Wednesday, March 18, 2015

1460 Legalized Payola

In the bad old days of radio, there was payola. A record promoter would offer cash and prizes to disc jockeys who would return the favor by pushing -- maybe over-playing -- whatever song the promoter was promoting.

This is illegal.  And there was a crackdown.  Major air personalities of the day were taken down.  And afterward, every broadcast disc jockey was required to sign a form swearing an oath they hadn’t taken gifts.

Seemed a little silly to those of us working at stations that played classical or what we then called “semi classical” records.  No one can imagine some sleazy character sidling up to us and saying “hey, bud, there’s an ounce of cocaine and a night with Lilly LaTour at the Hotel Elysee for you if you give extra airplay to “Love Makes the World Go Round” by the 101 Xylophones.

But like everyone else, we signed the oaths.

Then, the rules changed a bit.  Stations were allowed to take money for airing stuff if they said so on the air.  That rule still stands.

But now the mega owners of radio stations are pushing for another change.  They want the sponsorship announced not on the air but on line.  “Makes it easier for the listener” they say.  “Ends that pesky and disruptive disclaimer,” they say.

Can you imagine going to the website of, say, KLOD-FM in Roadkill, Wyoming and searching for something that says “Cattlecall Broadcasting was compensated for playing the song ‘Dancing with Sheep’ by M.C. Delirious on Rural Rap Records last week?”

Much easier than telling it to the listeners just before or just after playing it. Right?  All you have to do is click on the website and enter “payola” in the search block.  People would flock to the website. They’d catch up for all the ads they missed for things like covered wagon insurance, prostate cures, debt relief and fly by night peddlers of oil wells and gold mutual funds.

Much easier?  Yeah, right.


--The White House is giving the Kremlin a run for its money in the censorship department. A new report says the Obama administration denied or delayed approval of Freedom of Information Act requests.  Second consecutive number for the folks who promised more transparent government.

--The most Americanized leader of a foreign government, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu apparently will continue in office after his Likud Party sort of won this week’s election.  And it took a most Americanized campaign to do so.  Flip flopping, phony promises and a lousy economy bound to get lousier.

Clarification: a quote within a quote in Wessay #1459 was misattributed to Sarah Palin. She never said “I can see Russia from my house,” as Billy from Sligo was quoted as saying.  ABC News had asked her what it’s like living in Alaska so close to Russia.  What she said was “They’re our next door neighbors. And you can actually see Russia from land in Alaska.  From an Island in Alaska.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015

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