

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3 thoughts on “Popular music and radio

  1. Pingback: COM 208: Midterm review | Writing • Photography • Blogs • Journalism

  2. Pingback: Radio and Whitney Houston | Writing • Photography • Blogs • Journalism

  3. Pingback: COM 208: Midterm exam | Writing • Photography • Blogs • Journalism

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