With the FCC poised to relax media ownership rules again in December, the U.S. Senate is starting to get the message from constituents that maybe it's not such a great idea. During hearings today, Merge records founder and Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan testified about the sad state of radio:
The deregulation that followed the 1996 Telecommunications Act allowed for unprecedented consolidation in commercial radio, which has resulted in a homogeneity that is often out-of-step with artists, entrepreneurs, media professionals and educatorsnot to mention listeners.
Of course, he couldn't resist getting in a couple plugs for Merge artists Arcade Fire and Spoon:
In 2007, two of the albums we releasedby the bands Arcade Fire and Spoonboth debuted in the Billboard Top Ten. They appeared on Saturday Night Live. The mainstream print media has written extensively about them, and both bands tour the world, playing highly successful, sold out concerts. Yet both of these bands have been virtually absent from the commercial airwaves.
Well how do you think they got in the Top Ten? Mac was out there promoting to their target demographics: our nation's elected officials. Actually, he's not being entirely honest: Arcade Fire has received significant radio support, even from giant mainstream juggernauts like LA's KROQ (see "Wake Up" at #37 on their 2005 year-end countdown... right above Foo Fighters). But Arcade Fire are the exception that proves the rule.