Radio & Records shuts down


Staffers got the news Wednesday that after 36 years of publication, Radio and Records is no more. The Nielsen Company, which bought R&R for $18.5 million in 2006, says some parts, particularly the airplay charts, will live on in its Billboard products.

“As you know, the radio industry has undergone considerable consolidation in recent years.  In response, Nielsen Business Media has determined that the best way to deploy its resources in support of the industry is to consolidate its music brands. Consequently, after the current issue, R&R magazine and will no longer be published and some R&R content, particularly the R&R airplay charts, will live in the pages of Billboard magazine and on,” Nielsen Company VP/Chief Press Officer Gary Holmes told RBR/TVBR.

The staff of R&R, which had dwindled to fewer than 30 people, had worked late on Tuesday, as usual, to put out the weekly issue dated Friday, June 5th. They did not know that it would be the last.

Jeffrey Yorke, Washington Bureau Chief of R&R, wrote his story after the word came down from HQ, but alas there was no webmaster left to post it. So, you can read it here:

Nielsen Co. Ceases Publication of Radio & Records

Nielsen Co. today announced that it was ending publication of Radio & Records, known in the radio business for the past 36 years as R&R. Publication ceases immediately. In a specially called “Town Hall Meeting” for R&R staff across the country, Publisher Howard Appelbaum told employees that it was a “tough decision” but that the magazine’s “macro did not work” in this economic climate. He said “all jobs are eliminated” and that some parts of R&R, such as airplay charts, would be included in Billboard magazine, another Nielsen publication.

Appelbaum, who took over Nielsen’s business media division in January, said the company had made several attempts to “salvage” the publication and had spoken with “some prospective buyers” but he declined to discuss specifics with the staff but invited “off-line” questions.

It was Appelbaum’s third such Town Hall teleconference, the first to introduce himself on news of the departure of longtime publisher and president Erica Farber in early January, then another on Feb. 25 that announced severe staff cutbacks.

RBR/TVBR observation: Although R&R was, in some respects, a competitor, it is a shame to see the publication that Bob Wilson began so long ago come to an end.

Jack Messmer, Executive Editor, RBR/TVBR: As a former Washington Bureau Chief of R&R, it is sad to see it come to an end. Bob Wilson built the publication, aimed primarily at radio programmers, on the integrity of its airplay charts. That made him one of the good guys in Fredric Dannen’s book “Hit Men,” which explored the payola scandals of the 1980s.

Bob sold the publication to Harte Hanks, then regretted not having his baby and got Westwood One’s Norm Pattiz to buy it and put Bob back in charge. But changes in the record industry and advertising landscape led to more ownership changes until Nielsen bought R&R in 2006 and ended a long-running head-to-head battle with Billboard’s Airplay Monitor publications, which were then merged into R&R.

A lot of dedicated broadcasters worked at R&R over the years. After all, almost everyone who worked there had been in radio before they began writing about radio. Lon Helton, Walt “Baby” Love, Joel Denver, Ron Rodrigues, Gail Mitchell, Barry O’Brien and Pat Clawson, just to name a few of the people I had the privilege of working with. Like me, they’re all long gone from R&R, as is Bob Wilson.

It was a good run. Here’s hoping that better days will return for the radio industry, even though R&R will no longer be a part of it.

Carnegie note:  RBR’s commitment continues to be strong because we know these difficult times will pass. R&R is not the only media report to feel the pain in this internet driven world. Many trades that are still in the print business and were weekly have dramatically cut their production schedules by as much as 30%. On the TV side TVWeek stopped printing this week and has gone internet based business model. And yesterday, 6/3/09 Nielsen made another round of cuts at The Hollywood Reporter which reports state was the fourth round of layoffs this year. So, what do you think will happen next. Don’t forget Reed’s Variety, they too have seen a number of firings.

But in the internet world all of the trade medium that services our niche base of readers face the same problem – ‘Lack of ad dollar support because all in the business feel the information should be Free.’

What many fail to remember is reports like RBR is your voice to reach thousands in the radio business getting the news, information, and ideas to broadcasters. That is why they opt-in to read reports like RBR.  The days of a paid circulation are gone and now all of us are depending on advertising/marketing dollars to stay in business.

When a long standing report like R&R dies a piece of the radio medium dies with each of us.

In short the future of the niche trades or business reports are in the hands of each and every person in radio today. Especially the radio firms that are attempting to do business with the radio operator.

When trades die eventually the companies looking to market their services will face the same as R&R because your voice or distribution center to market your services will be gone. R&R closing is a wake up call on the future of radio.

Reality – the radio medium will not see New companies starting up reports to replace R&R because they see no value or ROI in the radio business. They see Nielsen and the $18.5 Million price tag and that money is gone. To be in Radio you first have to have the Passion for Radio. RBR for 26 years has the passion and here to serve and help all in radio today. Yep, RBR too needs the radio industry support as RBR is independently owned. To my colleagues at R&R we shall miss you.