Payola and Radio Consolidation The

  • Payola and Radio Consolidation
    The issue of payola, or so-called ‘pay for play,’ has been receiving a fair amount of press coverage lately, bringing a fresh spotlight onto the vagaries that have accompanied the massive consolidation of the radio industry. The term ‘payola’ comes from a 1950s scandal where it was learned that record companies were manufacturing hits by paying off DJs and program directors for playing their songs. It was subsequently made illegal to do this without also informing the audience that the play was paid for. Now, it appears, the record companies have found a way to launder their dirty money by hiring independent promotion agencies who give stations promotional incentive money in exchange for adding songs to their playlists. The money is intended to be used to fund promotional efforts, but apparently nobody cares whether this money goes to a program director’s pocket or the station’s bottom line. Further demonstrating the corruption at hand, the nation’s largest radio station owner, Clear Channel, has recently bought an interest in an independent promoter, creating a much more direct link between record company wallets and Clear Channel’s bank account.

    But don’t take my summary for it — read the recent accounts yourself:

  • Slashdot today just published part 1 in a 3 part series on the topic.
  • Also today, Salon has an article about Columbia Record’s experiment in scaling back payola.
  • Salon actually made the first step in exposing the modern version of the practice in ‘Pay for Play,’ published in March.
  • And, finally, read the Salon series on Clear Channel, proving that the site has some of the best media journalism on the scene right now.
  • Oh, yeah, one more…. check out the Balance Radio Broadcasting site, run by Ron Jacobs, a former high-powered radio programmer now trying to take aim at industry corruption. The site features accounts of several phone calls Jacobs received from Randy Michaels, head of Clear Channel, wanting to tell his side of the story that Salon reported on. Some folks have wondered out loud if Jacobs and his campaign are for real, suspecting maybe it’s just a way for Clear Channel to exert spin control–in a bad pro-wrestling sort of way.

  • Posted





    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *