DESPITE BROADER RADIO STRUGGLES
Nicholas Deleon, a writer for crunchgear.com, says “… the radio business, as we know it, is truly doomed.” Laurel Savannah writes on blogcritics.com that “FM radio is entering its final, desperate stages of life…” David Sapsted, a writer for The Telegraph, says we’ll soon see “the end of AM broadcasts as we have known them…”
Radio is dying.
According to David Farber, the number of listeners 18-34 years old has dropped eight percent in the last five years. The price shares for Clear Channel Communications, one of the largest corporations in the industry, have dropped two thirds since the year 2000 (17% in the last year).
Analysts agree that the radio industry is struggling to keep up with other music mediums, such as mp3 players and internet radio.
John Mielke, a radio disc jockey for Radio 84, says that the struggle is because “people want content. If you broadcast information with the music, do the news on the hours and cover sports, it will set your station apart from the others.” Radio 84, an AM ‘golden oldies’ radio station, does just that.
Radio 84 offers the news, weather, traffic updates, recorded interviews with disc jockeys, one minute tales from the ‘Story Lady,’ and of course, the golden oldies. The plethora of content falls under Mielke’s idea that people will listen if you have the content, and the idea seems to be working.
Arbitron, a media research firm, released its ratings for Spring 2010 radio stations in the Eugene/Springfield area, and for 35 years old and up, Radio 84 is ranked fifth for FM and AM stations from 6AM to 7PM.
In an effort to stay relevant, Radio 84 also expanded to internet streaming in 1996, and is currently number 15 out of 3,811 oldies stations on the web. Radio 84 is the only station that is allowed to stream Pac 10 sports, which helps bring in a lot more listeners from the Northwest.
The real meat of the station, and the reason most listeners tune in, however, is the classic song collection.
Mielke is a firm believer in not dumbing down the content that the station provides, and prefers to give “the listener something intelligent, that they can relate to or understand…” He also keeps the station fresh with a music catalogue of over 10,500 songs, and says that you won’t hear the same song within a three month period.
Mielke purchased the radio station in 1996, and changed it from a business news station into a Top 40 station with music from the 50’s through the early 70’s. According Mielke, however, “you have to evolve” if you want to survive in this business, and the music content is slowly trickling into the early 80’s.
But his main goal is to play what people like to listen to.
Ted “Bear” Richards, another disc jockey that airs from 3AM to 6AM on Radio 84, says oldies music conjures up “memories…of the good times when things were less stressful.”
Susan Mielke, who works at Willamette Rapid Print directly underneath Radio 84, and is also John Mielke’s wife, says she prefers to listen to late 70’s and early 80’s music. She says she is “all over the place with music,” but likes anything with a beat. Her favorite of of Mielke’s show is the retro disc jockey recordings that are played.
According to Fatih Cengiz, the creator of a oldies Facebook fan group, with old songs, “feelings are in the foreground…[oldies] are not filled with silly things.”
Brian Casebolt, who works at Bob’s Donuts across the street from Radio 84, says the station is on all the time, but “I mainly use it as background noise. I mostly tune it out.” Casebolt prefers to listen to classical music.
Alaa Shaarawy, also a creator of an oldies group on Facebook, argues that the time period is more relevant than the actual music. “In my opinion, it’s all about our youth and time we used to spend listening to such oldies. Current generations will consider their music after 10 or 15 years as oldies to their time.”
That may not be entirely true, however. Justin Eickhorst, still a student, says he prefers “bands like the Beatles. The Rolling Stones” and music from the 50’s and 60’s. Eickhorst, who works for the station, says that older music “required more talent” than the music of today.
Regardless of music taste, Mielke tries to offer people what they want: content. With the nickname “Professor,” Mielke packs more knowledge of oldies era music into his segment than most people know in a lifetime.
“It was on this day, back in 1956, that Elvis Presley released the album “Elvis, Volume 2…” Only one part of his hourly ‘On this Day’ segment, Mielke takes listeners to the past with interesting pieces of pop trivia. “It was this day, 1958, that Ricky Nelson was featured on the cover of Life magazine…” The ‘On This Day’ is also Eickhorst’s favorite part of the show.
Mielke also weaves dramatic biographies of artists long gone into the program. “Up next we’ve a recording by a gentleman who was born in absolute poverty…the most money he’d ever seen before he turned 21 was when he was in the army…he was never secure with what he did…on December 24th, 1954, John Marshall Alexander Jr…was playing Russian Roulette…when the gun went off, John Marshall Alexander Jr. was dead.”
The Professor is one of the most loved disc jockeys on the station, and his knowledge is a big reason why people listen. In the guestbook on the station’s website listener Jean Miranda says “I love everything about the John Mielke program it is like a total flash back to the 50’s &60’s. What a wealth of information.” Listener ‘Clover’ says “I really like the history stuff you guys talk about. Thanks for bringing us the music that makes up the fabric of our lives!”
The radio industry as a whole is losing business, however, to digital broadcasts and other media sources. Fru Hazlitt, the chief executive of Virgin Radio, comments that the high price for an AM radio license “…just isn’t worth it.” In Sapsted’s article “Wave farewell to AM radio, say experts” he says that AM broadcasts only had 3.8 percent of the national audience in 2006, and that people are choosing high quality digital broadcasts over AM stations.
But, the fact that AM stations are slowly dying only boosts Mielke’s point: “people want content.” Radio 84 still has a great share of the Eugene/Springfield market, and people tune in to the station because it offers so much that people want to hear, be that weather, news, traffic, sports, or golden oldies.
The music industry has changed since commercial radio started, and there are so many more genres and charts that fill the mainstream airways. Mielke says that the Top 40 used to mean something, but that now there’s a chart for everything.
