Is there anything more frustrating for listeners than to turn on their favorite station, and hear that it is has suddenly switched formats? We do it every week, mostly with little warning or explanation to core customers that we've been courting, nurturing, and bribing for years. And one day, it's gone. The same thing commonly happens when we "disappear" a personality or team. They just vanish one day, often with no comment from management or programming. Hey, audience – get over it.
I know that's how many of you are feeling about the decision to shutter R&R last week. While Nielsen Business Media had to make a tough business decision (one of many difficult ones that have already happened this year), the bottom line is that many radio and records professionals lost the opportunity to hear some final words from the folks they've been reading for years inside the pages of R&R.
As I mentioned in our tribute blog last week, we at Jacobs Media have always had a solid relationship with R&R, and they always treated us evenly and fairly. In that spirit, we thought it apropos to provide some of their former staffers with the chance to say goodbye. The following folks took us up on the offer, and their "final columns" appear below.
Yes, change is inevitable in radio, in business, and in life. But in R&R we've lost an important industry voice, and part of our heritage. It's only fitting to thank them for their contributions and wish them well in their unexpected search for "what's next."
When I started in rock radio in Rochester and Buffalo in the late O70s, R&R was my window to the radio world. It was how I learned that some Chicago rock jock named Steve Dahl was blowing up Disco records at Comiskey Park or that a DJ at KMET in Los Angeles made ³who-yeah!² his on-air signature.
There was simply no other way to know what was happening in other radio markets: the trends, the news, the buzz, the larger than life personalities.
While working at FMQB, we received R&R via overnight service. When I opened the package each week and read the newspaper¹s unrivaled industry coverage, I would get extremely jealous. FMQB certainly had carved out a potent position in rock and top 40, but R&R covered every aspect of the business like no other publication. I decided then that R&R was where I wanted to be.
As part of the team that relaunched Airplay Monitor as Billboard Radio Monitor in 2004, we, of course, had R&R in our sights. It was as much fun as any classic radio battle, with each publication going after the same audience from different angles.
I finally fulfilled my goal of working at R&R when VNU bought it in 2006 and merged it with Monitor. It was a thrill and an honor to work with our former competitors as we combined the best elements of each publication into a new relaunched R&R magazine, and to work hand in hand with industry leaders such
as Erica Farber and Cyndee Maxwell.
While pundits debate why R&R no longer exists (it¹s a complicated combination of factors, with economics at the top of the list), I would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone in the radio and record industries who participated in our stories, columns and features, convinced their GM to renew the subscription, supported us with advertising and by attending our conferences, made our Web site part of their online habits, read our email products and made this legacy brand part of their professional lives. There was never a shortage of important news to dissect, trends to analyze, colorful characters to profile, strategies to investigate, influential artists to expose and station successes to trumpet.
It was truly a privilege to serve you.
Former Executive Editor, Radio & Records
Radio Correspondent, Billboard
One of the things I loved about R&R was that even though it was an "it," the industry treated R&R as a living thing. Everyone behind the name created and preserved a legacy. When you said "R&R," the first thing that would come to anyone's mind was an image of a person — Bob Wilson or Erica Farber or Ken Barnes or Kevin Carter (etc., etc.) or any number of passionate people that truly embodied the spirit of R&R. How did we do it? Simple. We walked in your shoes — or at least alongside you. We listened to you. We cared. We loved our business and we loved what we did.
I also loved that I was able to meet so many different radio, record and related people in this business. That would never have happened without the R&R call letters next to my name. I'm honored that many of those people are now my lifelong friends/family.
To everyone in the industry who ever took my call, answered my questions, let me interview them and basically put up with me whenever I was too persistent because I had to make a deadline — thank you from the bottom of my heart.
To my R&R family — thank you for the long hours, your commitment to doing what's right and your passion. You all rock! See you on the other side.
I had several years of top 40 and AC radio experience before crossing into the rock radio world in 1982 when Mark DiDia (now EVP/GM at Island Def Jam Music Group) and Tom McNally invited me to be a part of the Green Group's newly christened WMGM (Rock 104)/Atlantic City. I remained there through 1985 (sans a brief period when I crossed the street to program top 40 WAYV before returning to Rock 104) and during that time served as afternoon host, MD and eventually PD.
The thing I remember about the early days of Rock 104 was the efforts DiDia put into to establishing the station on a national platform, which included gaining reporting status with the bible of the radio and records industries, R&R.
