Here’s a quick note in support of radio:
Dang it, Lyle! Twenty years ago, I stood supportively in your corner. When the critics were offering less-than-glowing reviews of your albums, I still bought ’em. I heard songs with killer lyrics and an enormous amount of style. Then came the Julia Roberts thing. Again, I was there. I was openly badmouthing the late night talk show hosts for failing to recognize the appeal for a talented, young actress. Through the years, I’ve continued to be supportive. When I got a hankerin’ to hear "Which Way Does That Old Pony Run" a few months ago, I even bought a new copy on CD. I could just as easily have skipped the cost and dubbed it from my vinyl copy, but hey – the music was worth it to me.
But now, you’re out there slapping me around. You did it, of course, with all the class and well-thought-out rhythm I’d expect from a talented lyricist. However, when it came time for a creative hook, just just continued to jab. Line after painful line, you painted a picture of radio – my industry – that made us look like nothing more than thieves. The Senate Committee probably listened intently through your charming Texas drawl, and maybe even posed for a picture and scored an autograph while you were there. That much I don’t know, but I know this – radio is not your enemy.
I first bought your music after hearing it on the radio in northern California. I don’t think VH1 was doing country in 1986, and CMT (if it existed) wasn’t airing that far west. The Internet was also nonexistent, as were iTunes and digital music as a platform in general. Your testimony backhandedly acknowledged radio’s promotion of a song, but unfairly suggested that we generate profit simply from playing it. In fact, we – as the creators of radio – have to artfully select, assemble, and program the finest array of music in such a way that people care to hear it at all. We have to do all of that without knowing whether a new artist will make it to the rank of sophomore, or whether the next single from an established artist will be an absolute flop. We accomplish that through promotion, skillful imagery and positioning.
"The grass is always greener on the other side…" that proverb has been around longer than any of us. I don’t know what it’s like to be a recording artist that needs a few more dollars to buy a bus for a touring band, but Mr. Lovett, I don’t suspect you know much about needing a loan to replace your transmitter after a lightning strike, either. It’s mighty gallant to come to the aid of your non-composing brethren, and I only wish someone of your talent and stature would take a stand for us small broadcasters – struggling just as hard as the working musician to make ends meet.
Christian Listening Network