Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Please Stand Against The Performance Tax

When I turned eight my parents gave me an AM / FM Radio. There hadn’t been much music in our house before, except for Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights. Well that isn’t totally true, I can remember being about five or so and having a worn out 45 stack turntable and two singles: The Lion Sleeps Tonight by the Tokens, and Andy’s Williams’ Moon River. The needle was missing so you had to put your ear close to the turntable and listen. It was worth the effort.

Several of my friends had their own record players, their parents had “Hi-Fi’s”, and I had the car radio or my dad singing, King of the Road. I love music and the gift of the radio was a turning point in my life. I listened to music every moment I could. A devotee to KHJ I grew up listening to Charlie Tuna, Robert W. Morgan, and the Real Don Steele. I knew the words to every song, a fact driven home to me in 1970 when the Beatles broke up. Every pop station on the dial played 24 hour Beatles marathons or worse “Non-stop Beatles Weekends.” I hated the Beatles. Really, fifty-eight charting songs in the US and I probably liked three of them.

Suddenly it was all Beatles all the time. ARGH! What’s a Folkie / daytripper to do? It’s not like I could turn it off, I’m a radio addict. And then the worst of it hit me, I friggin’ knew every word to every song. If someone tells you that learning by listening in your sleep doesn’t work, send them my way. That three songs Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, and Golden Slumbers realistically swelled to ten songs with the inclusion of In My Life, Here There and Everywhere, Norwegian Wood, Yesterday, Something, Rocky Raccoon, and Lady Madonna. I think it could get worse, I mean I am a child of the sixties, and if my politics and yard are any clue, I’m a Flower Child of the sixities.

Suddenly the Beatles were a begrudged inclusion into my repertoire of appreciated music. But the whole point is if it’d not been for radio I’d have not fallen in love with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; Cat Stevens; the Moody Blues; Climax Blues Band; the Doors, Marvin Gaye; the Supremes, Sonny and Cher; the Temptations; the Miracles; Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, and Mary; the Rolling Stones; the Beach Boys; The Animals and all the other groups whose albums and 45s are stored in my guest bedroom closet. I was allowed to use half of my allowance and babysitting money on the buys of my choice. My choice was the music I heard on the radio. I bought concert tickets to the groups that I loved from radio.

When I was young I tried to figure out how they got all the bands in the radio, then I grew up. Now I work in the radio industry and have a better insight into what it takes to air your favorites and the new up and coming acts over the free airwaves. When Isay “free” I mean you listen to commercials that pay for us to be on the air with a product your want to hear on your radio. True a lot of people today buy Satellite Radio, but rumors abound that even satellite is going to begin selling commercial load. Time will tell.

Now, under pressure from the recording industry, bills are in both the House - H.R. 848 and in the Senate - S 379. Both bills have passed through committee and are potentially headed for the floor.

The Free Radio Alliance cites a series of facts on their website - that everyday 173 million Americans reply on free radio daily for music, news, and information updates. They state a bevy of figures that radio provides to the economy, to public service, to everyday life. We buy the music we play (well for the most part, country music gives us the music free.) As a small radio station on the Oregon Coast (actually two stations – four airwaves) we pay large monthly fees to ASCAP, BMI and / or SESAC to air the music you hear over the airwaves. Twice a year we report what we play so they can pay out royalties from our fees to the composers and lyricists who make that music possible. Do you know why all stations don’t stream on the internet? The cost is too prohibitive. Soon small broadcasters will be forced to pay double or more the royalty rates paid today, those increases will create a chain reaction that will see the end of small and hometown broadcasters.

If any part of my story and / or arguments touch a place inside of you. If you listened to the events and coverage 9/11 all day long at work on the radio, if you tune into the local high school football, basketball, and baseball games, your favorite college games, heard the OJ Simpson verdict, if you tuned into X-minus One, Burns and Allen, or the Cinnomon Bear, if you can look in your spare bedroom and see a hundred CDs, LPs, 45s, cassettes, or even 8-tracks bought because you heard a song on the radio please lend your support to No Performance Tax dot Org by signing your name.

Thank you,