Radio Age

Are young listeners abandoning broadcast radio?

Neither do most observers expect that youthful Denverites will turn off their radios once and for all -- and not all of them will. But if younger listeners aren't given a reason to listen to broadcast radio today, they're unlikely to tune back in tomorrow.

For your infomercial: TV stations are every bit as devoted as their radio brethren to keeping those revenues flowing -- and on April 26, Channel 7 found a novel, and worrisome, way to do so. That day, the signal preempted the second half of its 11 a.m. news hour to run an infomercial touting Toll Brothers, identified on its website as "America's luxury home builder."

News broadcasts are in flux at Channel 7. With Oprah, its 4 p.m. staple, moving to Channel 4 at the end of this month, the station is filling the slot with an hour-long newscast -- but it's dropping the 6 p.m. update in favor of Alex Trebek and Jeopardy. Was the April 26 preemption a way of indicating that the bell is about to Toll for the 11 a.m. show as well? Linda Bayley, Channel 7's director of programming, insists otherwise. "It was a contract signed a long time ago that we felt obligated to honor," she writes via e-mail. "It was a one-time situation that won't happen again. KMGH-TV remains committed to providing news and information to our Colorado viewers in the 11 a.m.-12 noon time period."

That's a relief -- unless the news and information is about "America's luxury home builder."

Assume the juxtaposition: Westword cartoonist Kenny Be has a unique view of the world, which helps explain the unfortunate link he found between two Associated Press stories that shared a page in the April 25 Denver Post. The one on top concerned a camp in Phoenix at which investigators said counselors "abused 18 boys by poking them in the rear with broomsticks, a flashlight and a cane." And what was the topic of the article beneath it? Black holes.

I experienced a cosmic connection of a different sort on April 26, after the announcement that the Post's proprietor, MediaNews Group, headed by Dean Singleton, had purchased four former Knight Ridder newspapers for a nifty $1 billion; three of them, including the Contra Costa Times, are based in California's Bay Area, where Singleton already owns several properties. Turns out that in a 2003 column, I identified the Times as a MediaNews paper -- a mistake for which I apologized the next week.

Now, however, I realize that this wasn't an error. It was a prediction.

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