"Bill and Rebecca Goldsmith are making a living from an idea that would probably get you laughed out of business school: running an Internet radio station commercial free. From their home in Paradise, Calif., in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, they operate Radioparadise.com, a format-busting station that spins a tasteful mix of music ranging from the Beatles to Norah Jones to the Strokes. Fewer than 5,000 listeners tune in during peak times, but fans like it so much, they sent the couple $120,000 in contributions last year, covering the cost of bandwidth, song royalties and other expenses and leaving enough to support a 'comfortable lifestyle,' says Bill Goldsmith, who quit a 30-year career in FM radio to run and DJ his homegrown version.And, well, I do hate Clear Channel and everything it stands for. I remember during the late eighties, I was living in Killeen, Texas, when the FCC backed-off (using that famous misnomer, de-regulation) on forcing 'local' stations to broadcast to their local communities. All they had to do instead, was to say their call sign, and their broadcast location once an hour, the rest of time, they could direct their programming at the major markets. No more local content requirements, including the news. All of a sudden they were allowed to move their transmitters as close as they could to the nearest large market, while still able to send a signal that covered the 'area they were supposed to be serving'. Pretty soon, every station within a hundred or two miles of Austin, Dallas, or wherever, became in effect, a large metro station, and was able to pursue add revenues based on this increased demographic reach. Station license prices soon escalated through the roof, and local family owned stations sold out to the mega corps. And, the trend has only gotten worse since then. The FCC, headed by the bumbling, sellout himself, Powell, nepotism at its worst, is just continuing a trend of selling the public airwaves for the benefit of private profit.
If you can't bear another spin of Britney Spears, you're one of the reasons that stations like Radioparadise are beginning to prosper and investors are again flocking to another alternative to the AM/FM dial: satellite radio. After years of unmet promise, online stations, along with satellite offerings like Sirius and XM Satellite Radio, are building audiences even as regular radio struggles through a decade-long slump (time spent listening is down 14% since 1994, according to the ratings firm Arbitron). Critics say industry consolidation has turned AM/FM stations into McRadio: nationally uniform, repetitive and clogged more than ever with ads and promos. But scores of high-quality alternatives are now competing for your ears (and dollars)."