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 Lanson 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 Hot 100 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.
  • AM Radio in the US is now largely dominated by political talk (overwhelmingly conservative-leaning), sports, religion, non-English language stations and mostly static. Besides old-time radio as mentioned above, other formats that once dominated the AM band in the past have largely disappeared:
    • Top 40 was mainly an AM format (with FM focusing on classical, jazz and album-oriented rock) up until the late '70s, when stereo became the norm for FM and listeners preferred the higher audio quality for music.
    • All major markets had at least one "full service" AM station that mixed news, sports and talk shows with current music. With music radio migrating to FM, many of these stations converted to all-talk or all-sports.
    • Talk stations used to have a more varied lineup. A single station might have an advice show, a business-oriented show, a left-leaning political host, and a right-leaning political host. The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 and the rise of Rush Limbaugh led to the dominance of conservative talk.
    • Shows aimed at truck drivers, mixing Country Music and talk about the trucking industry, were staples of late night AM radio in The '70s and The '80s. They faded when the trucking industry did (see the Real Life tab), and took a critical hit once satellite radio launched, along with digital media devices. Trucker Radio survives in Canada (plus two affiliates in Michigan).
  • Devoted oldies stations (that is, stations devoted to music from the birth of rock n' roll to the early 70s, the cutoff point is commonly seen as the Arena Rock era) are largely dead simply because the vast majority of the audience who listened to them are either no longer profitable to advertisers due to age, or have turned to AM radio. For a brief period, "Jack FM" stations popped up in several markets, which mixed in novelty songs and nonstandard radio hits of the period as well. "Jack FM" failed to take off because the audiences who preferred Nothing But Hits hated hearing joke songs and oddities mixed in. Younger audiences who enjoy older music tend to turn to specialized stations on Spotify or satellite radio. "Classic hits" stations have replaced them in most markets, and these stations tend to frown upon anything pre-1964.
  • Jian Ghomeshi was one of the most popular radio and TV hosts in Canada throughout much of the 2000s. Born in London to an Iranian family, Ghomeshi moved to Canada at the age of seven. His adolescence was marked by him listening to artists like David Bowie and Rush, and his tenure at York University was marked by his support for women and his pro-choice activism. Ghomeshi first gained notability as a member of the politically satirical folk-rock quartet Moxy Fruvous. Moxy Fruvous recorded four albums in their lifetime, having hits with songs such as "My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors", "King of Spain", and "You Will Go To The Moon". Although never the biggest name in Canadian music, the band became popular thanks to its progressive political attitude. After they broke up in 2000, Ghomeshi became the host of play a Canadian pop-cultural newsmagazine, and later got a spot on the Canada Now news program. Other gigs included his work on the documentary The End, about technological effects on the TV industry, the 50 Tracks countdown of the most impactful songs in history, its Canada-centric sequel, and a top 10 playlist countdown show called The National Playlist. Ghomeshi's best known gig, however, was his time on the CBC radio show Q. Under his lead, he turned Q into one of the highest rated shows in Canadian radio history.

    Unfortunately, Ghomeshi's star began to take some big hits. First of all was his controversial interview with Billy Bob Thornton. Since Thornton was on the show to promote his musical side project, the Boxmasters, he did not want to bring up his film career. Ghomeshi, despite being instructed not to ask about his acting, did so anyway, so Thornton deliberately evaded the discussion. Because of Thornton calling Canadians "mashed potatoes without gravy", the people took Ghomeshi's side and the Boxmasters were booed out of Canadian stadiums shortly afterwards. Ghomeshi also took a career as a manager, as he managed artists like future Dragonette singer Martina Sorbara and electro-pop star Lights, and also wrote a memoir, 1982, that was published in 2012. Although well-received adventures, neither raised his profile past where it was at the moment.

    The final nail in the coffin, however, was his rape allegations. In October 2014, journalist Jesse Brown published an investigative report on Ghomeshi's past history of sexually abusing women, including Q producer Kathryn Borel, in the Toronto Star. Once the article hit the news, Ghomeshi started to face a massive backlash, with CBC firing him on the spot. More women continued to come out against him, and further stories from his past started to make the Canadian news, such as a video of him insulting his own fans during his Moxy Fruvous days, an affair with a 16-year-old fan of his, an essay written by a reporter who went on a date with her thinking he was gay, and the fact that people at the University of Western Ontario were aware of the allegations before they came public. Organizations associated with Ghomeshi quickly severed ties with him, with CBC removing all references to him on his page, an awards ceremony and reading competition he was set to host dropping him, and his publisher choosing not to release his second book. Lights, despite initially supporting him, dropped him as his manager as she learned how bad his crimes were.

    Today, Ghomeshi is a reviled name in Canada, essentially becoming the nation's equivalent to Jimmy Saville, Bill Cosby, or Rolf Harris. Although he was acquitted in his trial due to insufficient evidence, virtually no one was convinced that he was innocent, and his lead attorney's actions drew wide criticism, being seen as a "betrayal of women" because she was one. While many people have recovered from career damaging scandals, it's very unlikely Ghomeshi will ever be able to rehabilitate his reputation in Canada.

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