And that’s a big reason why he likes broadcasting the golden oldies. It’s music that means something to him, like it does to so many others. Regardless of whether or not the radio industry is dying, Mielke provides people with the music they love and grew up with.
You know, we always say this a lot, but we just don’t get tired of it. You are the most important part of what we do. You are the people who lived through all of this music. I’m John Mielke, and you’re listening to AM 840 KKNX.
Top Hits of The Decade (radiogold.com):
|40||EVERLY BROTHERS||All I Have To Do Is Dream|
|38||LES PAUL & MARY FORD||Vaya Con Dios|
|37||EVERLY BROTHERS||Bye Bye Love|
|36||GUY MITCHELL||Give Me A Carriage With 8 White Horses|
|32||Mc GUIRE SISTERS||Goodnight Irene|
|31||BIG BOPPER||Chantilly Lace|
|30||ROSEMARY CLOONEY||Mambo Italiano|
|29||EVERLY BROTHERS||Wake Up Little Susie|
|28||BILLY VAUGHN & HIS ORCHESTRA||Cumparcita|
|27||PAT BOONE||April Love|
|26||CONNIE FRANCIS||Who’ s Sorry Now|
|25||BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS||Ten Little Indians|
|22||FOUR ACES||Stranger In Paradise|
|20||RENATO CAROSONE||Chella Lla|
|19||FATS DOMINO||Blueberry Hill|
|18||JERRY LEE LEWIS||Great Balls Of Fire|
|17||PLATTERS||Smoke Gets In Your Eyes|
|16||PAUL ANKA||Put Your Head On My Shoulder|
|15||CONNIE FRANCIS||Stupid Cupid|
|14||ARCHIE BLEYER||Hernando’s Hideaway|
|12||FOUR ACES||Love Is A Many Splendored Thing|
|11||PLATTERS||The Great Pretender|
|10||FRANKIE LAINE||My Little One|
|9||HARRY BELAFONTE||(The Banana Boat Song) Day – O|
|8||ELVIS PRESLEY||Love Me Tender|
|7||NEIL SEDAKA||Oh Carol|
|5||ELVIS PRESLEY||Jailhouse Rock|
|4||DORIS DAY||Whatever Will Be Will Be (Que Sera Sera)|
|2||PAT BOONE||Speedy Gonzales|
|1||BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS||Rock Around The Clock|
|39||DOORS||Hello, I Love You|
|38||SIMON & GARFUNKEL||Mrs Robinson|
|37||BOX TOPS||The Letter|
|36||BEATLES||Can’t Buy Me Love|
|35||DAVE CLARK FIVE||Glad All Over|
|34||BEACH BOYS||I Get Around|
|32||OTIS REDDING||Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay|
|31||MONKEES||I’m A Believer|
|29||CONNIE FRANCIS||Where The Boys Are|
|28||LOUIS ARMSTRONG||What A Wonderful World|
|27||ZAGER & EVANS||In The Year 2525|
|26||MANFRED MANN||Do Wah Diddy Diddy|
|24||BRENDA LEE||I’m Sorry|
|23||JIMMY GILMER & FIREBALLS||Sugar Shack|
|21||FOUR TOPS||Reach Out I’ll Be There|
|20||BEATLES||A Hard Day’s Night|
|19||PAUL ANKA||Puppy Love|
|16||ANIMALS||It’s My Life|
|15||NEIL SEDAKA||You Mean Everything To Me|
|14||LOS BRAVOS||Black Is Black|
|13||ELVIS PRESLEY||It’s Now Or Never|
|12||ROLLING STONES||Paint It Black|
|11||ELVIS PRESLEY||Are You Lonesome Tonight|
|10||MARY HOPKIN||Those Were The Days|
|9||BRIAN HYLAND||Sealed With A Kiss|
|8||SAM THE SHAM & THE PHARAOHS||Wooly Bully|
|7||RIVINGTONS||Papa Oom Mow Mow|
|6||CHUBBY CHECKER||Let’s Twist Again|
|4||BEATLES||Ticket To Ride|
|3||ROLLING STONES||As Tears Go By|
|2||BEATLES||I Wanna Hold Your Hand|
|1||ROLLING STONES||I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)|
|20||ERIC CLAPTON||I Shot The Sheriff|
|19||GEORGE HARRISON||My Sweet Lord|
|18||PINK FLOYD||Hey You|
|17||BONEY M||Rivers Of Babylon|
|16||DOORS||Love Her Madly|
|15||DON McLEAN||American Pie|
|14||WINGS||Live And Let Die|
|13||QUEEN||We Will Rock You|
|11||SANTANA||Black Magic Woman|
|10||ELTON JOHN||Crocodile Rock|
|9||ROD STEWART||Da Ya Think I’m Sexy ?|
|7||ROLLING STONES||Brown Sugar|
|6||DONNA SUMMER||Bad Girls|
|4||ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA||Last Train To London|
|3||GRAND FUNK||We’re An American Band|
|1||KANSAS||Dust In The Wind|
Comments on Radio 84’s guest log:
David Robert Mitchell: 😀 One of the truly oldie stations. I lived in Eugene and listened in, now I’m in big L.A. and listen on the internet everyday. Keep the Hit’s comming.
Big Bill: Wow you guys do a good job. I sure remember KEED radio and have a pile of KEED radio window decals.
I was sorry to lose KKSN in PDX. So you fill a gap. Thanks.
Linda Nelson: I lke the early morning show with John. He makes it fun to listen to an out of state radio station.
Jewel: So Cool to hear the tunes, and stories on Nam Rock-Thanks Mielke!