Like a lot of bloggers I’m a little nuts on the subject of blogging. I’ve been thinking about this, trying to understand my fascination (fixation?). During my radio days, I was on the air for 4 or 5 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week. And because it was a small market station in an unrated market (and I was the program director), I could do or say pretty much anything that I wanted. Or that’s the way it felt at the time. But nobody told us who we could or could not have on the talk shows and our news guys could cover any story they chose. It was very loose and a lot of fun. As for the size of our audience? Hard to say but the signal could be heard in a hundred mile radius. We assumed every many, woman and child was listening.
In the mid-eighties I started working for a radio network that served a statewide audience. In fact, it wasn’t our audience but the collective audiences of the 60+ stations that aired the programs we produced. Big audience but very little control over how much of our stuff got on the air (and I was not on the air at all).
In radio, like other forms of MSM (Mainstream Media), a handful of people decided who gets heard (or read, or seen). That’s good or bad, I suppose, depending on whether you were did the talking or the listening. And for most of the last 30 years, I was one of the people that decided who got air time and who didn’t.
I remember getting calls pitching me on some radio program the host/producer thought would be great for the network. Overnight trucker shows; hunting and fishing shows; cooking shows; home improvement shows. And we had a little canned spiel we gave them, explaining how difficult it would be to “clear” the show and then there was the challenge of finding a sponsor and blah, blah, blah. Everything I told them was true in the context of the medium of radio networks, but I was the guy with his hand on the controls, deciding who got heard and who did not. And while I probably protected innocent listeners from a lot of bad radio, I almost certainly kept some good content from reaching an audience.
Fast forward to the late nineties and creation of what we now call the blogosphere. Anybody with an Internet connection can create a website where he or she can say any damned thing they want (with photos, audio and video). And they can reach a world-wide audience, assuming they have something that audience cares to read, listen to or watch. Maybe it’s just my sixties roots showing, but I do love that. And I have a hunch it represents a powerful shift in the power structure. That’s still unfolding. If you’re Clear Channel Communications or the Federal Communications Commission or the guy that controls all media in Russia (or Iraq), a billion bloggers (and their readers) might not seem like a good thing.
I’m reminded of all those coups in banana republics where the rebels take over the newspaper and the radio station first thing. Once that’s been accomplished, the rest is just mopping up. And, yes, they can probably find a way to kill Internet access to an entire country but that’s getting harder every day.
The recent combination of blogging and radio that has produced podcasting (Rex Hammock likes the term “blogcasting” better and I tend to agree) and things will get even more interesting.
My guess is that during the earliest days of radio there was a certain amount of, “Is this cool, or what!” And blogs, blogging and bloggers will become so common they’ll hardly be worth mentioning.