corporateFMRadio Makes Waves

Corporate FM
Narrator: Danny Cox
Interviewed: Eric Boehlert, Michael Halloran, Jewel Kilcher, Josh Kosman, Joy Moeller, Erich "Mancow" Muller, Slacker, Herndon Hasty, Jeanne Ashley, Tom Bunch, Dick Fatherley, Hank Booth and Rose Diehl
Director: Kevin McKinney
Composer: Chris Crabtree and Antennas Up
Good Egg Productions
Rating: Unrated
Running Length: 83 minutes
2012 AMC Theatres Kansas City FilmFest Heartland Division Documentary Feature Award Winner

One-song-after-the-other and easy-listening stations have mostly replaced active radio (free and everywhere) and one wonders why drivers can even get to their destination without falling asleep. As stated in the film, "...this is the last generation of idolized disc jockeys...." (Anyone remember The Wolfman?) You want to phone from your office or home and say, "Play something else!" But a) no one answers the phone, or b) it's constantly busy (Ah, you think, someone else is calling in about this), or c) the station was recently sold and isn't even in the phone book directory/whatever-you-use yet. It's finally happened. You are surrounded by complacency.

Corporate FM is a documentary on this subject. The taking down of American radio from individual stations/disc jockeys/local news/public service announcements. The radio I grew up with is rapidly a thing of the past. Corporations figured out a way to make money from something in everyone's home---a radio. This idea is parallel to one I am familiar with---what ever happened to local newspapers? One in every home, too, and their demise is faster than radio stations. Even the New York Post is shuddering.

From across the U. S., director Kevin McKinney interviewed former disc jockeys, current announcers, station managers and recording artists (Jewel is one) for their opinion on the current state of affairs in radio. Jewel was able to promote her earlier music by sending material to stations with disc jockeys. There are fewer or no disc jockeys now. After 1996, when Congress passed the Telecom Act, station owners (read this as corporation owners) could make more money by not having(1) disc jockeys (no salary), (2) more commercials (more income), (3) no news (no announcers hence no salary) (4) fewer or no announcements by local charities (sometimes known as non-profit time), (5) more automation (less or no staff, hence no salaries) and (6) a play list of music designed to put the listener to sleep in five minutes. If you phone in to complain, there is no one there to answer as the "local station" is being controlled from somewhere else far away. (think the control panel of a sleeping space ship). The big owners of radio stations/time now are such giants as ClearChannel or Cumulus. Names that speak for themselves.

Using graphics, the filmmaker shows how the buying and selling of radio stations creates debt that ends up being enormous. Before 1986, a station had to renew its license every three years in order to stay on the air. Now, it is every eight years and sometimes the station is notified by just a postcard. I grew up with a local radio station that broadcast from a concrete building in the middle of a field next to the antenna. If it wasn't in a newspaper it was on the radio and the area KNEW what was going on. Now? The public is given news from abroad, which is fine and good unless there is a hurricane, tornado, flood, chemical spill, forest fire or blizzard bearing down on you. Will the corporations help you then? Guess again. A comment from the film, "No News Is Not Good News" is poignant. What to do to help local radio stations? Ask to see the station's Public File, or go to

3 Tocks

2012 Copyright Marie Asner

A complimentary copy of "Corporate FM" was provided by Good Egg Productions.

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