Deader Than Disco: Radio


  • Back before television, the radio served the purpose of supplying scripted entertainment over the airwaves. While such programs are still made today (particularly in Britain), ask anybody under the age of 40 if they listen to the radio for anything other than music, sports and Rush and you will most likely get a confused stare. "Dramatic series? Sitcoms? Game shows? On the radio? Leave me alone, old man!" There has been a minor revival in the form of podcasts, but it's still a very niche market.
    • Somewhat averted as previously mentioned in the UK, due to the continuing popularity of the likes of Radio 4 and the BBC's public service mandate including the provision of such. Radio 4 is seen to an extent as being somewhat middle-aged, middle-class and intellectual, though, and commercial broadcasters shy away from spoken word entertainment as it isn't really profitable (the one station which tried this, a digital station named Oneword, is no longer on the air).
    • A major exception outside of Britain: the radio Variety Show is alive and well on NPR. A Prairie Home Companion is one of the most popular shows on public radio and spawned a reasonably well-received film adaptation. Whad'Ya Know?, a somewhat similar program, although not nearly as popular, also gets significant airplay.
  • The "Better Music Mix" format, a format expanded into the United Kingdom (but not Scotland or Northern Ireland) as "Today's Best Mix / Best Mix of the 80s, 90s and Today / More Music Variety", which was pioneered by Australian radio in the late 1980s - early 1990s. Nowadays it's almost Deader Than Disco, a Dead Horse Genre, but not quite. The fact that all the former GWR Group stations (except Leicester Sound, RAM FM, Trent FM) are now branded Heart (a female-skewed, softer-music format) with "more music/less talk", shows that Dead Horse Genre applies. The new Capital Radio has made Galaxy's "hotter dance/House Music format" almost a Dead Horse Genre.
  • The "local radio" and "personality disc jockey" genre has largely disappeared in the United Kingdom, to be replaced by big-box brands like Heart, Capital and Gold, with only UKRD, UTV and Bauer Media averting this trope. Stations such as The Pulse of West Yorkshire and Key 103 prove that this trope isn't entirely Deader Than Disco - but the trope of Deader Than Disco has been lampshaded by their DJs many, many times. With speculation that Real Radio is set to disappear as a result of the GMG takeover, this could prove to be the final nail in the coffin. This prompted a huge internet backlash in social media, namely a British showbiz site, where people predicting "Real Radio will become Heart" ended up creating a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment - although, with the Competition Commission assessing the merger, we shall see how this situation plays out.
  • Before the birth and mainstream acceptance of Rock & Roll, a staple of radio was the "Hit Parade", a listing of songs that were ranked in terms of popularity and/or airplay. From the mid 1930s until about the late '50s, a hit song was generally published in sheet music format and then performed by multiple artists. If the song proved popular enough (among both listeners and performers), it was ranked on Billboard's "Hit Parade". This trend began to decline during the '50s, when the popular rock 'n' roll songs of that era proved to be very difficult for bands outside the genre to perform. The failure of big band singer Snooky Larson to cover "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley is believed to have been the final nail on the coffin. It was eventually replaced with the Billboard 200 and its many sub-listings.
  • Shock jocks, at least in the US, no longer carry the pop-culture cache that they did at their height in the '90s and early '00s. With the internet allowing for easy access to humor far more shocking than what anybody could dare say on the radio, broadcasters who built their careers and reputation solely on being offensive couldn't hope to compete. While the FCC's crackdown on raunchy shows in the wake of "Nipplegate" undoubtedly took many of them off the air, it's telling that, for the most part, they haven't come back even in today's more open environment. Even on satellite radio, the firing of Anthony from the Opie & Anthony Show in July 2014 after he lost it on Twitter was pretty well expected and only was decried by the show's fans as for the most part, most of the comedians and writers who used to push the envelope on the radio have left for much more open formatting in podcasting, where nobody can really stop them.
  • Morning zoos have become an artifact only continuing for now as contracts made years ago continue to burn out, or for large radio groups which refuse to budget relevant local morning shows. While national personalities such as Elvis Duran and the crew of the former Kidd Kraddick show continue on, many listeners now much prefer either public radio, basic news, weather and sports, gossip which doesn't cross the bad taste line most morning shows do, or just to have music on the morning commute.
  • Prank Calls on radio (or in general) have pretty much become rare to pull off mainly because of the existence of caller ID and cell phones which pretty much kill an attempted bit before the first ring; the few jocks that actually get them through call mainly to grandparent figures who usually don't have either caller ID or cell phones or businesses which are more distracted with doing business than seeing who's calling first. These days, many 'prank calls' for morning zoos are usually set-ups made well in advance with people in on the joke. Other reasons for prank calls dying out include stations not wanting to be sued into the ground; an Australian station had to gut one of their shows when a call to a nurse by them looking to talk to Kate Middleton after she went into the hospital for morning sickness committed suicide after learning the ruse. Meanwhile in the US, one of the big names in prank calling, Roy D. Mercer, was quietly retired after a long slow decline, only a month before one of his co-creators died.