And as we all know, if you didn't have R&R reporting status, no one gave you a second look, especially the record labels that you counted on for service and promotions. So the day that we attained R&R reporting status was the day that really jettisoned not only Rock 104 into the rock radio stratosphere, but also opened every door my career has seen since then because of the relationships it allowed me to foster, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
But the pinnacle of it all was in August 2006 when I was working with my good friend of over twenty years, Paul Heine, at Billboard Radio Monitor and BRM's owner at the time, VNU, bought Radio & Records and merged the two publications. I had then reached the Mt. Everest of the radio industry and was privileged to work with awesome people such as Erica Farber, Cyndee Maxwell, Kevin Carter, Keith Berman, Jeffrey Yorke, John Schoenberger, Mike Stern, R.J. Curtis, Darnella Dunham, Kevin Peterson, Carol Archer, Jackie Madrigal, Ken Tucker, Julie Gidlow, Anthony Colombo, Silvio Pietroluongo, Alexandra Cahill, and many more too numerous to mention.
Trying not to be naïve about the world we live in today, I am still processing the fact that a 36-year institution such as Radio & Records no longer exists, but I am comforted by the fact that we gave it our all every single day and were, without question, the eyes and ears of the radio and records industries. I am also cognizant of the fact that we didn't earn that without the undying loyalty of our readership and those that participated in helping us shape the stories we told. I know we made a difference and I thank each and every one of R&R's fans for the privilege of serving them.
Former senior editor (news, rock)
Radio & Records
"Caller ten at (call-letter related phone number) when the monkeys start screaming wins a four pack of passes to 'Fright Night at the Zoo,' with access to the Budweiser VIP tent. Plus we'll pick one grand prize winner who can bring ten friends to a private keg party with the penguins. It's a Boos and Booze at the Zoo weekend, from Budweiser, always worth it, and (City name here)'s rock station WXXX (or KXXX)."
That was essentially the sum total of my writing experience when Cyndee Maxwell and Erica Farber hired me to be the news/talk/sports editor at Radio & Records. That day I descended to the basement and dug through boxes of radio "treasures" to find the three ring binders where I used to save photocopies of articles from the magazine when I was getting started in the industry. They reminded me of the honored tradition I was going to be a part of.
Now, facing challenging times, Radio & Records has come to an end. I can't thank Cyndee and Erica enough for hiring me and the entire R&R staff for warmly welcoming the new guy. I also want to thank everyone in the news, talk and sports formats who were friendly, open and helpful to someone from outside their formats.
I'm not sure what's next, but in the meantime, please keep in touch. My longtime personal email, email@example.com, remains active and my cell phone number will stay the same.
What a long, strange week it's been… it feels exactly like that classic radio scenario of "unfinished business," which I last experienced in 1990, at the late, great KYNO-FM/Fresno — as each one of us got off the air, we were summarily called into the GM's office and terminated, informed that the station was changing format to Classic Rock. Back then, just as last Wednesday, the drastic move was explained strictly as a financial decision — and no, you don't get to do a "last show."
So, here we are again, 19 years later. The ubiquitous R&R brand has been silenced, and the staff didn't get a chance to do their last show. Thanks to the generosity of our longtime friends at Jacobs Media, many of us are taking advantage of this complimentary "air time" to let you know how much we collectively a) love what we do, and b) sincerely appreciate the unprecedented outpouring of love and support we have received since last week's announcement of the closure of R&R.
Speaking on behalf of myself and my longtime Brothers of Street Talk Daily, Steve Resnik and Keith Berman, I can honestly say that we have been truly honored and humbled by the hundreds of positive messages, emails, and amazing conversations we have been having. They mean more than you might imagine.
If you were perhaps expecting a traditional "goodbye message" at this moment, you won't get one here — because we aren't leaving this industry that we all love so much. We cordially invite you to stay tuned to see what kind of trouble we can stir up next…
To paraphrase the nightly sign-off of the immortal Alan Freed: "It's not goodbye; it's just goodnight."
Even now, the trend of sharing a brain with Kevin Carter holds true — he basically said everything I was thinking as well (minus the part about working in Fresno… no offense, Fresno). So my apologies if some of this sounds vaguely repetitive.
Thank you to the Jacobs Media guys for giving us the chance to sign off from R&R, allowing us the opportunity to sincerely thank all of you who called, e-mailed, IMed and sent Facebook messages over the past few days. The tidal wave of support has been overwhelming and humbling, and it reaffirmed for me the amazing tight-knit community of people who make up this industry. It really does mean the world to me. I feel like many of you have become not just close industry associates, but also friends.
It was truly an honor to have been part of the R&R family for over 7 years, and from the messages I've seen on websites and Facebook, it appears that many, many others also felt it had a special place in our industry. Honestly, I'm more upset over the fact that R&R is no more than I am over the fact that I'm on the beach right now.
This isn't goodbye — we love what we do, and we're not leaving this industry that fuels the fire that burns inside of us. Stick around after the commercial break to see what stupidity we can come up with next….
- An Open (News)Letter To Radio - December 6, 2023
- The Case For Handcrafted Radio - December 5, 2023
- Is It Time For The Music Industry To Write Radio A “Dear Genre” Letter? - December 4, 2023