What a huge year for the medium that has survived attacks from TV, video, iPods, Satellite and Internet.
Here's my rough draft on a year end wrap up:
The big stories, not in order yet:
1)Clear Channel seeks to go private and divests stations as its stock goes down.
2)The FCC opens up to small broadcasters and looks like it might start examining radio airwaves as they are: temporary licensees of the public airwaves.
3)KGO-AM, San Francisco's most popular station gets hit hard: Pete Wilson dies in July; Ronn Owens collapses and suffers amnesia in September; Bernie Ward indicted for possessing child porn in December. Ratings wise, even those things don't touch it.
4)KPIG program director Laura Ellen Hopper, who made Americana music a national format, dies in spring, saddening musicians and fans worldwide.
5)Using hate talk techniques that are a throwback to the racist radio of the 1930s, talk demagogue Michael Savage yells his way to No. 3 most popular host, behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. He sues the Arab organization CAIR for putting his Anti-Muslim rants on its website and using them to raise money. His own nonprofit status is revoked by the IRS and the State of California, after he fails to file tax forms for three years.
6)The People Meter, the electronic device that will measure what people are actually listening to on radio is introduced in Houston, Philadelphia and New York. Rock stations gain popularity; soft music, Spanish and urban broadcasters lose. In New York they protest that not enough minorities were given the monitors and the company goes back to written diaries for a while, until it can get a bigger sample size. This will be the biggest story of 2008.
7) Don Imus calls the Rutgers University woman's basketball team "nappy-headed hos," bringing a new racial epithet to the mainstream. He is fired by CBS and half a year later rehired by ABC. After big attention to his first shows, his ratings, which were never that good, dwindle.
8)Sirius and XM satellite radio networks seek a merger. Conventional broadcasters, who have previously tried to get as many stations as possible to create their own monopolies, protest it as a monopoly.
9) The FCC allows radio broadcasters and newspaper publishers in major markets to own TV stations, in an effort to help media struggling with competition from the Internet. Some say it's not enough. Others say too much power is concentrated in too few hands.
10) Media Matters, the Washington, D.C. based liberal watchdog, gains national notoriety, playing exerpts of shows by Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage and Bill O'Reilly and holding them accountable. Its account of Rush Limbaugh saying that troops who speak out against the war aren't "real" soldiers, draws fire in Congress and helps Limbaugh raise money in a backlash effort.
Send me your stories, so I can flesh this draft out..