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Old June 12th 05, 07:05 AM
Mike Terry
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Default Changing The Tune Of Radio

Rock Hard
5 June 2005

The following report is courtesy of Susan Whitall from

There's no hiding Alice Cooper. Even without discernible makeup, speaking in
his workaday accent, the shock rocker can't help but emanate color and
personality. That color spills over onto local airwaves as his classic rock
radio show - broadcast "from a radioactive dump somewhere in Monument
Valley" in Arizona - airs on KDKB-FM (93.3) in Phoenix, WCSX-FM in Detroit
and 59 other U.S. markets.

"It's time that radio becomes less corporate," says Cooper, who grew up in
northeast Phoenix and graduated from Cortez High school. "I try to format it
the way (legendary Detroit station) WABX was, free-form radio."

Cooper takes the air at WCSX as celebrity disc jockeys crop up across the
country, such as former SEX PISTOL Steve Jones on Indie 103 in Los Angeles,
and STEVEN VAN ZANDT, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN's guitarist and Sopranos actor who
has a syndicated show. Stations are trying to compete with satellite radio's
personality-rich programming, such as Howard Stern starting on Sirius in
2006, and even Martha Stewart inking a deal to appear on Sirius. The irony
is that when radio stations tightened formats to limited music play lists
and neutered air personalities, ratings dropped and helped spur the
explosion of satellite radio and iPod downloads. Now, to bring listeners
back, FM radio is forced to add personality and life to what listeners view
as boring, repetitive fare.

"A lot of the guys running corporate radio, they only think as far as their
black-and-white stats," Cooper says. "But according to my e-mails, 90
percent are saying thank you for not playing the same Aerosmith, thank you
for not playing the same Van Halen. They're so tired of hearing these songs
over and over."

Cooper agreed to do the show a year and a half ago only if he could choose
"at least 50 percent" of the music himself. He digs back for rarer cuts from
top groups but also throws in music that has been scarce at FM radio from
the last decade or so.

The past year has been a time of plummeting revenues and uncertainty for
mega-corporations that dominate radio. According to Bloomberg, shares of San
Antonio-based Clear Channel, which owns about 1,200 stations, fell 17
percent in the past year. New York-based Viacom, the owner of Infinity
Broadcasting, which owns 183 stations, slid 9.3 percent. Compare that with
satellite radio, which offers listeners more than a hundred channels of
diverse music. Sirius has more than 1.4 million subscribers while XM
Satellite stands at about 3.2 million subscribers.

The news with younger listeners is more dire; they are the ones who are
abandoning FM radio in droves.

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