The last few years have been tough for veteran radio people. Like many industries, radio has periods of expansion and contraction and lately, the Internet and changing customer listening/spending patterns have made life difficult for an industry that’s been around for more than a hundred years.
It happens to all of us in the business at one time or another. What matters, though, is how you bounce back.
Rudy Blair worked at 680 News in Toronto forever, but was caught up in one of those periodic downsizings. He was forced to reinvent himself as a broadcast, using his entrepreneur smarts and off-the-shelf technology. Here’s what he’s done.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Napster served up the sucker punch that completely leveled the music industry as we knew it and, after taking far too long resisting the inevitable, we have been desperately trying to catch up with the pace of growth characteristic of the Digital Age— first with file sharing, then social media, followed by the standardization of streaming, countered by a healthy yet puzzling resurgence in vinyl sales, ad infinitum… Every aspect of the business is still operating in a New Wild West, grasping at unclaimed land and capturing flags from enemy territory faster than they can figure out what to build on it.
That said, I get really excited when I meet visionaries in my music community. And the only thing that can possibly excite me more is when one visionary teams up with another visionary to bring one extraordinary idea to life.
We’ve seen a lot of brand new developments facilitating the way we consume and interact with music i.e. Spotify, artists communicating directly with fans on social, or even the phenomenon of YouTube celebrities etc. It’s all fantastic, but I find one of the most fascinating kinds of development is in taking something old and making it new again — things like including digital downloads in vinyl records, promoting local bands through classic cover sets, and integrating the old familiar curation and access of broadcast radio with the on-demand, ad-allergic Age of The Smartphone.
Though we have to admit the latter has yet to be perfected, despite the ongoing and insanely expensive attempts by broadcasters to stay relevant and interesting to audiences while maintaining value to advertisers.
And that’s what this article is about: how a veteran broadcaster, Toronto’s own Rudy Blair, teamed up with artist-friendly streaming service, Mediazoic, and the ultra savvy brand Casino Rama Resort to create “Vinyl Avenue with Rudy Blair”, a new kind of radio show that knocks relevance, content, and value clear out of the park.
Before I go into how this show works and why it’s so awesome, here’s what Rudy has to say about the project and what it means to him: